By Valentin Volhard, 27 July 2019
After arriving at Mangatepopo Hut late on Friday night we had a relaxed morning and headed out at around 9. The weather was fantastic, with no clouds in sight and no wind to speak of. After trotting along the uncomfortably wide track of the so called “Great Walk” we headed into the wild towards Mt. Tongariro.
Once we reached the snowfields it was time to put on the crampons and pull out the iceaxes in order to traverse the snow covered slope. The climb itself was uneventful but beautiful, with clouds coming from the north just after we had passed that height.
After a quick lunch and a lesson in self-arresting near the summit we headed out towards the North Crater. Requests to journey down the crater in order to put the self-arresting skills to test were skillfully ignored (definitely for the better). Instead we turned eastwards towards the emerald lake. By that time the clouds had reached the plateau, giving the whole place a look reminiscent of a polar region.
After another steep descent we came to the view point of the Emerald lake and looked into a sea of clouds before following the Great Walk back towards the South Crater. The clouds had cleared once we reached it and we witnessed a fantastic view of the mountains while the sun was going down. The descent from the plateau was uneventful, we reached our home base in the dark. Luckily Michaels pessimistic concern regarding the quantity of the food proved to be wrong and we gorged ourselves on the Macaroni Kieran had expertly cooked, washing it down with a mug of mulled wine.
We had an even more relaxing morning than on Saturday while deciding what we were going to do. In the end we headed south in order to find a way up to an interesting looking ridge. After an hour or so of balancing over a vulcanic boulder field we managed to scramble our way up the mountain. We were rewarded with a narrow ridge full of snow and rocks, and thoroughly enjoyed the act of traversing it with Mt. Doom looming behind us. After a windy lunch we headed further along the mountain, looking for a way to descend without breaking our necks. In the end James found a small path most likely used by climbers, which severely decreased the effort needed to get through the bush covering the slopes of the ridge, arriving back at the hut in the early afternoon.
All in all everything went pretty much as planned, with no nasty surprises whatsoever. This probably prevents it from being an actual tramp from what I have heard. I still had a lot of type 1 fun.