Borland’s Skyscraper (Part Three) – Mt Burns(1645m)

“On a Mish” #7 Borland’s Skyscraper (Part Three). Mt Burns(1645m). Fiordland National Park. 25.3.2017. Some people probably wonder why you would place yourself on a sketchy ridge with massive death drops either side. It can be questionable at times, but then you get to a summit, and more importantly return with not only a story to tell but also the sweet feeling of success. There’s no feeling like it, but to get it you’re going you have to climb what at time feels like skyscraper built by Mother Nature…

So far, we had woken, eaten and then tussock gripped our way up onto the narrow summit ridge of Mount Burns. The ridge has a mellow but probably fatal drop to the south, and to the north is what seems like a near endless drop down into the Borland Valley. If you slipped and fell, you would get sick of screaming before you hit the ground!

In one spot on the rocky ridge the only way forward was to surmount yet another rock tower, but with this one we couldn’t clamber over the top due to it having a bluff on the other side. To continue we very carefully traversed a tiny ledge, leaning backwards (towards the huge drop on the north face) to avoid rock at face level. The adrenaline was pumping, due to the fact you can feel the emptiness behind you and quick glimpses reveal a drop you swear gets bigger with each glance. It’s best to just focus on gripping the rock and getting around what was the crux of the climb.

After the little ledge we knew it was one last up, down, up, and we would be at the top. With one last excellent scramble we were standing next to the pylon and rock cairn on the summit, both stoked to have got to the high point of another pristine Fiordland pinnacle.

Our escape plan was to drop down to the high tarn basin on the south side of Mt Burns(1648m), then cross over to the lower tarn basin to join the ‘Mount Burns Tarns Track’.

Knee-wrecking steep rocks took us off the exposed ridges down to the tranquility of the upper mountains many tarns. We had to stop at the biggest tarn in the upper basin to primarily let our legs recover from the steep drop, but also to soak in how beautiful the place was.

(The area is so incredible that I would return to the tarns a few years later for a camp and play in the snow. I just had to pitch my tent amongst the lovely little lakes that sit in the sky.)

From the tarns we traversed up and over Peak 1476m, which gave us awesome views of Green Lake and the mountains in South Fiordland. This peak is one I’d highly recommend as, for the effort required the reward is exceptional. Most peaks in Fiordland are a real challenge, but this one is a straightforward wander from the Mount Burns Tarns Track.

After Peak 1476m we hiked down to find the tarns track which then led us down to the Borland Road / Saddle.

Our wants and needs had been satisfied on Mt Burns and now we could add another Fiordland Mountain to our list of achievements together. We came, we camped, we climbed Mt Burns. The skyscraper that hangs over the upper reaches of the Borland Road had been surmounted and now we needed a rest and then it would be time to start planning for the next wild mountain mission…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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