Mt Burns(1645m) – Part One

“A Mish a Day” #7 Mt Burns(1645m) – Part One. Fiordland National Park. 20.3.2017. Mt Burns(1645m) towers over the Borland Road like an over-sized skyscraper on a busy street in a big city. Jagged rocks reach for the sky on the mountain’s ridges, with steep cliffs lining the northern faces of the great Fiordland Peak. When driving along the gravel road, after turning off the Blackmont Highway you are immediately blown away by the mountains which rise out of the earth near the Borland Lodge. The twists and turns of the Borland Road take you right amongst the big peaks on the eastside of Borland Saddle(990m), and as the mountains close in around you, you begin to feel very small in a land of tussock and rock-covered giants. This area has fascinated me for years, and even when writing this I am thinking about the next time I will visit the mighty Borland area’s mountains…

After success on a few other peaks in the area (Eldrig Peak-1595m, Mt Borland(1547m) and travels along the Borland Saddle Ridge), I decided it was time to have a crack at the mountain which looms over the crushed granite of the Borland Road. The plan was to head up to Borland Saddle in the afternoon, then early-ish the next day climb up the west ridge from the road. I wasn’t going to tackle this particular peak alone, so I invited another Fiordland fanatic for the mish. Together we made our way to the top of the road, and enjoyed the spoils of a quiet night van-camping above the treeline on the elevated saddle. Watching the sun setting behind the blur of hundreds of wild Fiordland mountains from Borland Saddle(990m) is a treat I have enjoyed many times, and hope to enjoy for many years to come. I woke up in the middle of the night to my van shaking in strong winds, and I began to get nervous about our mission.

Early-ish the next day I peered out the van’s foggy windows to see an excellent sunrise, and more importantly, a still morning. Low cloud lingered below us, trapped in the deep valleys waiting for a breeze to lift them into the heavens. The scene was set for a Fiordland epic, and with bubbling excitement we smashed down breakfast and a coffee within a few seconds. The only downside (literally) about climbing the full length of the west ridge is descending the road to its base. Adding additional meters to a climb is just more training I guess?! With the sun now rising from the plains of Southland in the east, we hiked the 500m or so down the road to the base of the west ridge. From its base, the scramble up steep tussock covered ground looks like a rather extreme morning warm up…

The Craggy Ridgeline of Mt Burns(1645m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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