Last on the List – Mt Aicken(1863m)

“A Mish a Day” #174 Mt Aicken(1863m). Arthurs Pass National Park. 4.9.2014. It is unfair to simply just ‘tick a mountain off a list’, for each peak should be respected for its place on this planet just like us (humans). With that being said, when I climbed Mt Aicken(1863m), it was due to running out of peaks to climb out of the mountains that tower over the little gem of Arthur’s Pass Village…

The day before I had had an epic adventure on Rome Ridge of Mt Rolleston(2275m), and on the descent I was already eyeing up the south west ridge on Mt Aicken(1863m). Starting with Avalanche Peak(1833m) is the best way to get an idea of the mountains in the area, as it has a marked track from the village to the top and back again. After Avalanche Peak(1833m), I then ‘ticked off’ the rest of the peaks in the area which are marked tracks until above the treeline, and each mish was epic with experiences and views to match. Finally it was time to climb the last of the mountains and head up the Mt Aicken Track, and an early-ish start from Arthur’s Pass Village was going to be needed. I strolled up silent highway 73 in the cool, crisp morning darkness. During my stroll along the road the volume switch slowly turned up with the local birds’ glorious morning chorus. I left the road and crossed over the Bealey River, and It was now light enough for me to see the impressive 112 metre high Devils Punchbowl Falls rumbling down from the snow filled valley above it. I was looking forward to seeing the valley from above later in the morning. I climbed higher, and with every water break I could hear the groans of truck engine braking as the traffic quickly picked up on the now busy road over Arthur’s Pass(920m). The route above the treeline, following the south west ridge, was mostly free of snow apart from a couple of patches near the summit, so this meant my crampons were on and off all morning. I had a classic moment of head down, deep breaths, working hard and then I was suddenly on the summit without realizing it!

The view from the top was brilliant, considering Mt Aicken(1863m) is one of the ‘smaller peaks’ in the area, and its location makes for outstanding views down the Bealey River to the mighty Waimakariri River, and the array of large peaks in the Craigieburn Range. I had to return to Christchurch that day, so unfortunately I couldn’t spend too long taking in the view, so after a few quick pics I was off again. On the descent I didn’t take any chances with the small snow patches, which had deadly run offs straight to Deadsville if I was to slip. This meant I had plenty of opportunities to refine my crampon attaching and detaching speed, always better than ending my career of being alive! Unfortunately I now had to look elsewhere for a new adventure in the National Park, luckily you don’t have to look far in this incredible little pristine piece of Aotearoa…

looking south from the summit of Mt Aicken(1863m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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