The King & Queen of Erewhon (Part One) – Mt Potts(2184m)

“On a Mish” #10 The King & Queen of Erewhon (Part One). Mt Potts(2184m). Hakatere Conservation Park. 20.5.2017. In some locations around New Zealand there will be certain mountains that stand out much more than others. In the Lake Clearwater area there are two peaks that find themselves in most people’s pictures of the pristine place. When looking west from Lake Clearwater you will see the areas mountain King and Queen, and for some seeing will lead to climbing…

If you have been lucky enough to have been to Lake Clearwater on a cloudless day then there is no doubt you would have seen the twin peaks of Mt Potts(2184m). The gentle rolling ridges do a good job of hiding the mountain’s steep challenges. What looks like an easy climb turned out to be a much bigger mish than expected.

Like so many adventures in the area, I began my mission with a night at the cosy crib / bach in Lake Clearwater Village. I often visit during the winter time when I am up in the Christchurch area. My former winter norm was to head north from work in Fiordland and prepare myself for snowy adventures in the Canterbury High Country.

On this adventure I was joined by my girlfriend at the time and we both were excited about testing our skills against the Hakatere giant. Both of us had seen the twin peaks for years and finally the time had come to stand on top.

The winter is a quiet time in the little mountain village surrounded by great lakes, and often I would be one of only a couple of people enjoying the place during the cold months.

A refuelling feast followed by a solid sleep is a must before climbing. It would be an important factor due to the amount of work we were about to do while climbing Mt Potts(2184m). Whatever we ate we would definitely burn off the next day!

Early-ish the next morning we arose before the birds and the light of dawn. After a warm up coffee we loaded up and were driving along the road Mt Potts Road towards Erewhon Station. Within the dark of the night the car’s headlights revealed the glimmer of frost covering every exposed surface. It was going to be a chilly start to the day.

Normally, most people will hike into the hanging valley west of the peak via the old ski field roads. We wanted to do something a little bit different, so we attacked the peak via the south ridge, which dropped away from the summit to a shoulder which hung high above the road we were on.

After tying our boots and saddling our gear we set out bound for the top of Potts. The car was parked right beside a small creek which looked like a way up to the ridge. It was very cold, so cold that we came across multiple areas where the water was flowing underneath solid ice. The creekbed was a glaze of ice like it had a clear coat on, and in places stepping on the wrong rock would have twisted our ankles into the reverse direction. To say the area was slippery would have been like saying there is a little bit of water in the ocean! Each step had to be pre-thought out to avoid an early finish.

As we gained height, so did the sun and it wasn’t long before we could see not only the path ahead, but also the vast views of the Two Thumb Range and massive Rangitata Valley. Finding the much needed mountain motivation wasn’t going to be an issue on this mish!

On the South Ridge of Mt Potts(2184m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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