Borland Ridge – A Delightful Ridge Scramble

“A Mish a Day” #164 Borland Ridge. Fiordland National Park. 4.12.2018. Fiordland is a funny old place, for above the incredibly dense jungle-like forest are open tussock-covered ridges, which in places allow easy (sometimes exposed) travel with views that never disappoint. The Borland Road is just now starting to get more well known, and road is an excellent way of bypassing the tough Fiordland bush-bashing, and stepping out of the car straight onto the open tussock ridges above the tree-line. I had scrambled north from Borland Saddle(990m) before, but this time I had brought my old mission buddy Dylan, and we had our eyes set on a scramble up the rocky peaks four kilometers north of the saddle.

An early-ish start from Te Anau had us driving up above the saddle in the morning sun to the base of the powerlines that stand tall on the top of the saddle. The first part of the ridge journey took us through tall fields of golden tussock covered in morning dew, which soaked our trousers like it had been raining, proving there is no escape from the wet in Fiordland! We followed the ridge up and over peak 1299m, and then had to drop down to a small saddle covered in tarns which would make a great campsite, before climbing back up in the direction of our objective – rocky peaks.

We hiked over the rounded mound of peak 1306m, and from here the ridge got interesting as we began to climb over a particularly rocky section of ridge. We called it a day just before peak 1393m, as the rock on the ridge became very loose, and we didn’t have enough time to down climb and sidle around to gain the peak. We enjoyed a quick feed on our small rocky summit, before turning back, where I choose to sidle under the gnarly rock, but Dylan decided to spice things up with a tricky exposed traverse of the peak. We regrouped at the base of the rock section, and then retraced our steps back over peak 1306m. The last challenge of the mission was to drop 300m down to the small tarn saddle, then climb back up 300m on the other side. The grunt up the small peak definitely let our calves know we were alive, and we were both pleased as we topped out and took some time to take in the epic view of the Grebe Valley over a 1000m below. One last enjoyable scramble took us back into the long tussock, and then back to the powerlines and the car. The mission had a real alpine feeling to it, and thanks to the Borland Road, in just a couple of hours we had epic views and a challenging scramble, before heading back to Te Anau for a Foot-long ‘Three Pepper Chicken’ sandwich at Subway.

Upper Borland Valley

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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