Man / Woman Vs Mountains (Part Three) – Barrier Peak

“On a Mish” #30 Man / Woman Vs Mountains (Part Three). Barrier Peak. Fiordland National Park. 25.5.2019. There have definitely been many occasions when I would have easily opted out of the situations I had gotten myself into. When you’re stuck on a bluff or into your second hour of trying to relocate a track that you wish you could just hit reset and start again. But unlike rugby, cricket or soccer when you can just walk off the field, going on adventures into the wilderness is different. When you play a game of man or woman vs mountain you must see the entire game through, and although you most certainly have the opportunity to turn back, quitting entirely is never an option while playing this game…

After my brief encounter with the man dressed for the gym I had kept on pushing my way into deeper snow. I was going to go directly to the low point between Barrier Peak and Barrier Knob but as I could see the top of the knob wasn’t that far away I decided I would traverse the two peaks on this mish.

The normal and most common way up Barrier Knob is via the ridge between it and Barrier Peak. But due to me using this as my route after I climbed ‘The Knob’ I decided to climb the south west face directly. This involved slogging my way up slushy slippery snow and this sapped my energy.

At one point I could see some rock that looked much more appealing to climb. I crept across the face towards the rock and as I was reaching out for it I felt the ground give away beneath my feet. Luckily one hand had gripped the rock and the other arm was jammed at my armpit on the edge of the snow. I quickly stabilised myself with my ice axe and then I looked down into the gap I had nearly disappeared into. I could only see the darkness of the depths and didn’t really want to think about how deep the small crevasse might have been.

After my little ‘interesting’ moment I continued on to the summit which was only a stone’s throw away. I took in the epicness and also noticed that beyond the dark water of Piopiotahi Milford Sound was a dark storm. It appeared that darkness was going to be the theme on this mish.

After regathering my thoughts on the top of Barrier Knob I began to make my way down towards the low point between the Knob and the Peak. The snow on the ridge was soft and horrible to hike on. I decided at the low point that I had had enough of this game of man vs mountain and it was time to head back down to the car park.

My hike back down was reasonably uneventful although I was very happy once I had got off the snow and back onto the rock and then Gertrude Valley track. Once back at my car and then on the journey back home to Te Anau I had a chance to recollect my mish and I realised it was a true epic. From hiking in the dark to clambering up and nearly into the snow, and then the sweetness of a summit with a reminder that you are in a place controlled by the weather and no games can be played when the rain falls in Fiordland. Although I hadn’t got to the top of the peak I originally intended to climb, I still had a great time and more importantly I survived this round of man vs mountain…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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