Big Backyard (Part One) – Mt Hodgkinson(1486m)

“On a Mish” #12 Big Backyard (Part One) Mt Hodgkinson(1486m). Hoophorn Valley. Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. 22.1.2015. If your backyard (and frontyard) is Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, then you’ve done something right! I was extremely lucky and# very grateful for my time working in Aoraki Mt Cook Village. Every day I spent living in the small village at the base of the Main Divide was epic, and in my short time there I did as many missions in my big backyard as possible…

Guiding on the Tasman Glacier requires weather that helicopters and/or ski planes can fly in and also be confident that they can pick us up a few hours later. A classic scenario was a still morning with wispy high clouds that seemed perfect for a guided hike on the longest glacier in New Zealand, only for the wind to kick up. By the afternoon the nor’west winds were whistling past the small group of buildings at the Aoraki Mt Cook Airport. My job was awesome and I’d rather work than play, however the weather was the real boss and it was hard but necessary to turn away clients on the still mornings when we knew a nor’west storm was coming. 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. With all of that said there was the rare occasion when a cancellation would mean a free day with fine weather, and that would be fantastic!

While working as Bar Manager in the Old Mountaineer Cafe I got chatting with a family who said they were keen to go for a fly and hike on the Tasman Glacier. Maybe it was just the wine talking, but the next day the booking was cancelled and with that I had a rare free day with fine weather. Only awesomeness would come out of this day!

Just out of the village is the small, unassuming Hoophorn Valley. Although the valley is smaller and less developed than most of the other huge valleys in the area, the place does pack a very photogenic punch with many pointed peaks, and standing proudest is Mt Sealy(2627m), a peak that dominates the valley’s head. I had dreamed of setting up my little tent in the valley and exploring the tops that surround it. I just needed half a day and a night for a camp and climb trip up Mt Hodgkinson(1486m).

Of course financially a cancellation is a bad thing for the company that I worked for, but for me it becomes a day for a mish. It was mid morning when I heard that I wasn’t guiding and within a few moments I was back at my little flat getting my gear ready for a night out in the mountains. The game was on and I was ready to play.

The Hoophorn Valley is only a ten minute drive from my home in Aoraki Mt Cook Village, so I was there in a flash and ready to bush bash. I didn’t plan on my van pushing through pointy foliage, however the overhanging matagouri on the old track showed me this was a rarely visited place in an area that gets so many tourists each year. Parked up and pack on, it was time to go on a mish in one of New Zealand’s best backyards…

High above the Hoophorn Valley with Aoraki / Mt Cook(3724m) standing tallest behind

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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