Borland’s Sky Scraper (Part Two) – Mt Burns(1645m)

“On a Mish” #7 Borland’s Skyscraper (Part Two) – Mt Burns(1645m). Fiordland National Park. 25.3.2017. Each step upwards is one less to take to get to the summit. Sometimes this needs to be repeated in your head to keep you going on when your calves and quads are screaming at you to stop. Sometimes it feels like you are surmounting a skyscraper, but just remember how epic the view is going to be once you get to the top…

With my fellow Fiordland fanatic we eyed up the steep ground of Mt Burn’s west ridge with the mission’s steep reality starting to sink in. In only 500m or so we had gone from camp chairs, breakfast and a coffee, to a scramble up steep tussock covered country and up was the only option.

After a couple of minutes of quad’s pumping skywards the layers used to warn off the early-ish morning chill were being stripped and stashed into our packs. Climbing amongst the lingering clouds made for a stunning visual spectacle that is usually seen while in an aircraft. After ascending our first damp tussock covered challenge we arrived at the slightly less angled ground of the lower west ridge and this gave us views down to the Borland Road and up to the rocky summit ridge we were aiming for.

The stunning upper tarns on the south side of Mt Burns(1645m)

We arrived at the junction of the west and south ridges (the south ridge is how most people access the summit ridge) and continued on towards the craggy rock of the upper reaches of the mountain. The exposure of the terrain between the mountains’ low and high peak is awesome. A real test of mind over matter, as the climbing isn’t very difficult but the drop of nearly 1000m on the peak’s north face keeps you on your toes. Slowly we pushed on, carefully overcoming each obstacle as we got to it. In one spot the only way I could find around yet another rock tower involved traversing a tiny ledge, leaning backwards (towards the huge drop on the north face) to avoid rock at face level. The surges of adrenaline were intense, a mix of enjoyment, excitement and some fear to top it off. After an excellent scramble we were standing next to the pylon and rock cairn on the summit looking around at the mixture of clouds, peaks and untouched Fiordland.

Our escape plan was to drop down to the high tarns on the south side of Mt Burns(1648m), then cross over the upper basins and eventually return to Borland Saddle(990m) via the Mt Burns Tarns Track. Knee wrecking steep rocks took us off the exposed ridges down to the tranquillity of the upper mountains many tarns. From there it was a simple traverse up and over Peak 1476m, then down to the track and finally the road. Once back at my van we had completed an epic loop which included three peaks, rocky ridges, and delightful mountain tarns. Now it was time to soak in the feeling of achievement that floods the mind and soul after achieving another outstanding alpine adventure!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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