Ben Lomond(1748m) – Climbing the Iconic Queenstown Peak

“A Mish a Day” #181 Ben Lomond(1748m). Queenstown District. 25.11.2011. It is hard to beat the stunning view from the top of Ben Lomond(1748m) on a day with clear skies, and little wind. With that being said, it is also a mountain that demands respect, as it stands nearly 1500 metres higher than the start of the track in Queenstown. I have heard the underestimation of time and difficulty story time and time again from mates, and I know of a few people who have stumbled back into Queenstown in the dark, completely stuffed after a much longer day than first expected. On the other hand, I know from personal experiences that when done right, a day on Ben Lomond(1748m) is one to remember. It took me a couple of years living in Queenstown before I joined the mostly German tourists on the mountain, and the delay only made the first experience more satisfying…

From the guide flat on Hamilton Road to the summit and back is a big day, so of course an early-ish start was needed… I took the shaded Tiki Track, which got me away from the early morning drone of Queenstown, and into the pine forest below the gondola. The first view of Ben Lomond(1748m) from gaps in the trees reveals how long the day is going to be, as the peak seems very far away when looking at it from the other side of the One Mile Creek Valley.

My early-ish start had also meant I had beaten most of the crowds heading up the hill, and as I climbed higher I came across a tent in the middle of the track. This wouldn’t be the first time I would come across a tent in the middle of the track, as on a winter climb of the neighboring Bowen Peak(1631m) I came across the very same situation. At 1316 metres, Ben Lomond Saddle is a location in itself, and can be a good plan B for some people, as from the saddle the track begins to climb Ben Lomond’s craggy summit pyramid. The views north from the saddle are very epic, with the first glimpses of the ice covered beautiful queen of the mountains, Tititea/Mt Aspiring(3033m). The higher you climb the more you see, and as I followed the track south west I started to see more and more of Pikirakatahi/Mt Earnslaw’s massive twin peaks, and then finally topped out nearly a kilometer higher than the guide flat where I had started a few hours earlier. From the summit I could see the dots of fellow hikers making their way up towards the summit, and they (me) couldn’t have picked a better day. Not wanting to be caught out by darkness, I didn’t stay on the summit long, and began my descent back towards Queenstown. On the way down I passed an eclectic mixed of hikers, some very well equipped with the latest gear, power walking with purpose, poles swinging wildly with every step. Then there were some slightly less-experienced “hikers”, who had come equipped with a plastic shopping bag, jeans and a t-shirt, and most important, a bulletproof attitude. I was done by the time I got to the base building of the gondola, but still had to walk the kilometer or so back to the guide flat, and by the time I got back it was time for a brew, and a very long sit down.

Queenstown and the Remarkables from the summit of Ben Lomond(1748m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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