Day Thirty-One – Arthur’s Pass, Storms and disappointment

Today was a bit of a travel day as there was some distance between Hanmer Springs and our destination of Springfield which was to be our base for some days bouldering at Castle Hill.
The driving was uneventful and apart from stopping to do some food shopping and grab some lunch, there was nothing else of note to talk about, except for the wind. It was howling and made driving….interesting. The motorhome is basically acting like a giant sail, and in crosswinds is horrendous to drive, so when we eventually reached Springfield I was relieved. The relief was short-lived. We stopped in the Youth Hostel in Springfield to enquire about hiring some bouldering pads, and whilst the host was more than happy to rent us some pads, he did warn us about the storm that was coming in, of which the wind was a precursor. The weather forecast was predicting temperatures below freezing overnight and for much of the day, which adding in the wind-chill factor from the now storm force winds, meant climbing was not going to happen. There was also a risk of snow! We only had a 3 or 4 day window and the forecast shut this out.
We had some difficult decisions to make.
We sat in the van looking out at the snow tipped mountains, which we could see snow being blown off the top by the winds, and the van rocking on it’s axles and discussed our options.
With heavy hearts we both agreed that climbing in these conditions would not be possible, and given the forecast hanging around Springfield (which was literally a smudge on the map – there was nothing to do there), was also not something we wanted to do. We had an afternoon ahead of us and with the coming storm, we knew we wanted to clear Arthur’s Pass by nightfall or risk the roads being closed, so we set off again.
As we ascended towards Castle Hill and the boulders, I couldn’t resist pulling over and getting out for some photos. It’s painful, we are so close but we knew we’d made the right decision. 10 minutes outside and I couldn’t feel my fingers. We saw some other climbers huddled in their down jackets inside their van.
The weather continued to deteriorate as we headed through Arthur’s Pass (which is home to only 40 people) and I battled with the van against the wind, so when we pulled into Greymouth in the dark some hours later, I was exhausted and just gutted at missing out on bouldering and I could tell Laura was also feeling the same.
We got our heads down and tried to sleep whilst the van was being battered by the wind and rain, hoping that tomorrow would be a brighter day.

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