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An hour later, when we made a move to retrace our steps, we discovered that we’d been sitting directly above the second, much longer mine.It was just by chance that someone glanced back down the bank and saw an opening in the undergrowth Jim led the way in.However, soon it was time for lunch – just over from Point 1086.From here we could see the track leading down to Happy Valley Stream. A pleasant walk up the valley found us at a spot mentioned in Ben Winnubst’s book a guide for climbers.Arriving at Opouri Saddle in mist and drizzle was no deterrent to a determined assault on the ridge, where the rocks were quite slippery after the rain.Nevertheless, as we climbed 500 metres, the vegetation was rewarding, with Astelias, ferns of all kinds, orchids and other epiphytes demonstrating that the New Zealand forest can be magnificent, even on a rainy day.Our 2004 summer campsite had been a stony, exposed area another hour up the valley.This site was grass, protected from down-draughts by a rock buttress.
As always, it was a hot climb through this sheltered, sunny gully for 30 minutes. Prior to lunch, we found the short mine cut into the hill, just above the track.Once in the basin, dominated by Peak 2430, we identified a good crossing point over a spur from this peak.From the spur, the long slope to the top came into view.On Saturday at am, we were ascending the valley, past the 2004 campsite, then onto the snow.Not long after entering the basin, the day dawned, promising a wonderful morning ahead.
It was not in good condition underfoot, and washed away in many steep parts.