I have a problem. Actually, I have a few.
I have been sitting in New Plymouth (not the most rocking town in the world) since Tuesday afternoon, waiting to climb conquer the local piece of badassery – Mount Taranaki, 2600m high and the most lethal mountain in New Zealand.
My problem is that New Zealand is in the middle of a cold snap. The temperature dropped by about 8 degrees over night on Monday, covering the entire of Egmont National Park in so much snow that the shuttle buses into it haven’t even been running for the last few days.
With no other realistic way of getting there in time to climb the mountain, I have been stuck in town waiting for the damn thing to thaw out a bit. So far, it has done so just enough for me to book myself onto a shuttle bus for tomorrow morning!
My second problem, however, is that I need some gear. One does not ascend a mountain like Taranaki – or indeed any decent mountain – without at least some crampons and an ice axe. Without them (indeed, even with them), you’ll simply slide back down again, quite probably to your death.
Being entirely out of money, I cannot afford to buy this gear. Instead, I am attempting to hire it from the local adventuring shop. The problem is, however, that they won’t give it to me.
Having neither a climbing partner nor any alpine experience, my chances of making it up Mount Taranaki unscathed are slim. It already kills more people than any other part of the New Zealand landscape even with it isn’t covered ice and a couple of layers of snow, which are almost certain to avalanche upon contact.
As such, they simply won’t give me any gear. They don’t want to be responsible for my death, essentially. I suppose this is fair.
Instead, they suggest I take the bus into the park and walk around at the base of the mountain – or see how far I can get up without gear, then just enjoy the scenic walking.
This, however, will not stand. I came here to climb the fucking mountain and if I can’t climb the fucking mountain, I certainly don’t want to spend a day walking around at the bottom of it, looking up at the mountain I can’t climb!
I could, potentially, wait around for another week – doing nothing whatsoever in this bloody town – and wait until the mountain is sufficiently thawed out to be potentially climbable.
This is also unacceptable, however. I am here to travel and see New Zealand – not twiddle my thumbs in New Plymouth’s Eco Lodge.
Time, the thing I fear the most, has caught up with me. Poverty and lack of skill, my other old enemies, have also caught up. Together, this mock my attempts to perform mighty deeds.
So I am leaving. To do what, nobody knows – me least of all.
Rule Two: No Looking Back.
To make myself feel better about failing to get up a real mountain, here are some pictures from when Sarah and I hiked up Mount Luxmore along the Keplar track.
All these are her photos because my camera was broken at the time. She did a pretty hot damn good job too!