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Searching for accounts of attempts on the Schormann-Kaitoke (SK) traverse of the Tararuas

Very briefly, I’d like to help propagate a request from my local club (Tongue & Meats [1]), who are looking for the stories of anyone who’s attempted an SK in the last few years [2].

The SK is named for Schormanns-Kaitoke, which represents a traverse between the northern and southern ends of the Tararuas. The Shormanns entrance is no longer accessible, so the normal northern point is now considered to be Putara Road.

In 1997, the Wellington Tramping and Mountaineering Club first published a collection of accounts of SK attempts [3]. The latest of these collections is getting out of date, though, and it’s time for a new, sixth edition.

Several major variants for the SK exist, but the traditional route is via the Main Range. Going back to the early 1960s there’s been an ongoing challenge within tramping clubs and related communities to complete SK traverses within a weekend. The true believers set themselves a task of completing a full day of work on Friday, as per usual, before they’re allowed to leave to attempt it. 🙂

Whilst the weekend target is what most people aim for, the very fittest manage it non-stop in times on the order of 24 hours, give or take. These people usually don’t sleep. Lately it’s also become a challenge taken up by the mountain running fraternity, adding new dimensions and approaches.

If you’ve attempted this feat in the past five to seven years, and would like to contribute the story of your adventure to the sixth edition of the compilation (or would just like to obtain a copy once it’s available), please check the guidelines regarding what’s needed [2], then follow the instructions to contact Megan, the editor.

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5 Comments To "Searching for accounts of attempts on the Schormann-Kaitoke (SK) traverse of the Tararuas"

#1 Comment By Shaun On 26 February, 2014 @ 9:25 pm

Hi Mike,

A good idea. I’m interested to know if it was in fact John Tristram and Peter Daniel who did the first weekend S-K, back in 1963. I contacted John, and he said yes, as far as he knew, but others have said there might have been an earlier one. Do you know?

Cheers Shaun

#2 Comment By Mike McGavin On 27 February, 2014 @ 8:56 am

Hello Shaun. I’m afraid I’m not sure and I don’t have any previous editions of the book in front of me to check what it records. I’ll ask Megan (the current editor). If they’re not already included then I’m sure she’d be keen to get an account.

#3 Comment By Megan On 3 March, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

Hi Shaun – That’s an interesting question. The book isn’t a chronological history per se, but a compilation of letters, trip reports and newsletter articles. Sometimes they are missing details or refer to other trips. In addition, it depends on the ‘criteria’ (eg – 2 days or 3 days as well as the route). Not to mention, trips are only recorded if there was a trip report or someone later wrote up a summary. It’s hard to know what we are missing!

My best guess, is that over 4-6 Oct 1963 Dave Capper, Bruce Jeffries and possibly other companions were the first recorded to successfully complete in a weekend (more specifically in only 2 days). Dave and Bruce turned off at Arete via Tarn Ridge, Girdlestone, McGregor, Holdsworth, etc. There was an earlier success by Alan Stevens and Dick Cowan in January 1963 but it took 3 days.

It seems that Peter Daniel and John Tristram were the first recorded to complete it in a weekend via the Main Range 1-3 November 1963. I don’t appear to have their story, though other stories refer to their success. It would be great to include their story – if you could forward my email (newsletter @ wtmc dot org dot nz) to John that would be much appreciated!


#4 Comment By Shaun On 6 March, 2014 @ 9:11 am

Hi Megan,

John Tristram’s contact details are … [10]
Would be well worth you contacting him about his and Peter Daniel’s 1963 trip. Do you have a publication date for the new S-K book? Chris Maclean are nearly finished our book on tramping history, and I’d love to include it in the bibliography if you know.



#5 Comment By Megan On 11 March, 2014 @ 10:41 pm

Hi Shaun – No set date yet for publishing, we’re just getting the process going collecting stories and photos. I would anticipate it’s a few months out. I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s out. However, you can use the reference for the original edition of the book – along with all it’s updates:
Title: Accounts of Week-end, Two-day and 24-hour Schormann-Kaitoke Traverses of the Tararuas, North Island, New Zealand, Via the Main Range, Tarn Ridge, the Rivers and in Reverse!
Authors: Lindsay Cuthbertson, Peter Jagger, Wellington Tramping and Mountaineering Club
Publisher: Wellington Tramping & Mountaineering Club, First Published 1997, Reprinted (with additions) 1998, 2000, 2005, 2011, 2013
ISBN 0473050544

I’m also hoping to meet up with Lindsay who compiled the original and all previous editions, so I may be able to add a bit more history.