The Higher You Go (Part Two)- Mount Bruce(1630m)

“On a Mish” #82 The Higher You Go (Part Two). Mt Bruce(1630m). Black Mountain Range. Craigieburn Forest Park. 27.6.2019. Most people probably love to wake up in a big soft bed, nice and warm, covered by a luxurious duvet and many soft pillows. As nice as it is, I prefer a slightly different sleeping arrangement. No sleep-easy mattresses needed when I have a collection of rocks on a mountainside! As strange and uncomfortable as it sounds, there is a method to my madness. And if elevation is added into the equation then uncomfortableness is forgotten, just like the stresses of the real world…

Thanks to my alarm I woke very early-ish and knew the coldness was going to be bitter. I reluctantly left the warmth of my sleeping bag and stepped / stumbled out of the tent and into the dark cold morning air. After taking care of morning business I brewed a much needed cup of coffee, making sure it was as hot as possible to warm me from the inside out.

The idea of standing in the frigid morning air staring at the vastness that surrounds you in a daze probably isn’t many people’s cup of tea, but as stated I’m a coffee person!

I wanted to be high up on Mt Bruce(1630m) before the first rays of the sun appeared, and after a cuppa that warmed me to my soul I was on my way.

Instead of enjoying my breakfast at camp I packed it into my bag with the goal of enjoying it on the summit of Mt Bruce(1630m). Food + elevation = a quality meal.

I took a direct route up the tussock and scree of the north face, aiming for a large patch of snow which I hoped would speed up my uphill progress. It definitely did and with ease I kicked my way up to the north east ridge. I started to follow the ridge up towards the summit when I realised I needed to hurry as I could see the sun starting to light up the tips of the biggest peaks in the area.

When the going is tough at normal speed it is a real challenge to go faster, but with the motivation of ‘the higher you go the more you see’ I somehow found an extra gear.

I got onto the summit just in time to see the sun’s dramatic entrance, and as tough as the extra effort was, it was definitely worth it. Over a period of about five minutes, peak after peak each had their turn at glowing first pink, then slowly fading to orange. There is no better time to be high up in the mountains.

Climbing up to the North East Ridge

While most people in Aotearoa were sitting at their dining room tables or on the couch enjoying their breakfast, I was on the summit of Mt Bruce(1630m) devouring the delicacies of a delightful dawn display.

After a breakfast of mountains and muesli bars it was time to return to my camp. Instead of heading down the way I had come up I chose to hike down the west side of the peak to the Lagoon Saddle Track. Spotting the orange markers meant my time boulder and snow hopping was over.

As I began to pack up my tent I was joined by a couple of Kea who, after watching me pack up, escorted me back to the entrance of the pine forest. It was either perfect timing or there might have been the rare Kea who didn’t enjoy destroying unprotected property. Whatever it was, I was happy that my camping kit wasn’t chewed to death.

The alpine escort left me once I entered the dark forest of introduced trees. I’m guessing they knew that beyond the forest was not only the danger of mankind but also its many introduced pests.

The track through the forest is one where you can go into auto-pilot and, instead of focusing on your feet, you can recollect the happenings of your epic mission.

There was much to savour on this mish as climbing Mt Bruce(1630m) had been on my radar for many, many years. Ever since visiting Lagoon Saddle back in 2013 I knew I would return to the area and see what it looked like from up high. Because the higher you go…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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