On Monday the 28th of September one mother duck (Kiera), one father duck (Leo) and 7 ducklings (Aaron, Abbie, Alana, Ariel, Dale, Holley, Toby) waddled down to National Park. We stopped off in Te Kuiti for some nice curry and watched a concerning number of cats wandering about the main road. The first night we stayed at the backpackers in National Park and did some Jandal and Croc climbing on the wall they had there.
Day 1: We all woke up early to get ready to head up the mountain. It was a very sunny day and we were all keen to get started. Mother duck helped us all into our “poons” (cool person word for crampon) and we waddled safely to Ruapehu Hut (at 2040m on the Delta Ridge). We dropped off our stuff and headed out for lessons from our elder duck leaders. We learnt some skills such as walking with crampons and using an ice axe to fall arrest. There was also a discovery that Crocs are in fact 'crampon compatible’. We had a lovely dinner of nachos and Dale drank most of a bag of goon. There was another hut user so apart from aerial sock/crock wrestling, table traverse, and “eat the box” we kept our noise and activities to a minimum.
Day 2: We had a mint weather forecast and went on a journey up to the dome to enjoy our lunch in front of the crater lake. Dale wasn’t feeling 100% in the morning but came right. After lunch, we spent some more time learning some more snow duck essential skills, including avalanche snowpack assessment, how to rescue a duck buried in an avalanche with a transceiver, and how to dig big holes as fast as possible. We then safely headed down - most of the ducklings were a little tired at that point and were keen to see the hut again. We enjoyed another lovely dinner of rice risotto and spent some time studying the avalanche and weather conditions for the next day. At this point it was becoming pretty clear that there were a few cardinal rules you must follow: number one: don’t fall and number two: don’t get caught in an avalanche. Easy.
Day 3: On the final day, Mother and Father duck were kind enough to set up a couple of top ropes and we got to try out ice climbing! It was heaps of fun.
A big thanks to Kiera and Leo for looking after all the ducklings and teaching us some valuable skills on the mountain. We all took turns pissing them off and they did very well to keep their patience with us. I think many of the ducklings will keep practising what we have learnt and there will be more snow adventures to come!