I had done this climb twice before, in my late teens and early twenties. All I remembered was a lot of rock and scree, rewarded with great views from the top including Aoraki/Mt Cook in the distance. What made me want to do it at age 59? SOTA of course, and the lure of my first 8-point summit activation.
For this one a clear day with little wind was essential, and this day the forecast looked good. I set off from the top of Porters Pass just after 9am and started the long ascent.
I was on my own as Julia had to work, but near the top of Foggy Peak I caught up with another walker and we kept each other company to the summit. There was only very occasional cellphone access along the way, but good access to the Christchurch 705 repeater so I was able to keep Geoff ZL3QR aware of my progress, and he kindly let Julia know I was doing OK.
Views along the way and from the top were as good as I remembered. The track was mostly easy, just a few places on the final part where the steep drop off both sides and thin scree made things a bit uncomfortable. At the top, the trig held the pole well enough and the antenna was stretched out along the ridge.
Thanks to some alerting from Geoff and the locals who turned out in force on 80m, I soon had this activation in the bag. Propagation further afield wasn’t good, but a number of the usual suspects were able to work me, including Wynne ZL2ATH on his boat in Lake Taupo, and Kyle ZL2KGF on a Waikato summit.
After trying without success for VK contacts for quite a while, I packed up and began the long walk back down. Quite a slog.
So I can still make it, and I will have to do it at least once more, as one of my tramping ambitions is to stand in “The Gap”. Might be a VHF handheld activation only next time though.
ZL3/CB-241 Castle Hill Peak
Height: 1998m ASL
Directions: From the summit of Porters Pass follow any of the many tracks up towards Foggy Peak, leading to the main track and reaching Foggy Peak in about 2 hours. A less used but still distinct track leads down and then up along the long ridge to Castle Hill Peak.
Time to summit: 4 hours (1190m ascent, 130m descent) from SH73 Porters Pass. At least 2.5 hours to get back down to Porters Pass
Summit marker: Trig beacon
Land access permission: Not required, Korowai/Torlesse Tussocklands Park
Repeater access: Good into Christchurch repeaters
Cellphone access: No Vodafone/2degrees 3G from the summit, Spark OK
Map: NZ Topo Map
More information: sota.org.uk