The Familiar Unknown (Part Two) – Peak 1346m (Turret Range)

“On a Mish” #183 The Familiar Unknown (Part Two). Percy Saddle / Turret Range. Fiordland National Park. 26.11.2017. The 1:50 000 scale of topo maps in New Zealand does leave a lot to the imagination. A few simple orange lines grouped together can represent massive bluffs / cliffs mixed with all sorts of other travel-slowing obstacles in tiger country. Many times I have studied topo maps for new routes to all sorts of different locations, and I know from experience that the NZ maps are just a rough idea of what the terrain is like in the area…

As it was my first foray into the Percy Saddle area I looked for an easy peak to get my relationship with the area started.

The three mound ridge to Peak (1405m) west of the saddle looked like it had everything I was after. Not too steep or narrow, and high enough to give me some epic views of the surrounding area, including Lake Manapouri. To get to the summit I would need to traverse over a smaller peak (Peak 1293m) then drop down to a small col before reaching the east ridge of Peak 1405m. Seems simple enough, and now that I was here I had nothing else occupying my mind. Knowing that the forecast was for a short sharp southerly blast then clearing, I didn’t let the dark clouds hanging over the Turret Range dull my enthusiasm for the adventure at hand.

The power lines coming out of the Manapouri Power Station head south over Percy Saddle on their long journey to Tiwai Aluminium Smelter in Bluff. Each pillar needs road access for repairs and maintenance, hence the road from West Arm over the Turret Mountains into the Grebe Valley. The wide and flat road surface means you can just put your head down and power hike up to the saddle.

The skies got darker with each step and some might find the situation a little bit intimidating, but I had trust in the weather forecast and was hoping the front would roll through overnight and the skies would be clear the next morning.

Camp Above Percy Saddle

I got my first view of the impressive waterfall at the head of the Wolfe Burn Valley, and by the time I had found a good campsite on the large open saddle a very cold rain had begun to fall. There was a definite chill in the air as I arrived in the alpine zone above the treeline, and thanks to charging up the last section of road I was warm in the winter-like environment.

The rain quickly turned to snow, and under the watchful eye of a lone Kea I quickly set up camp before my gear got soaked and covered in snow.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening ducking in and out of the tent, avoiding blasts of snow as on and off showers rolled over the mountains from the west.

Some might not enjoy being high up in the mountains getting hit by the opposite of ‘good weather’ but I was happy in my new temporary home on a hill in a very, very spectacular place…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter