A Close Call (Part Two) – Mt Philistine Bluffs

“On a Mish” #57 A Close Call (Part Two). Mt Philistine Bluffs. Upper Otira Valley. Arthurs Pass National Park. 29.5.2015. A life without risk is a very basic existence. Most modern-day activities have some element of risk, however this shouldn’t prevent you going about your life. There are plenty of dangers in the wild but with planning and care these potentially precarious parts of your adventure can be negotiated. Like getting behind the wheel of a car, you just jump in and do everything you can to make sure that car goes back in the garage at the end of the day. Of course, every now and then you might have a close call or worse, and hopefully you come away from it with a tale and not a tragedy…

Many times, I have ventured into the wild by myself with plans to scale a mountain and enjoy all that comes with a good mish. Of course, the fact that I am by myself means I have to be very careful as there is no one around to help if things go wrong. When I first started going on ‘real’ missions by myself I used to go about it with the recklessness of someone who hadn’t had any close calls. Thankfully the close calls I had back then taught me to slow down at bit, do some mountain travel courses, and start playing it safe when things looked a little sketchy.

A light track helped me get up onto the Warnocks Knob Ridge. While following this vague trail the area began to lighten and I started to get incredible views down the Bealey Valley. Above me were the Philistine Bluffs, which come with a warning when winter rolls into town, and I was about to get a firsthand experience of why.

The rock and tussock of the bluffs create a maze of gulleys and guts, and my forward progress was slowed substantially. At one point I thought I heard the unmistakable sound of a rock-fall, but then the valley went silent again. I climbed a little bit higher and then, not far off to my right, I watched chunks of snow and rock come thundering down one of the gulleys. I immediately felt very exposed to danger and, after a short think about my situation I decided that that was a close enough call for me to turn back. I was a little bit disappointed to not get very far up the mountain, but I’ll take that over an injury any day of the week!

I got back down to my camp and,while packing up, I heard the clatter of falling debris off in the distance and this made me feel a lot better about my decision to turn back. The conditions weren’t right, and I still got some good photos. Some might focus on the fact that there wasn’t a summit involved, but I like to just soak up serenity, and more importantly stay alive!

Don’t let the dangers of the wilderness world deter you from going on a good mish. The power of nature is immense, and as humans we need to bathe in nature’s glory whenever possible. After getting some outdoor education on the mountain world you should be ready to take on the hills, and be educated enough to make sure you avoid any close-calls or worse…

View of Arthurs Pass from the Mt Philistine Bluffs

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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