First Time Above Paradise – Mt Alfred(1375m)

“A Mish a Day” #185 Mt Alfred(1375m). Glenorchy/Routeburn Road. 12.12.2009. From the first time I saw Mt Alfred(1375m) from the viewing area at Bennetts Bluff, I knew I wanted to stand on top of the small chunk of a mountain located in the middle of Paradise (literally).

This is the account of my first mission up the mountain via the west face, and since this trip I have climbed the peak from the eastern side. Also, sadly, access to the peak is now cut off to the public. I had gone an entire season guiding on the Routeburn and Greenstone Tracks, and only driven around the base of the mountain, the whole time wanting to top out and stand on the summit, so along with a camping trip up the Glacier Burn, a plan to finally climb the peak was hatched. I spent the night at the spectacularly scenic Sylvan Campsite, and in between my battles with the local Te Namu/Sandflies, I could stare up at Mt Alfred(1375m), and picture myself on the summit looking back down at my campsite on the edge of the mighty Route Burn as it enters the many braids of Te Awa Whakatipu/Dart River.

An early-ish start the next day revealed a moody sky, and the realization that in my rush to get out of the guide flat I hadn’t checked any weather reports for the area (rookie). Committed to the mish, I drove the short drive from the Sylvan Campsite to the roadside car park at the western base of Mt Alfred(1375m), and I was off into the beech forest that covers the lower reaches of the small mountain. As pretty as the beech forest is, the continual zigzags up through the dark forest do start looking the same until I got above the treeline, and from here views started to build in breath-taking epicness. A small break in the bluffs is the only way to the summit, and after a short scramble I was on top of Mt Alfred, and finally looking back at Bennetts Bluff, and the northern stretch of Lake Wakatipu. So far the weather was holding, but as I headed north west along the summit ridge to the trig tower on the top, I looked down to the Sylvan Campsite where I could see that the mountains around the Route Burn where now being thrashed with rain. ‘Been there. Done that’ was about all I could think before beginning my retreat off the mountain, and down to the shelter of the beech forest. By the time I got to the treeline the drizzle had become rain, and looking up at the top of Mt Alfred(1375m) I realized I had got the final view from the top before the storm swallowed the mountain. Now the dense cover of the beech forest seemed less boring and more helpful, keeping the worst of the rain off me, as I made my way back to the roadside car park satisfied and happy!

Lake Wakatipu from Mt Alfred(1375m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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