Going Where There is Nobody – Foggy Peak(1741m)

“On a Mish” #93 Gales and Gravity. Foggy Peak(1741m). Torlesse/Kowai Forest Conservation Area. 13.8.2013. A big reason I enjoy going into the mountains is to be in a place without people, no offence whanau! There is something very special (and very ‘New Zealand’) about being in wide open spaces and seeing nothing but wilderness. Whether it be a still day with nothing but clear skies above, or a battle with Mother Nature’s angry side, when gales are added to a battle against gravity. We are very lucky to still have many places you can visit that are not only free of any people, but are also very pleasing to the eyes. The popular places are usually busy for a reason, so to get the place to yourself you need to go when most won’t…

I have always been a believer in the higher you go the more you see, and you want to see as much as possible! Climbing mountains gives you a feeling like no other and hopefully my writing has helped get some more into the outdoors. However in the case of my climb up Foggy Peak, I’d recommend tackling the mountain in ‘better’ weather conditions!

When it comes to exploring my own backyard, I have usually looked at more obscure places to explore, and this usually means I get what I am after – a mission void of any other humans.

Our popular hikes are popular for a good reason, and ease of access combined with incredible views make Foggy Peak(1741m) a popular trampers mountain. I had been up Foggy Peak(1741m) before and I remembered the mountain being covered with other hikers enjoying the battle against gravity to get to the top of a peak which is considered a Canterbury classic by many. Constantly passing others doesn’t give me the feeling of remoteness I enjoy, so to climb Foggy Peak(1741m) without big numbers of people I had to think outside the box.

I saw that there were strong north west winds in the forecast with the chance of snow later in the day. Perfect, this should keep the masses off the mountain!

Lake Lyndon from Foggy Peak(1741m)

As I crossed the Canterbury Plains from Christchurch I could feel the car slowing and shaking with each gust of wind. And when I got up to Porters Pass I wasn’t surprised to find the roadside car park empty and a mountain face free for me. I wrapped up warm knowing my wild weather gear was going to be really put to the test. After a quick final check I stepped out of the car ready to do battle with the forces of Mother Nature.

At first the climb was in a rather pleasant breeze and I pondered whether the forecast was wrong. I wasn’t exposed to the full force of the wind until high up the mountain on the final ridge to the summit, and it was from here that I fully agreed with the weather predictions.

The wind had stripped most of the snow off the peak, and the rocks were coated in a solid glaze of ice. A slip here would be nasty so I gripped at the ground and grasped what I could to keep me slowly moving forward. I kept low and used the sight of the summit as motivation to keep me going. Tussock and snow from lower down the west side of the peak was being flung into the air, and occasionally I would get a faceful of frozen foliage. The adventure was exhilarating to say the least! .

Pushing on I eventually came across the summit cairn, and I didn’t spend much time on the summit as the wind was telling me that this was not a place to linger. I very quickly took some pictures then started the descent, thankfully with the wind now on my back.

To my surprise the wind increased even more on the way down and the noise of each rush was deafening at times. It was at this stage that the area became much darker than earlier on in the mish and it felt like the sky was trying to be as intimidating as possible. Along with the darkness came snow, adding even more excitement to the “adventurous day out” I was expecting before I started.

As I neared Porters Pass the wind finally relented and it was time for the snow to take the stage. I got back to my car as the snow was starting to settle on both the road and my car. Knowing there was a chance of getting stuck I didn’t even take off my snow and ice covered jacket and made for lower land immediately.

I was lucky to get out when I did as on my way down from Porters Pass I saw snow graders making their way into the blackened sky of a good snow storm. Down low was an icy drizzle that made me happy to be in a car with a heater instead of still high on Foggy Peak.

After I got home I jumped online to see that the road over Porters Pass was at first ‘Chains Needed’ then about an hour later closed. It would seem I had timed my battle with gales and gravity perfectly, and as hoped I went the whole mission without seeing another soul!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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