Mount Cook’s Foot (Part One)- Mt Wakefield(2058m)

“On a Mish” #149 Mount Cook’s Foot (Part One). Mt Wakefield(2058m). Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. 18.12.2014. The mountains in the Aoraki / Mt Cook area swell in bulk so much some would question if they are on steroids! The massive peaks in the National Park not only dominate the area, they ARE the area. In any other setting Mt Wakefield(2058m) would stand as a huge mountain dominating the place. But of course being in the heart of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, Mt Wakefield(2058m) is almost considered a small hill when compared with its much bigger surrounding mountain brothers…

I looked at the mountain from the balcony of my little house in Aoraki/Mt Cook Village, a stunning sight to see each morning when starting my day. After arriving in the small town set amongst the biggest mountains in Aotearoa, I settled in and then that mountain went on the to-do-list.

Getting to the summit took two attempts, as the first time I was driven off the mountain by high winds and rain that stung my face like being hit with millions of tiny pieces of glass.

The next time however, I was lucky enough to time my climb pre-storm which created an eerie atmosphere as along with the dark sky, storm clouds rolled over each low point on the Divide from the west. I was joined by my girlfriend at the time, and the weather was ‘questioned’ when I explained the day’s plan.

When approached from the south the mountain is reasonably straightforward, following a continual ridge to the summit from the Tasman Valley floor and this was the way we would tackle Mt Wakefield(2058m).

An early-ish start from the base of the ridge was definitely needed to complete the climb before the forecast afternoon rain.

The first section was a good grunt, gaining altitude quickly as the track wove its way around the knee-scratching scrub on the lower sections of the mountain. The well beaten path was easy to follow due to many years of use, and although it doesn’t have markers we always knew where to go.

Above the tree-line the track made its way through incredible fields of Mt Cook Lilies, which brightened up the dull grey of both the rock on the mountain and the clouds in the sky above.

A series of smaller peaks needed to be surmounted before reaching the mountain’s upper basin which contains the peak’s’ two main summits. Below the mountain’s twin summits is where alpine scrub becomes barren exposed rock and snow, and very few plants dare to grow here.

We got into the snow of the lower summit(2012m) and the mountain gave us the message that we do not belong here, in the form of an increase in the wind and lowering storm clouds. As much as I love a good storm, this was not the place to view it from. After a couple of photos and a deep breath of alpine air we began our descent…

View of Mt Sefton(3151m) from near the summit of Mt Wakefield(2058m)

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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