Into the Mist (Part Three) – Eldrig Peak(1595m)

“On a Mish” #36 Into the Mist (Part Three). Eldrig Peak(1595m). Hunter Mountains. Fiordland National Park. 22.11.2013. When playing a game of ‘climb the mountain’ you have a lot of aspects to look at to make sure you survive the game. Experience is the most valuable tool you can have in the mountains, and sometimes you get this experience very unexpectedly. Having reasonably clear skies in three directions doesn’t mean you’re all good, as there can be potential danger lurking just out of sight…

I was high up on Mt Eldrig(1595m) and I had no idea that there were clouds approaching from the west (out of sight). Clouds / mist that would not only take away the epic views of the surrounding area, but also the visibility. To escape off this mountain I’d have to head into the mist.

In hindsight I would recommend climbing the peak via the south west ridge, as the rock on the north east is loose in areas and it makes the traverse between the ridges high points ‘interesting’ in places. I managed to make it to the summit via the many rocks and hops on the ridge after some delicate manoeuvres. Disturbing some loose stones and then watching them smash their way downward was enough to keep me on my toes!

From the top I could see the lower valleys were cloaked in thick clouds, however all major peaks in the area stood above it alone, like a group of islands in a sea of white. I have to admit that I’d much rather this sort of view than a bluebird, clear sky view.

With clouds starting to swirl around as it lifted from the valleys in the west I took in the epic view for the last time and then began my retreat off the mountain.

I started heading towards the large basin on the east side of Mt Eldrig(1595m), and about ten minutes after leaving the summit the clouds closed in. It was amazing how quickly it went from clear to grey, instantly taking away what I was looking at only moments before. At this stage I wasn’t overly worried as I had gravity on my side and my plan was to just go downwards and surely I’d hit the track back to my van, right?

Every now and then I got brief glimpses of the tarns / boggy area in the basin below me, and this gave me enough of a view to see if I was heading in the right direction.

At one point a brief clearance showed me that I had walked past the track head and was now too low. Nothing like some EXTRA work added to your big day! Now with a real idea of how mist can muck up your route-finding skills, I began my clamber back up to the route down off the mountain.

I eventually found the faint track through the scrub, and then I spotted the glorious giant orange triangle marking the start of the track back into the forest. It is funny how a large piece of orange plastic can give you so much relief.

Finally I could relax as I knew I didn’t need to worry about finding my way in the miserable mist! With a grin of success I arrived back at my van and was happy to be out of the cloud and with Mt Eldrig(1595m) another peak to add to my list.

Eldrig Peak(1595m) is definitely a ‘real’ mountain and should be treated with respect. The high elevations do leave you exposed to the elements and mist is definitely something to be wary of. But with that said if you love a good mish and want some excellent views of Southern Fiordland and lower Southland, then this is the peak for you!!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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