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

“On a Mish” #29 Mountain Goats & Glissading (Part Two). Mt Bealey(1836m). Arthurs Pass National Park. 1.10.2014. Many times, I have watched the goats that live high in our mountains negotiate steep terrain with ease and wished I had even just a fraction of their abilities. Their confidence in their balance and precise aim of each hoof is a sight to see, and to see it you’re going to have to do a lot of uphill hiking. Once up there I usually can go downhill at a similar pace if there is good snow to glissade down…

To be high up on an exposed snow-covered mountain ridge and have your crampons and ice axe working in perfect unison is about as good as it gets for me. The fresh alpine air floods your lungs with purity, and your eyes are treated to the wonder of a world high above any resemblance of civilization.

It wasn’t long after sunrise that I got above the treeline. I was slightly annoying that I had miss the colour of dawn due to still being in the forest, so I knew I had to make it up to myself by making the rest of the mission as epic as possible. Luckily Arthurs Pass National Park was here to help, and the morning chorus was as spectacular as the scenery. It was like a volume battle between the many different birds of the bush and as the light got progressively brighter the sound slowly turned down. It was a good start to say the least.

My crampons went on my ice axe was unclipped just beyond the top of the forest. Like every time with my crampons, I slowly and meticulously attached them to my boots, making sure I tidied any lose straps away neatly. I rose from my rock seat and within the first couple of crunches I was in my happy place.

I got higher up the mountain and came across a lone Chamois (European Mountain Goat), chilling / warming itself 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. His ears twitched and it was like he knew of humans / hunters, and he was out of there. With jealous eyes I watched the animal effortlessly run down extremely steep terrain into the forest below. In another life I’d choose to be either a mountain goat or maybe even a kea. At least as a Kea I’d avoid the chance of becoming an addition to someone’s BBQ!

The rocky ridge was soon no longer rocky, and in front of me was a white undulating snow ridge in perfect crampon conditions. My happy place had just upped its game. High up on Mt Bealey(1836m) I felt like the luckiest person on the planet. With a whole lotta blue sky above me and a ridge in perfect condition in front of me I was walking on the very same sunshine that was slowly softening the snow…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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