Loose Rocks to the Top – Peak 1916m (Wye Creek)

“On a Mish” #248 Peak 1916m Wye Creek (South Branch). Wye Creek Conservation Area. 14.10.2012. It is hard to fault the incredible scenery around Queenstown. From the turquoise waters of the very deep Lake Wakatipu, to the jagged peaks of the rocky Remarkable Range, the area is rich with beauty. The Remarkables Range lives up to its name all year round, but for me personally I think the peaks look best in winter, with a fresh covering of snow. Like a reverse ice cream in a cone, white pointed steeples reach for the sky, ending in sharp pinnacles towering over all below….

Access is via the ski field road at the ranges northern end, or via Wye Creek to the south, which divides the range from the Hector Mountains. Wye Creek is best known for its rock crags, which are excellent for climbing, and often dotted with adventure seekers testing their skills on the exposed walls. Since first visiting the area in 2010 I have returned many times, and along with some climbing trips I have also gone on adventures into the easily accessed peaks in the area.

My first ‘side trip’ from the Wye Creek Track was onto the faces that overlook Lake Wakatipu, and the views down to the lake made the mission one to remember. The great thing about being a hiking guide is staying fit while working, and daily mountain motivation getting you hyped for your outings on your days off. On this adventure I decided to head up the track above the confluence with Wye Creek’s south branch, then cross the creek and head for Peak 1916m.

Wye Creek

An early-ish start from the guide flat had me at an empty Wye Creek car park, well before any rock climbers had shown up. I followed the track’s zigzags in the crisp morning air, and then the well used ground trail up past the climbing crags. I took in the epic view of the lake from the track’s last high point before it began to follow Wye Creek into the valley above. Then crossed the creek just above the treeline, and started to climb towards a small saddle below Peak 1916m. The first part of the climb was in a rubble-filled gully, which provided some nervous morning moments on the mountain. Above the gully the going was easier, in golden tussock and the odd patch of red and grey scree.

Topping out was excellent until I realised my camera’s battery had died. A rookie mistake that meant I could only take mental pictures, and after soaking in the impressive view of the many peaks of both the Remarkable Range and the Hector Mountains I began my descent. Like on the way up, the only challenging part was tackling the loose rock gullies. As there were multiple gullies to choose from I took my time deciding which looked best (the least dodgy). I slipped and slid my way down on the dinner plates of rock, and at one point my feet flew out from under me and I swung around to catch my fall. After stopping my slide I realised I was gripping sharp rocks, and as I released my grip I felt blood starting to drip from the fresh cuts on my fingers. As I never go anywhere without my first aid kit, I was able to patch my hands up and then continue on back down to the creek, and then track back to my car.

Even with the war wounds I loved every minute on the off track mountain mish. Another unique adventure done and dusted, and another tale involving the use of my first aid kit!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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