So Close, And Yet So Far (Part One) – Ben Lomond(1748m)

“On a Mish” #181 So Close, And Yet So Far (Part One). Ben Lomond(1748m). Queenstown District. 25.11.2011. Some of our best hiking mountains sit so very close to towns. Having the option to climb a mountain directly from where you are staying is extremely helpful however it doesn’t make it any less of a mountain. Ben Lomond(1748m) is a mountain only a stone’s throw away from Queenstown and on a day with favourable weather the views are incredible. The hike is worth it, just don’t be one of the small group of people who decide that the rules of reality don’t apply to. If something goes wrong or if you get the timings wrong, the peak can seem so close and yet so far away from safety…

I had lived in Queenstown for a couple of years before I went for a wander up the big peak behind New Zealand’s adventure capital. Many times I had fumbled my way through conversations with clients on the Routeburn Track , usually saying “I will climb it on my days off’. For a very long time I was basically lying, as I would go further than just the mountain behind town on my missions. That all changed when a group of guides got together early in the season and decided to go on a mish up Ben Lomond.

We had discussed our plans the night before and early-ish the next morning we had bags packed with snacks and jackets, and then we were off.

From the guide flat it was a ten minute walk to the start of the track under the famous Queenstown Gondola. Our world went dark again as we hiked under the cover of a light sapping pine forest. With very few views through the forest canopy we concentrated on our feet and used the time to warm up. It didn’t take long before we got to the start of the actual Ben Lomond Track and not very far above this was the end of the trees.

If you are someone like me who uses epic views as fuel to climb higher, Ben Lomond is the mountain for you. From the point where you get above the pine forest and gondola to the summit the views are increasingly excellent. We got to the Moonlight / Ben Lomond Track junction and conveniently there is a seat. The seat looks north west and there is nothing but mountain epicness in that direction.

We took advantage of the seat and as we parked up peered out at perfection one of the team told us the story of a dude who got completely lost after he set off on his Ben Lomond mish late in the afternoon. As darkness set in he lost his way and eventually needed to be rescued off a mountain that is so close to Queenstown and yet would have seemed so far away from civilization. Knowing we had many hours of daylight left was very reassuring. We knew that unless there was a disaster, we had given ourselves more than enough time to get up and down before we lost the daylight.

After our quick break we pushed on and in front of us was the summit section of the adventure…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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