So when you find a hut called top Olderog on remote huts you know it’s a must do. And when you see it previously had a visit every three to five years then you know you have to do it immediately. Shaun Zoë and I left Christchurch at 5 on the Wednesday. Zoë left us at the Arahura river and went off to do her own solo trip. As it turned out, there was a locked gate, leaving us 7km to walk down the road. We hooned it and were soon making good time up the track. Shaun was unimpressed by the tops which were scrubby up to 1400m but the weather was fine, so who could complain. We kept going after lunch and soon made it to top Olderog hut, beating the remote huts lower estimate by half an hour. There was no water or snow at the hut so we had to improvise with our ice axes so we could enjoy hot and snow- cone Raro with the remaining daylight. The hut itself was “pretty nice” for an old bivvy and even had a copy of the 2015 trog and some familiar names in the hut book. After dinner Shaun’s 2 hours of sleep caught up on him, and I learned from the trog that 2015 tramping club was apparently way more rad that the current one.
My phone alarm didn’t go off in the morning, so we skipped breakfast and charged off down to the Olderog stream. Everything was half frozen, slippery as hell and overall pretty sketch. At one point while going up the stream in quick succession Shaun managed to drop his Croc, then his pack, then his water bottle in the river. Fortunately, he caught the first two, the bottle got caught in an eddy and I fished it out with my ice axe. Then, while scrub bashing around a cascade, Shaun fell off the bank and was caught dangling upside down from a bush. We followed the stream up to Mt Olson and further along the range. The creek we dropped down started out fine albeit a little chossy, but then we reached the part of the route that remote huts described as requiring “agility and dexterity.” It turns out that this was a series of massive drops with no holds. I went first dangling from my ice axe. And sliding off onto the rock below, but I was fine after a breather. Shaun tried to chuck me his pack, but it ended up tumbling past me, flinging the drink bottle out and going over the 10m drop below me. I used my hands as the missing footholds to get Shaun down. I think that the only thing he said in this whole ordeal was “fuck” repeatedly. Somehow his phone, drink bottle and most importantly glass bottle of brandy survived the fall
We made slow progress down the creek and had to walk in the water to avoid the icy rocks. When we finally got to Griffin’s creek hut we were amazed by the setup. There was a toasted sandwich maker, eggbeater, even a cocktail shaker. We will definitely be making a return trip with different supplies. We got down to the bath to find a thick layer of ice on top. This meant it took a while to heat up and we enjoyed some whiskey and brandy while we waited. We got in, Shaun ate his dinner and I cooked my dinner while we waited for it to get nice and hot. Turns out we didn’t bring enough wood down, so we made a sad retreat to the hut. It happened to have a 2014 edition of trog, which provided entertainment until we went to sleep.
In the morning we woke up to find that everything in the hut was frozen including our boots, socks, and water. I walked to the river with boots as stiff as anything and laces that wouldn’t budge and made my feet even colder in the icy water. It was a decent walk down the river so there was plenty of time to thaw my boots. I told my cousin on the coast about it and he told me I should have pissed on them. I might save that one for an emergency. All in all, I thought it was a bloody good trip. I hope Shaun wasn’t too traumatised. If I keep scarring people at this rate, I’ll be tramping by myself by the end of the year.
Author: Max Truell
Dates: 1st – 3rd July 2020
Featuring Shaun Souness, Max Truell, Zoë Marshall-Means (briefly lol)