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Price Basin Hut

Price Basin Hut

(Price Basin Hut: Photo Brent Smith 2015)

Maintenance Status

Price Basin Hut is a remote and very low-use hut that was kept as fully maintain by DOC due to its possible usefulness for Himalayan Tahr control purposes. Ian Horner from Ahaura and Brian Barton are interested taking over its maintenance. DOC are at the early stages of working on the scope of works and may do an agreement in Ian's name.

Location

Whitcombe catchment. Map BW18. Grid Ref: E1434362/ N5222640. Altitude 1060m. Price Basin Hut is located in open tussock in the upper TR basin of the Price River, one of the larger tributaries of the Whitcombe River. The Hut is 50m from the River between two small side creeks. Price basin backs onto the Lange Range and Pahlow Ridge and is a spectacular and rugged setting. Below the Hut the river drops over a large waterfall and down through an impassable gorge to the Whitcombe valley. All the routes to the Hut are over the tops and are reasonably demanding, as well as being a good three-day's walk from any roadend. Foot visits are irregular, one or two every couple of years, with gaps of 2-3 years not uncommon. There are occasional fly-in tahr hunting trips. Rock wren can be sighted in a few spots above the Hut, and around Mt. Wylde Brown.

Price Basin Hut location

Access

The most direct access to Prices Basin is up the TR of the Whitcombe River. The valley tracks here are well maintained and were last cut in February 2015. There are several large unbridged side-creeks on the way up that would hinder travel after heavy rain. Allow two days to reach Wilkinson Hut from the roadend, and from here head back downriver on the TL to Pahlow Creek. This is the second big side creek around an hour downriver from the Hut, and is unnamed on the topo map. An old NZFS track down this side was partially recut by some Permolat people in 2015. The first side stream down river from Wilkinson Hut is crossed around 50m up from its confluence with the Whitcombe and is cairned on both sides. The track then heads across an area with lighter scrub and back to the River. Keep to the River where possible from here, watching for cairns and cut sections around bluffs. On occasions, mostly in winter when the River levels are very low, it is possible to ford the Whitcombe from the main valley track opposite, or near Pahlow Creek. This would save having to go all the way up to Wilkinson Hut and back down the TL. Mostly however, this is not possible, or safe.

Head up Pahlow Creek taking the TL branch at each of two forks. Exit near the head of the Creek where it starts to get bluffy and sidle NE along a sloping tussock bench under the faces of Mt. Van Redan towards Johanson Peak. A scree slope at around E1435862/ N5222427 provides access up onto Phalow Ridge, which is followed up to around the 1500m contour. A cairn here marks the point where the sidle into Prices basin begins. Make sure there is a good line of sight down to the Hut. The faces leading down into the basin are not steep, but are rough and rocky underfoot, with scattered large boulders. Allow 6-8 hours from Wilkinson Hut to Price Basin Hut.

Parties intending to fly out of Prices should take in a bit of extra food. Due to frequent poor weather and the basin often being misted-in, pick-ups can be delayed several days.

Type

Price Basin Hut is a pretty much unmodified, NZFS S81 four-bunk design, built in 1962. It is unlined. Water is from the creek next to it. There is no toilet.

Condition

DOC repainted and resealed Price Basin Hut during the Summer of 2003/4. The Hut was in good condition at last report.

Routes

For the more experienced types there is an alpine crossing the Lange Range from Prices Basin over to Ivory Lake Hut. Access is up the side-spur that connects Mt. Wylde Brown with point 2056m. This is mostly easy travel apart from a rock buttress near the top that can be sidled around on its South side. This isn't normally problematic, but caution would be needed if there were hard snow or ice. From point 2056m drop directly down to the Southern end of Ivory Lake. The Hut is visible most of the way down in clear conditions. In high summer and autumn the crossing is usually snow-free, apart from a small patch on point 2056m. It would be adviseable to carry ice axes and crampons at other times. Allow 5-6 hours from Hut to Hut in good conditions.

A high traverse is possible from Price Basin Hut to the Cropp Basin although it is not a particularly easy route. Access from Mt. Wylde Brown down into the TL branch of Price River involves a lengthy downhill scrub-bash. It may be easier to drop down the side-creek from the low point west of Wylde Brown. It looks OK from the Cropp Brow, but is as yet untried. Access from the lip of the TL basin of the Price River up onto The Rotunda is up some steep faces composed of rotten, unstable rock, and extreme care is required on this bit. Once on the Cropp Brow it's very easy going and there are several routes down into the Cropp basin. Alternately, continue down Steadman Brow to a maintained track that leads down a side-spur that to the Price Flat swingbridge in the Whitcombe valley. The track connects with Cropp Brow at a flat area just NE of Cropp Knob and it takes around two hours from the scrubline down to the River. The track was recut by DOC in 2013.

Access from Price Basin up onto the NE ridge of Mt. Thorndike is relatively easy. There are great views from the Thorndike tops over the Wilkinson Ice Lake to Mt. Evans and the Bracken Snowfield.

Repairs needed

None at last report.

Provisions on Site

A grubber, a shovels, a spare shovel handle, a wash basin, two billies, 2 brooms, a hearth brush, 2x stainless steel plates, 9x billies and or pots, 2x frying pans, 1x can opener, 2x fish slices, 1x ladle, 4x Perspex louvre panes, 1x potato masher, 1x glass, 1 pair large (cut off) gumboots, 1 pair large (Skellerup type) lace up hunting boots, and a large pole marked “aerial” for mountain radio.