Goats and Great Views – Emily Pass(1607m)

“A Mish a Day” #96 Emily Pass(1607m). Fiordland National Park. 17.4.2012. The view of the Routeburn Valley – which also takes in the bulky mass of mounts Somnus(2293m) and Momus(2148m), and even as far as the western side of Pikirakatahi/Mt Earnslaw(2830m) from the top of Emily Pass(1607m) – is definitely in my top five vistas of all time. One side of the pass is the barren rocky world that exists above the treeline. Yellows, greys and the white of the odd patch of snow give the area the feeling that humans don’t belong here. Once over the pass the yellows and greys change to greens and blues, with lush forests and clear rivers…

I was lucky to have a head start on most, as I was working as a Lodge Manager at Mackenzie Lodge with the team of builders renovating the lodge. During the start of this job late in the hiking season, whenever the guided clients showed up the builders would down tools and I would go on a mission. I would also have some free time in the mornings after the hikers had left the lodge.

One morning I left Mackenzie super early-ish and quickly made my way past the Lake MacKenzie DoC Hut, past the mini golf campsite, and then on to the north east end of the lake. From this point the track disappears into the riverbed that feeds into Lake MacKenzie, and it’s rock hopping for a while. Above this, smaller and easier rocks and areas of tussock are reached in the head of the basin closer to the pass and this makes for faster travel. The view back to Lake MacKenzie and beyond, the mighty Darran Mountains, is an excellent sight early in the morning and an ideal motivation boost to keep me going further up towards the Pass. I decided to head for the false pass on the east side (climbers’ right), near the north ridge of Emily Peak(1815m), and then traverse over Peak 1645m to Emily Pass(1607m). As I got up to the top of the false pass I heard rocks falling and realized I wasn’t alone. I was having my progress overseen by a lone Chamois with an incredible place to call home. With a huge amount of jealousy, I watched him / her scramble over nearly vertical ground with ease, and then drop down into the basin below the pass. I got to the top of the small peak between the two passes and took in the stunning view. Then panic kicked in after checking my watch. I suddenly realized that time was getting away on me and I needed to get back to Lake MacKenzie Lodge to start work ASAP. Now, from first hand experience I wouldn’t recommend rushing down rocky Fiordland alpine areas, as a couple of tumbles during the journey back lead to needing a plaster or three when you get back to the lodge! For those prepared, a hike over Emily Pass(1607m) is a true adventure that will not be forgotten, and a change from the busy hustle and bustle of the Routeburn Track.

The reward waiting at the top of Emily Pass(1607m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter