Mt Xenicus(1916m) – The Big Thumbs Up (Part Two)

“On a Mish” #17 The Big Thumbs Up (Part Two) – Mt Xenicus(1912m). Mt Aspiring National Park. 13.1.2011. Light breezes and sunshine, check. High up a mountain ridge, check. Outstanding views in every direction, double – no triple check! A place I would like to be all the time, but would that make it less impressive? …. Nah!

We were close to the top but couldn’t celebrate yet as we still had to surmount the last section of our route. This was a mixture of the west ridge route and the south face. The rock was awesome to scramble over and offered really good grip where needed. Josh let me take the lead for the last section of the climb, and as I write this many years later, I still clearly remember the view that greeted us as we topped out on Mt Xenicus(1916m).

There are certain moments engraved into our minds that make something not just a hobby you do sometimes, but something you have to keep doing for the rest of your life! One look at the panorama from the summit of Mt Xenicus(1916m) is enough to turn anyone into a wilderness addict, and the view was enough to keep any alpine addict very satisfied.

We both kicked back and enjoyed the reward for our effort in the glorious midday sun, with only a light breeze blowing. From the mountains around Lake Te Anau in the south to the Darran Mountain monsters in the north, we definitely had an excellent meal of some of the finest mountains in Aotearoa (or the planet!).

Josh High up on the West Ridge of Mt Xenicus(1916m)

Knowing what we had come up snapped us back into reality, as we had to somehow get ourselves back down the mountain to the safety of the Routeburn Track. With no intention of going near the chimney on the west ridge, we picked our way through the bluffs on the shoulder, which in turn had its own challenges.

On the way down we had a great view of the alpine gem that is Lake Wilson. The lake is guarded on all sides by mountains, as if the giant pool is in a very well fortified mountain fortress.

Small ledges would lead to massive cliffs and deadends (literally if you kept going that way!), so we carefully took our time and eventually found our way through the near vertical maze.

Our descent route took us into the secluded ‘Valley of the Trolls’, located about 1km north of Lake Harris. The small valley is an incredible mission in itself, one I returned for on a later date.

We had had nothing but sunshine all day, and now we were feeling the effects of a day in the hot sunlight, and the lack of shade. So to cool down, the mission was capped off by a swim in Lake Harris with a flock of ducks that just happened to be there at the same time as us. After our swim it didn’t take long for us to dry off in the afternoon sun, and as much as we wanted to stay at the lake we pushed on, as we had a victory feast to enjoy once back down at Routeburn Flats.

That night we had a couple of whiskeys, while once again watching the sun setting on the snowfields of Mt Somnus(2293m), reminiscing on another amazing day out in the mountains. I couldn’t wait for my next Routeburn Track trip so I could finally walk past Mt Xenicus(1916m) and say “I’ve climbed that!”

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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