Another Day in a Snowy Paradise (Part Two) – Ocean Peak(1848m) from Lake MacKenzie

“On a Mish” #117 Another Day in a Snowy Paradise (Part Two). Ocean Peak(1848m) from Lake MacKenzie. Fiordland National Park. 12.5.2012. The level that people go to to see the place that I called my workplace took me by surprise at first. I had gone from cabinet making to making memories with adventurous folk from all over the globe. My mind was blown on a daily basis and all I had to do was make sure the people with me were getting their fix as well. Guiding is bloody awesome and it becomes a ‘job’ that you can do even when you aren’t working…

After all the chores at the lodge were completed we set off on our winter wander up Ocean Peak. We were crunching footsteps into fresh snow on an untouched track. Knowing how many people walk the track daily in summer and then being the only ones makes for a refreshing chance to something that is very refreshing anyway!

With each step we gained height, and with more elevation there was more snow. By the time we got to Ocean Peak Corner the fresh, fluffy powder was putting our gaiters to use. At Ocean Peak Corner we started following the south west ridge, but upward progress was slowed by the fact that we wanted to stop and take pictures of everything. The going was easy at first however we were walking towards a potential trap which we could see yet. We scrambled up to a point around 1750m, where we traversed across a steep snow face to get to the last part of the ridge to the summit. The traverse was the first real reminder that when winter mountaineering you need winter mountaineering equipment. Normally here I would chuck my crampons on, but as I only had one pair I decided I didn’t want to leave my friend on the ridge. The point we had got to was super epic anyway so we snapped a few pictures and then began our snowy descent.

We carefully followed our tracks in the snow back down the mountain towards Lake MacKenzie, and unlike on the way up we wanted to take our time and soak in the outstanding atmosphere. We had to stop every now and then to take in the views of a stunning snow-covered Darran Mountains, which popped in and out of the clouds as if they wanted to remind us of the giants that were lurking in the shadows. My favourite mountain range at my favourite time of the year. To me this is paradise and there aren’t too many places I’d rather be.

We dropped off the south west ridge back onto the Routeburn Track and this was when we realised we needed to hustle to get back to the lodge in order to get back to work. After the epic morning we had had it was funny to think that the whole thing had happened in a place I call my ‘workplace’. Paradise is pretty good, even better when covered in snow, and it seems pretty crazy sometimes when someone is paying you to be there. Plenty of pretty places out there that need guides…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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