Butter Fingers (Part One) – Peak 1488m(Remarkable Range)

“On a Mish” #55 Butter Fingers (Part One). Peak 1488m(Remarkable Range). Remarkables Conservation Area. 7.7.2010. Wye Creek is located just south of Queenstown and has a large amount of rock climbing areas. On the occasions I have climbed there I have looked at the jagged peaks above and wondered what the view was like. There is something so appealing about elevation, and in this area there are plenty of elevated places to explore…

The Wye Creek area sits roughly midway along State Highway 6 at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu. The small yet powerful creek is the site of one of New Zealand’s first hydro power stations and is still in use today. Near the station is a track that zigzags beside the power station’s intake, and also just happens to lead you to some of the best rock climbing in New Zealand. Mountains, rock and views. What more could you want!

One day in July, when the snow was in terrible condition for skiing, I decided to head to Wye Creek and finally find out what the view was like. By this stage I had worked on the Routeburn Track for many years and with every hike we would drive past the Wye Creek area, giving me an awesome and enticing view of the mountain I would eventually attempt to climb.

I left Queenstown in the darkness of early-ish, and drove to the car park near the little power station. After sorting my gear I began to hike along the track and as I did the light of the new day began to reveal the many mountains that now surrounded me. Although it was now light, the Wye Creek area sits in the cold shadows of the Remarkables and this causes some places to ice up during the coldest parts of winter. Both rock and also ice can be climbed in this fascinating little location.

At this stage I was the only one around and, apart from the sound of the odd car, it really seemed like I was now on a trail deep into a remote mountain range. I hiked to a point above the treeline and began to encounter some fairly solid snow. The snow increased the higher I got and I knew at some stage my crampons would be put to use.

At the highest point of the track (before it continues up towards Wye Creek Saddle) I left the track and began to climb. The first part was in the endless winter shade and the snow was hard under my crampons. This made for good upward progress, and in the stillness I kicked my way up towards my goal.

With Lake Wakatipu now coming back into view and the snow capped peaks on the other side glistening in the sun I was really getting into this mish. At this stage issues were as far away as the glimmer of the sun in the cloudless blue sky. Surely this was going to be a fault free frolic in the frost above Wye Creek…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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