Up. Down. Done. (Part One) – Potts Range Peak(1948m)

“On a Mish” #123 Up, Down, Done – Part One. Potts Range Peak(1948m). Hakatere Conservation Area. 23.9.2014. It was love at first sight when my eyes got their first taste of the grandeur that is beyond Lake Clearwater. The area was once much different than the quiet remoteness found here. these days, as Sir Peter Jackson and crew were here in the late 1990s and early 2000s making Lord of the Rings movies. Nowadays the place sits in silence waiting for its next lucky visitor, and thanks to the movies a steady stream of fans have been travelling to the remote spot from all over the world. There are only a couple of places in Aotearoa that keep pulling me back again and again like a powerful tractorbeam and one is the snow-capped mountains of the Upper Rangitata, west of Lake Clearwater…

Easy access to the biggest peaks in the Potts Range (North East of the Upper Rangitata) is a simple wander up the old Erewhon Park Ski Field Road. The Erewhon Mountains look down on the popular day hike up Mt Sunday(611m), once the site of ‘Rohan, Land of the Horse People’ in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies. With the range being so close to Lake Clearwater Village (the starting point of many NzHikes missions) it was only a matter of time before I began to explore, then climb.

The large hanging valley and its surrounding mountains were once busy with skiers enjoying the facilities of the Erewhon Park Ski Field. This is no longer in use and the remains can be found amongst the rocks and snow in the valley. The ski field might be gone but the bulldozed road is still there, and acts as a direct path into the mountains. As the years went by I would return each winter after a summer of guiding down south for more alpine missions / training. Experience can only be gained by doing, and this is a place where I would gather a huge amount of experience / future knowledge.

Early-ish in Lake Clearwater

As the winters went by I would pick a few peaks to climb, and most of the time either before or after (or both) I would stay at my little home away from home in Lake Clearwater Village. On this mish I had the pleasure of staying at the crib in the village both before and after which meant epic feeds and excellent sleeps each end of the mission.

A forecast of ‘clearing to fine weather’ was good enough for me, so after packing the car I waved goodbye to the burdens of the real world and headed towards the magical mountains of Hakatere, and the cosy comforts of the crib at Lake Clearwater. Early-ish the next morning I was refuelled and refreshed, and most importantly, ready to climb a mountain. Part one of the mish was the short drive from the village along the Mt Potts Road to the base of the old bulldozed track up into the Erewhon Mountains and the location of the retired ski field. From here the real adventure began as from here the rest of the mish was going to be on my own two feet…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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