Chamois and Glissading – Mt Bealey(1836m)

“A Mish a Day” #29 Mt Bealey(1836m). Arthurs Pass National Park. 1.10.2014. Always time for another solo climb, and this time it is of the Arthurs Pass giant Mt Bealey(1836m). The road into the Bealey Valley near Arthurs Pass Valley is cut into the south east corner of the mass of Mt Bealey(1836m), and the peak is often visited by those keen for adventure above the treeline.

On this trip I had the luxury of a small cottage in the village to spend the night before the climb, and after an excellent meal I eventually dozed off to sleep by the warmth of the pot-belly stove. After an early-ish start I left the warm cottage and stepped out into the fresh chill of a winter’s night/early morning. I walked in the dark through the quiet village to the turn-off for the Mt Bealey Track, which helps navigate the forest on the lower reaches of the mountain. As I followed the track through the beech forest, the morning light appeared through the gaps in the foliage, and this meant I could turn my head torch off as I crunched my way along the frosty track. It wasn’t long after the sunrise that I got above the forest, and the crampons went on, signalling the alpine section of the mission. As I got higher up the mountain I came across a lone Chamois, chilling in the morning sun on a snow slope, and I managed to get quite close to it before he noticed me, and then effortlessly ran down extremely steep terrain. It is always fascinating watching these animals negotiate mountain terrain with ease, it makes me jealous every time! The east ridge took me directly to the summit, and I got to the top after a couple of hours of plugging through deep snow, as no one had been up the ridge since the last snowfall. Mt Bealey’s position makes for incredible views, and the weather was on my side that day, so I soaked in the epic view from the top of the Arthurs Pass National Park giant.

To make the descent interesting I glissaded down from the summit into the upper basin, and covered meters in seconds that had taken hours to walk up. I had taken my crampons off so I could side down the mountainside, and had to put them back on to climb back up to the ridge after sliding too far. This was a little bit gutting after all the effort of the morning, and the legs were getting tired as the day went on. I followed the last of the ridge back down, and finally got out of the snow. After removing my crampons for the last time, I followed the well marked track back through the forest to the roadside, and then made my way back to the cottage in Arthurs Pass Village. I would have loved to stay longer and climb another peak from the comfort of the cottage but as I had work the next day I chucked all my wet gear in the car and drove back to Christchurch, satisfied with the mission and knowing I would return ASAP!

The Crow River and Waimakariri River from Mt Bealey(1836m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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