When a howling gale blew Robert Farnell’s
pack off the top of a mountain 23 years ago, he assumed he would
never see it again.

Mr Farnell was climbing Mt Bounds in Marlborough with friends
Colin Griffiths and Murray Chapman on a cold, windy June day in

He took his pack off at the summit, staked it into the snow with
his ice axe and was preparing to take a photo of the next peak

“I was ready to get the pinnacle in the viewfinder and a
humungous gust came along. When I looked around, the pack was
gone,” he said.

“There was a steep chute that seemed to go forever and I didn’t
even think of going after it. Luckily the ice axe was not too far

He made his way down the mountain and over the years, the lost
pack became a distant memory and was soon forgotten altogether.

Last year, Grovetown man Doug Hislop, president of the
Marlborough branch of NZ Deerstalkers Association, was crossing the
line of mountains on a goat culling exercise when he spied the top
of a pack sticking out.

“I carefully removed it from the gravel with the thought that
someone’s shoulder blades might still be in it, luckily not.

He searched through the pack for some identification and found
“R. Farnell, Blenheim” printed on a pair of leggings.

He cut the name off the leggings and wrapped it around an old
emergency kit he also found inside and brought the package out with

“I didn’t know what he (Mr Hislop) was talking about when he
rang up and then suddenly I remembered,” Mr Farnell said.

Mr Hislop retrieved the rest of the pack and its contents on a
trip to the area this year and it now sits as a memento in Mr
Farnell’s shed.

The contents of the pack were almost all intact, except for a
flask that had fallen out.

His sandwiches were still recognisable and a pair of “brand
new”, woollen socks could still be worn today.

“He is a really nice guy and I appreciated that he had taken the
time to bring out the pack.”

The lost pack was covered by insurance and Mr Farnell has given
the replacement pack to Mr Hislop as he no longer needs it.

The trip up Mt Bounds (2000m) was one of many the trio completed
in the eighties.

Caption: Robert Farnell has been reunited with his pack after
losing it in a gale on the top of a mountain 23 years ago. Photo:
Dan Hutchinson.