When a Cancellation is a Good Thing – Mt Hodgkinson(1486m)

“A Mish a Day” #12 Mt Hodgkinson(1486m). Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. 22.1.2015. If your backyard (and frontyard) is Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, then you are in a pretty good space! Every day I spent living in the small village was epic, and in my short time there I did as many missions as possible. Guiding on the Tasman Glacier requires weather that helicopters and/or ski planes can fly in, and the clients to take there as well. Most of my free days were due to poor weather, and on these occasions I would venture into the lower peaks around the village if possible. Rarely, a cancellation would mean a free day with fine weather, and after a morning trip was cancelled, and with no afternoon trip, it was time for an adventure.

Just out of the village is the small, unassuming Hoophorn Valley, with Mt Sealy(2627m) dominating the cirque at its head. Luckily, I can pack my gear quickly, and my plan was to climb Mt Hodgkinson(1486m), and then spend the night camping in the valley. I pushed through the Matagouri overhanging the old track to the entrance of the valley, removing some of my car’s paint along the way. I quickly made my way to a point where I could access the west ridge of Mt Hodgkinson(1486m) via a rocky gully, and here I lightened my load by dropping off my camping gear. The gully acted as a road through the scrub and boulder-covered mountainside, and in no time I was standing on the pass between the two valleys, looking down into Birch Hill Stream. From here it was an awesome scramble on classic crumbly rock over several false summits to arrive at the true summit of Mt Hodgkinson(1486m). The visual spectacle from the summit was incredible, and I was lucky to be on top of a mountain on a warm, clear, windless summer day. From the summit I looked down to the many braids of the Tasman River, as it flows into the turquoise water of Lake Pukaki. After soaking in the epic view I turned back, and followed the ridge back to the pass between the two valleys. On the return journey I got a very good view of the snow covered south face of Mt Edgar Thomson(2379m), and I began to plan the next mission while still on this mish! I made my way down the rocky gully, arrived back at my campsite on dusk, and enjoyed my dinner with a lone Kea watching my every move. I was treated to a stunning sunset, with the snow on Mt Sealy(2627m) turning shades of red, orange and pink. Once the light from the sun had vanished, the sky began to glitter with stars so bright you felt like you could reach out and touch them. It was finally time to retreat to my sleeping bag, and I drifted off with the constant trickle of Hoophorn Stream providing a relaxing melody to go to sleep too.

An early-ish start was required the next day, as I needed to get back to the village to hopefully take some people up on the Tasman Glacier. In the low light of dawn I packed up my campsite, and then began my journey back to my car. The mission up Mt Hodgkinson(1486m) really showed how easy it is to find incredible campsites with very little effort, and it was only around a week later that I was back in the Hoophorn Valley on another adventure…

Rangatira Aoraki

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter