Altitude: 375m to 1939m. Gain: 2126m. Loss: 1625m . Gradient: 18 deg (Steep)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7) - Streams (2/6)
A good climbable spur lies on the south side of Wind Pudding Creek in the Hunter. 500m south of the Wind Pudding outflow, a small waterfall descends below two long shingle slips which run most of the way to the summit of the spur.
From the shingle fan below the waterfall, push into kanuka bush on the north side of the fan, picking up excellent deer trails climbing the right-hand-side of the bush, 20m from the creek. These deer trails lead through the bush to bracken scrub above, where they split and dilute. However, pick the best trails you can, keeping 20m or so from the creek and climb until the shingle slip becomes visible above.
Climb the shingle slip. At about the 600m contour it enters a steep gut with bluffs above. Sidle this section - I took the south side but the north looked better in hindisght. Above the bluffs, return to the slip and climb until it gullies out again. Here, I climbed out of the north side and followed the spur all the way to the summit though low scrub then tussock and finally rock-scree and hard-pack. A false summit is reached at 1500m, and a final climb follows to the real summit at 1600m where a spur joins from the south-west. Drop south into the grassy basin below.
This route climber 100m hiugher than required, and was a steep scramble on hard-pack higher up. A better route was to exit the scree chute on the _south_ side at the second channeled-out section, and follow a good looking grassy terrace south to another section of scree visible (and on maps) 500m south by an island of beech. Climb this scree face directly into the grassy basin described above.
The creek shown on the map was dry, but good springs were present (after months of drought) at the base of the spur dropping west from pt2054.
From the springs, climb stable rock-scree into the basin south of pt2054. Eventually you reach an old corrie or lake-hollow beyond which the steep head of the gully rises to the pass. The head is crowned by seemingly sheer rocks. However, a brown-coloured scree chute at the top of the face on the far right (just north of pt1980) tucks behind rocks and climbs gently to the ridgeline.
From the saddle, DO NOT DROP down the far side - scree descends steeply to bluffs. Sidle north, either on rock just below the ridgeline,or on scree above bluffs, 10m below. Sidle north 100m-or-so, past one rocky spur and into the scree basin west of pt2054. Follow tough semi-stable rock scree (or snow if you're lucky) down. You need to keep pushing north as the south side of the face bluffs out several times on the way down. From the bottom a tiring 2km on boulder scree leads to the bushedge, where the river emerges from the rocks. Follow the river down, choosing sides as seems best until you emerge ont he broad grassy flats of the upper Dingle Burn. Top Dingle Burn Hut is 1.5km downriver against the bushedge on terraces on the eastern side.