Leaning Peak(1477m) – One and Done (Part One)

“A Mish a Day” #2 Leaning Peak(1477m) – Part One. Fiordland National Park. 29.12.2017. It is amazing what you will put yourself through to get a sense of adventure. Some outings, when broken down, don’t sound like much fun. An uphill slog or crossing icy rivers to some would be considered tourture. But for those who love the outdoors it is just part of the fun…

I have always enjoyed the excitement of a new mission. Going to a place where you don’t know what’s around the next bend makes for enjoyable hiking / climbing, and throughout New Zealand you can fill in a lifetime of outdoor activity and not visit the same place twice. With that said, there are definitely places I have returned to over and over again, knowing that I am in for a treat each time. However, Leaning Peak(1477m), which is located above the West Arm of Lake Manapouri, will be a mission I am happy to have done but have no real interest in doing again. In some of the earliest paintings of the Lake Manapouri area you can see a peak that looks like it began to topple over, then paused mid fall creating the unique shape of Leaning Peak(1477m). The mountain can be seen by keen mountain spotters on the far side of Lake Manapouri on the way into the Te Anau Basin. With the endless peaks of Fiordland blurring into each other and thanks to foreshortening the mountain looks much closer than it actually is. Access to the base of the mountain is where anything resembling easy travel finishes, as it needs to be accessed by boat. For some very Marky like reason I decided to include a night camping on the peak when I headed there late in 2017 with my girlfriend at the time. Due to its lack of water, along with the camping gear I needed to carry the extra weight of water for drinking and cooking. It is safe to assume that our packs were a little bit heavier than ordinary camping packs, but enthusiasm and excitement always helps with getting you going when wearing a pack that is over half your own body weight. The route up the mountain began behind the West Arm Power Station, a marvel of engineering that still impresses 50 years after it’s construction.

Camp high on Leaning Peak(1477m)

The going was surprisingly easy as we passed through a small cave which was dug out of the mountain to aid with a water supply for the power station. After the cave we came across the old water pipe, which helped with navigating the thick bush for a couple hundred meters. The start of this adventure really lured us into a false sense of security, as what was to come would prove to be anything but easy. Above this we followed animal tracks at first, then it was some good old fashioned steep bush-bashing. Having full packs made some of the scrambling interesting, as the pack would get caught up in the tree, and this would always happen in the worst situations. On a few occasions the only way up was into, then up and over bush covered rock bluffs. In places, to get past the foliage, we had to lean back to dislodge snagged branches off our packs, with logic telling you to not lean towards the very dangerous drop below. After what seemed like days we finally bashed our last bush and got above the worst of it, finally onto the more open shoulder of the mountain. This was the best place for camp, and will go down as one of the most spectacular spots I have ever pitched a tent. With the forecasted rain the next day, we decided to stash the heavy gear and head for the summit straight away. It was tough to get going again after such a challenging morning, but with the forecast it was our only choice, so after a quick bite to eat we set off once again…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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