Gillespie Pass Circuit

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Gillespie Pass Circuit

Postby wildwanderer » Thu 06 Sep, 2018 1:02 pm

Hoping someone who has done this walk or is familiar with it can answer some questions. Im planning to do the walk in late November.

- How easy is to camp along the trail? Are there good spots near to the Young/Makarora River junction? I’l be coming via bus and the bus schedule is not optimal for arriving at Young hut on the first night.

- Do I need to treat the water along the route?

- Whats temps should I expect in late Nov? (in the mtns)

- Is there any mobile phone reception or communication options along the route? Im a bit concerned about rain/snow melt and needing to stay longer than planned due to a river being too dangerous to cross etc. So ideally id like to be able to send a msg to a family member to reschedule hotel/international flights/jetboat should it be needed.

- How accurate are the track notes for walk time to destination. (track note times listed below)

So far, my plan is

Day 1 Arrive by bus at noon. cross Makarora R (by foot or jetboat depending on R). Camp along trail.
Day 2. Walk to Young Hut. (10km-20km depending on how far I get Day 1)
Day 3. Young to Siberia hut (12km 6-8 hour according to track notes)
Day 4. Day trip to Crucible lake (14km 6-8 hour return)
Day 5. Siberia hut to Makarora R (22km, 6- 8 hour) camp at junction Young/Makarora R
Day 6. Cross Makarora R (either by foot or jetboat) and connect with lunchtime bus.
Day 6 . Delayed option. Get early morning jetboat from Kerin Forks to Makarora. 2-3 hours walking, 2.5 hour jet boat.

- Should I reduce the trip by one day and walk down from Siberia hut to Kerin Forks (2-3 hours) in the early AM on Day 5? Get a 10 am early morning jet boat (if available). But this would mean leaving Siberia hut at aprox 7am. Would it still be dark at that time? If so any dangers in walking down in dark?

- Or is it better to have the extra day up my sleeve in case Im delayed by bad weather?
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Re: Gillespie Pass Circuit

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Thu 06 Sep, 2018 1:43 pm

wildwanderer wrote:Hoping someone who has done this walk or is familiar with it can answer some questions. Im planning to do the walk in late November.

Did this last year at a similar time of year, with a few extra days exploring the upper Wilkin as well.
wildwanderer wrote:- How easy is to camp along the trail? Are there good spots near to the Young/Makarora River junction? I’l be coming via bus and the bus schedule is not optimal for arriving at Young hut on the first night.

Good camping at lots of places, including just upstream from the bridge across the Young north branch (has a toilet, otherwise toilets are only at huts), upper Young area in the 'bowl' near the bottom of Gillespie Pass (plenty of spots), Gillespie Stream about 1/2 of the way between GP and Siberia Valley (obvious grassy area near where you first hit the stream), the camp at the bottom of GP track on the Siberia side (in the treeline near the Gillespie/Siberia confluence, just where the track flattens out from a lot of downhill), lots of places in Siberia valley and around the jet boat pick up area across from KF hut. Also a couple of hours upstream from KF on the Wilkin at wonderland flat is a fantastic camping site if you're inclined to do a bit of a side trip. Can't remember specifically a site at the Young/Makarora confluence but if you head up the Young track there are some good flats about an hour in between the confluence and the north branch camp (and there's probably a site or two somewhere beforehand, just can't remember any).
wildwanderer wrote:- Do I need to treat the water along the route?

As will most NZ alpine areas, probably not, but can't hurt. I generally throw a puritab in. There are tanks at the huts.
wildwanderer wrote:- Whats temps should I expect in late Nov? (in the mtns)

Can get anything so need to keep an eye on the forecast (not helpful I know, but Mt. Aspiring area in Nov can be anything from blizzard to scorching sunshine).
wildwanderer wrote:- Is there any mobile phone reception or communication options along the route? Im a bit concerned about rain/snow melt and needing to stay longer than planned due to a river being too dangerous to cross etc. So ideally id like to be able to send a msg to a family member to reschedule hotel/international flights/jetboat should it be needed.

I keep my phone off while out walking, so can't answer that, but if you need a jetboat they run to a (generally daily) schedule. Can check with them in Makarora beforehand (or give them a call) to get a handle of confirmed timings.
wildwanderer wrote:- How accurate are the track notes for walk time to destination. (track note times listed below)

(Stating the obvious) walk times vary from person to person, but as track notes go, the DoC ones are as accurate as any.
wildwanderer wrote:So far, my plan is

Day 1 Arrive by bus at noon. cross Makarora R (by foot or jetboat depending on R). Camp along trail.
Day 2. Walk to Young Hut. (10km-20km depending on how far I get Day 1)
Day 3. Young to Siberia hut (12km 6-8 hour according to track notes)
Day 4. Day trip to Crucible lake (14km 6-8 hour return)
Day 5. Siberia hut to Makarora R (22km, 6- 8 hour) camp at junction Young/Makarora R
Day 6. Cross Makarora R (either by foot or jetboat) and connect with lunchtime bus.
Day 6 . Delayed option. Get early morning jetboat from Kerin Forks to Makarora. 2-3 hours walking, 2.5 hour jet boat.

Your itinerary looks sound, although Crucible from Siberia is only a half day trip, so you can push on to Kerin Forks in the afternoon if you want; even more do-able if you camp at near the Gillespie/Siberia junction amongst the trees where the Gillespie Pass track emerges into Siberia Valley at the bottom of the hill (mentioned above), since this removes an hour of backtracking from Siberia hut to get to Crucible. Also, KF down the Wilkin to Makarora is a bit of a boring trudge and most people take the jet from KF (daily departures... around lunchtime but would need to confirm the actual time).
wildwanderer wrote:- Should I reduce the trip by one day and walk down from Siberia hut to Kerin Forks (2-3 hours) in the early AM on Day 5? Get a 10 am early morning jet boat (if available). But this would mean leaving Siberia hut at aprox 7am. Would it still be dark at that time? If so any dangers in walking down in dark?

Plenty of daylight at 7 am. In any case, because they do tourist day trips (fly in to Siberia, walk to KF, jetboat out) the section of track between Siberia and KF is pretty much a footpath (think 'great walk' standard), bit of a juxtaposition to the rest of the tracks in the area. Can easily do it in 2 hours and the standard of track would be suitable by head torch in the dark either way. Again, you should check with the jet operator to make sure there will be a departure on that day/time.
wildwanderer wrote:- Or is it better to have the extra day up my sleeve in case Im delayed by bad weather?

If you have confirmed that the jet is running on your last day, you have that contingency anyway really, noting my above comment that you can easily role crucible and Siberia to KF into a single day if needed.

Couple of other points... Quite a few unbridged river crossings to watch out for after heavy rain, particularly if crossing the Wilkin IVO KF area (if you do need to cross to KF hut, head downstream to the jet boat pick up and go across via the gravel island in the middle using the obvious shallow points... note though that this info is 12 months old and the river can completely change with heavy floods). Also depending on snow conditions need to be aware of the avalanche risk around GP.

Shame you don't have an extra couple of days to head upstream from KF on the Wilkin and check out the top forks/north Wilkin lakes area... spectacular country (lots more river crossing too :D )

Hope this helps.
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Re: Gillespie Pass Circuit

Postby wildwanderer » Thu 06 Sep, 2018 8:53 pm

Thanks for all this excellent information. Really appreciate it! :D

I wish I did have more time as yes the top forks/north wilkin lakes look amazing. Next trip!
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Re: Gillespie Pass Circuit

Postby wayno » Fri 07 Sep, 2018 3:36 am

weather can do absolutely anything from one day to the next, that includes snow, if often snows in november and even december. not usually in massive amounts, but its accompanied by very strong winds, the windchill and getting wet is the issue.
people look at the temps in NZ and think its not that bad, but its one of the windiest places in the world.

the vast majority of the route has no cell phone coverage at all.
the only place you MIGHT get it is near the road. mountains block cell phone signals extremely effectively and they don't put cell phone towers around the mountains for trampers...
from the land of the long white clouds...

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Re: Gillespie Pass Circuit

Postby wildwanderer » Wed 31 Oct, 2018 3:20 pm

Whats the wind like in the young and siberia valleys? (river level) I'l be camping for a couple of nights (river level).

If I can expect 60km/h+ winds I'l bring a sturdier (but heavier) tent setup.
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Re: Gillespie Pass Circuit

Postby wayno » Wed 31 Oct, 2018 3:30 pm

wildwanderer wrote:Whats the wind like in the young and siberia valleys? (river level) I'l be camping for a couple of nights (river level).

If I can expect 60km/h+ winds I'l bring a sturdier (but heavier) tent setup.


easily exceeded, the valleys are wind tunnels
from the land of the long white clouds...

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