Chamois and Glissading (Part One) – Mt Bealey(1836m)

“A Mish a Day” #29 Mt Bealey(1836m) – Part One. Arthurs Pass National Park. 1.10.2014. When you do something often, you can sometimes overlook what some people would find dangerous. I have climbed many mountains on my own, and I am quite comfortable traveling high in the hills by myself. Setting my own pace and stopping whenever I want is something I like, and also when traveling alone you only have to take care of yourself. Hours spent in solitude gives you time to clear your mind and only focus on the job at hand. Any issues in the real world can be temporarily pushed aside as the only thing that needs my attention is the mountain I am about to climb…

The winter of 2014 had me going to Arthurs Pass Village time and time again, and each time had its own challenges. The alpine highway that travels through the Bealey Valley and over Arthurs Pass is cut into the south east corner of the mass of Mt Bealey(1836m), and the peak is visited by those keen for adventure above the treeline. On this mish I had the luxury of a small cottage in the village to spend the night before the climb. After an excellent meal at the cosy crib I dozed off to sleep by the warmth of the classic pot-belly stove.

After an early-ish start I left the warm cottage and stepped out into the fresh chill of a winter’s crisp morning. I walked in the dark through the quiet village to the turn-off for the Mt Bealey Track, which helps with navigating the beech forest on the lower reaches of the mountain. As I followed the track through the forest, the morning light appeared between the gaps in the foliage, and this meant I could turn my head torch off as I crunched my way along the shaded frosty track. It wasn’t long after sunrise that I got above the treeline, and the crampons went on as the alpine section of the mission began. I got higher up the mountain and came across a lone Chamois, chilling in the morning sun on a snow slope. I sneaked my way along the ridge and managed to get quite close to the alpine animal before he noticed me, and then effortlessly ran down extremely steep terrain. It is always fascinating watching these creatures negotiate mountain terrain with ease, it makes me jealous every time! In another life I’d choose to be either a mountain goat or a kea. A life in the mountains as an animal would be epic, as long as I didn’t become steaks for someone’s BBQ! I watch the Chamois scramble down below the treeline out of sight before continuing on towards the east ridge of Mt Bealey(1836m). Ahead of me was an undulating snow arete in perfect crampon conditions. Does life for a mountain addict get any better than this?!

The Ups and Downs of the Final Ridge to the Summit

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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