Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Classic Traverse

The approach

The weather, and a partner (thanks Marianne!), finally aligned yesterday for a brillaint day out on the classic traverse from Homer to Gertrude saddle, via Mt Macpherson and Traverse pass. The route is straight forward without any technical climbing (the rope stayed in my pack), although it does feature some nice scrambling on solid granite - particularly on Talbot's Ladder, the section above Homer Saddle. We opted for clumsy boots, but in good summer conditions trail runners and light crampons would likely be more fun. 

Near the top of Talbot's ladder

Looking across to Mt Moir and Moir's Mate

Looking west from the summit of Mt Macpherson

Looking north from the ridge, Tutuko and Madeline in the distance

A couple of climbers making their way towards Traverse pass

Approaching Traverse pass below Mt Talbot

Looking back at the middle section of the route from Traverse pass

The descent to Gertrude saddle




Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Full Value

Doug, Luke, Rob and myself have just returned from a trip that, despite being a fairly short mission, provided a full spectrum backcountry experience. We had a bit of everything -  wind, rain, sunshine, fresh snow, low water, high water, easy walking, hard walking, straight forward paddling and technical whitewater. This is the trip done by Roman Dial et al and Forrest McCarthy (and probably a heap of Kiwis) in recent years - starting in the Hopkins valley, up the Huxley and north branch of the Huxley, crossing the main divide at Brodrick pass into the Landsborough valley and paddling out to the Haast road. Highly recommended. Oh yeah, consider taking a spare paddle. I'll try to get an edit and some more words together soon.


Thursday, December 26, 2013


I thought I'd follow up the previous post with some photos of what the Darran mountains look like when you can actually see the tops of the peaks. This morning's forecast for dry, stable weather over northern Fiordland prompted me to grab my pack and bolt for the hills. On days like this the big granite walls, steep sided pinnacles and hanging icefields lose their sense of forboding. It seems you could simply wander at will, scrambling up peaks and traversing snowy ridges, making grand enchainments. Indeed on a day like this with a partner, rope and rack, the possibilties for challenging and interesting circuits are endless.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Moody Day In The Darrans

A small avalanche rumbled across the valley as I picked my way down the increasingly slippery slabs above Black lake. Just 500 vertical metres below, the huge granite walls capped by snow and ice, give way to the calm of the valley. I had been 'weather-blocked' - again. Which is fine. Barrier Knob will there next week, or the week after, or whenever a weather window opens long enough to 'let me in'. I'm learning to appreciate there is no such thing as bad weather, just weather. If you want to ramble amongst a range that receives an average of seven metres of rainfall per year (seriously), this kind of attitude is a prerequisite. 

The Mt Cook Lillys are in full bloom

There was a brief glimpse of blue sky 

But the clouds soon closed in

Black lake is still partly frozen and filled with dirty avalanche debris

Saturday, October 12, 2013

As It Should Be

I've been living in Te Anau for about a week or so now and I'm genuinely excited to be based on the edge of Fiordland, New Zealand's biggest, wildest chunk of wilderness. Deep fiords lined with huge granite walls, glaciated peaks, hundreds of picturesque waterfalls, huge lakes fed by fast flowing, impossibly clear rivers, unique wildlife, easily accessible trails as well as valleys and ridges which seldom see people. An outdoor bum's paradise with enough opportunities for several lifetime's worth of adventure. As psyched as I am about playing - and working - in the deep south for the next seven months, I can't help but think about the four weeks previous spent roadtripping from one end of the south island to the other. 

The thing is, those four weeks didn't include any particularly bold or adventurous missions and I can't say I ever really extended myself. We hiked some trails, we ran some trails, we rode some trails, we scrambled up a few easy peaks, we clipped bolts at a few crags, we skied a bit (still can't ski) and we floated down some rivers..all brilliant days playing in the outdoors. We also slept in often, had leisurely breakfasts and spent rainy mornings in cafes or reading in the van. Granted, being constantly surrounded by ever-changing, absurdly beautiful terrain accounts for some of my pining for life on the road. But what I'm really missing is just being outside everyday, living a simple life uncluttered by the bullshit that can sometimes rule our 'everyday' lives.