Borland’s Skyscraper (Part One) – Mt Burns(1645m)

“On a Mish” #7 Borland’s Skyscraper (Part One). Mt Burns(1645m). Fiordland National Park. 20.3.2017. Mount Burns(1645m) towers over the Borland Road like a huge skyscraper on a busy street in a booming metropolis. Jagged rocks reach for the sky on the mountain ridges on top of steep cliffs lining the northern faces of the great Fiordland Peak. When driving along the gravel of the Borland Road I am always blown away by the mountains which rise out of the earth near the Borland Lodge. Like a street lined with buildings everything towers above you, but in this city of towering skyscrapers there are no elevators to the tops…

The twists and turns of the Borland Road take you right amongst the big peaks on the eastside of Borland Saddle(990m). As the mountains close in around you, you begin to feel very small in a land of very big things. To be able to drive up to Fiordland’s alpine area is rare as there are only three roads in the 1.2-million-hectare national park, so I often use the Borland Saddle / Road area as a starting point for climbing adventures. After success on a few other peaks in the area (Eldrig Peak, Peak 1476m 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 and gravel of the Borland Road.

The plan was to head up to Borland Saddle in the afternoon to camp (getting a head start on the mission), then early-ish the next day climb up the west ridge from the road. I was not going alone when tackling this huge hill in the Hunter Mountains. Luckily, I was joined by my girlfriend at the time (another Fiordland fanatic), and together we made a formidable Fiordland mish duo.

We drove away from the houses, concrete, and cars of Te Anau south to the edge of the park near Borland Lodge. This was the last known inhabited spot so, from the unique accommodation complex the real adventure started as we left any real sign of civilization behind us and slowly cruised up to the highpoint of the road at Borland Saddle(990m).

The weather was just perfect for being up high in the mountains and together we enjoyed the spoils of a quiet night van-camping above the trees on the elevated saddle. Watching the sun setting behind the blur of hundreds of Fiordland mountains from the saddle is a delicious treat I have sampled many times, and knowing how good the taste is will keep me coming back for more for many years to come. After a meal and wine beside my van It was time to refresh and recharge and keep the excitement at bay until dawn the next day.

I woke up in the middle of the night to my van shaking in strong winds, and began to get nervous about our mission. Mt Burns is the type of mountain you want to tackle in fine to fine-ish weather. As the van rocked side to side, I was beginning to think that the weather forecast might have not been as accurate as first thought…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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