Velo - mountaineering

Velo -  mountaineering, cycle scramble or whatever you may call it is nothing new apparently. Shipton and Tilman rode back from East Africa after climbing Mount Kenya - all the way to England and way before that the Workmans who at the turn of the 20th Century were the prime explorers of the Western Himalayas and Karakoram's Cycle toured the whole of India before taking up the Ice axe. There are stories of Christchurch mountaineers in the 1930's facing a howling Westerly headwind to the Southern Alps here in New Zealand only to face a bitter Easterly all the way back having climbed nothing more than on and off their bikes!! Sir Edmund Hillary on his second attempt on Tapuae -o -Uenuku in the 1940's set out with a mate on regular bicycles for a long 100kms or so crawl from Air force base to the Mountain base only to be foiled by snow conditions higher up. There are still a number of locals using the "Velo" to  access the Mountains here in New Zealand and one can say a few bikers who ride to a high pass to make a mountain scramble.

Certainly for myself Velo - Mountaneering represents a fascinating economy of motion, route finding and purity of effort. Baggage is kept to an absolute minimum as everything is done by human power alone so in a way, every high trek or mountain peak becomes a small  expedition in itself regarding planning, logistics and most of all fulfillment. With warmth meaning far lighter loads away from all the winter gear  and long daylight hours summer is the prime time to match these two passions. 

 The last month has seen little happening on the training front with school holidays full on but I did  manage a couple of great Velo - Mountaineering missions. One was with Mike Naylor up the Rainbow Road to Maling Pass 1306m from where we scrambled up Mount Princess at 2126m before heading out - a perfect one day Velo Mountaineering mission. The other a solo mission starting with a short day's ride and walk into the lower reaches of Cullifords hill in the Owen Massif. An overnight creek side Bivvy before was the treat before the real gut-wrenching began the next day. Firstly a stiff climb and bash through Spaniards (spear grass) and tussock often raring way over one's head (got cuts in my ears even) to climb up over Cullifords hill 1765m then a gently "out" via Granity pass hut before riding the 80 kms home!!

Maling Pass 1306m looking back towards Mt Una 2300 and into the St James 

Mount Princess 2126m

Mike Naylor at the Princess Bath

view of the Travers range from the Top

Contemplating the long hike/ride back from the summit

Lake Tennyson from the summit

looking across the Princess Bath 

Content Mike with mount Una behind

riding out the Rainbow

Heading up the Motueka valley towards the Owen Massif with a few extra summer kilos on the waist - quite a few would disappear in the next 24 hours.

first View of Cullifords hill while riding up the Wangapeka


Glade below Cullifords hill on South side.

Cullifords hill 

the limestone mass of Mount Owen

spectacular limestone wall which I can't identify - one of many.

Only 80 kms to go , took over 4 hours after hitting the "wall"