Mt McPherson(1931m) – Part One

“A Mish a Day” #14 Mt McPherson(1931m) – Part One. Fiordland National Park. 16.3.2015. The art of soloing a mountain can be both very rewarding, but also very dangerous. Extra care must be taken as you have no one around to raise the alarm if something goes wrong. Working in the mountains and learning more about glaciation makes the Mighty Darran Mountain Range in North-West Fiordland even more fascinating. The uplift of the mountains from valley floor to the top of the peaks hurts the neck, and we are lucky in Aotearoa to have the Milford Road grazing the edge of the Darran Mountains in the Upper Hollyford Valley…

Moving to Te Anau has brought me closer to this mighty mountain range, and I take every opportunity I can to venture into the land of the giants. When slowing approaching Homer Tunnel, the mountains really close in around the road near the tunnel’s mouth. The steep east faces of Mt Moir(1965m) above left, and Mt McPherson(1931m) on the right, are both connected by the famous Homer Saddle(1375m). For an area only a stone’s throw away from a major highway few take the many extra steps to get up to the saddle. A tough climb yes, but definitely worth the effort if you have the time and more importantly, the experience. Being a huge fan of some of Fiordland’s toughest explorers, William Grave & Arthur Talbot, it was only a matter of time before I would have a crack at Talbots ladder (south ridge of Mt McPherson) and climb Snowball (original name given to the mountain by Grave and Talbot). Visiting an area of danger is both exciting and a little unnerving. The saddle has had a few fatalities over the years, and this emphasizes the need for extra care when traveling in such dangerous surroundings. I was very lucky to start the climb with a night at the most luxurious and charming accommodation in all of the Darran Mountains, Homer Hut(NZAC), quietly located just off the road in the Upper Hollyford Valley. As always an excellent, and possibly later than planned night in the hut, chatting with the other climbers spending the night in one of the two comfortable bunk rooms.

The McPherson Cirque

Having only the morning available for the mish, an early-ish start was needed from Homer Hut, starting with a walk up the road in the dark to the tunnel, then heading up the Homer Saddle Track towards the rock rubble below Homer Saddle(1375m). This area was once bustling with the activity of road workers who were digging their way through the solid Fiordland granite to get to the Milford side of the mountains. Nowadays the base for the road crews is further down the valley, and is an impressive new modern looking building. The sun was still blocked by the steep sides of the valley, and there was a definite chill in the air. Clear skies above, and a mountain to climb in front. Today is going to be an awesome day…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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