So Close, And Yet So Far (Part Two) – Ben Lomond(1748m)

“On a Mish” #181 So Close, And Yet So Far (Part Two). Ben Lomond(1748m). Queenstown District. 25.11.2011. I have climbed above the Milford Road and I can say that it is weird to be on an exposed piece of rock with death drops either side of you, then hear the voices of people who have piled out of a bus to take in the views seen from the road. You are so close to people and safety, but if something went really wrong you would feel like you are miles from home and help. Another example of a mountain that is very close to a town but far enough away that bad mistakes place you miles from medical help. As we approached the summit of Ben Lomond we were glad to only be hearing tales about things going wrong instead of being involved in a tale of turmoil…

The late November day was just perfect for what we were doing. Sweat was prevented by a cooling breeze and, apart from the odd cloud, we had nothing but blue skies above. As we approached the last section of the hike our happy chatter eased off as the last part seemed to go on for a little bit longer than expected. But this only built up the anticipation for the glory found on top.

With calves screaming and quads nearly finished we huffed and puffed our way to the summit of Ben Lomond. The satisfaction was flowing and we even had a couple of Kea to share our victory with. As the Kea did their very entertaining thing we sat and looked at all that was on offer at 1748 metres above sea level. Along with the famous Lake Wakatipu peaks like Cecil and Walter, we could see the glacial-clad massive of Pikirakatahi Mt Earnslaw and also the perfectly carved white pyramid of Tititea Mt Aspiring. To my surprise, way off in the distance we could see the distinctive three peaks of Aoraki Mt Cook. What a sight, what a place!

Time is always the enemy of climbing a mountain and as much as we wanted to stay on top, we knew we had many steps to go before we could enjoy our well earned Fergburger back in town.

Our descent went well and on our way down we passed many people heading up the peak. The afternoon was slowly rolling along just like we were and to our surprise as we went through the forest near the gondola we encountered people just starting their Ben Lomond adventure. The fact that they asked us “how far is it to the top?” showed us how unprepared they were for climbing a proper mountain.

We made it back to town, and after the toughest part of the day (waiting in the Fergburger queue) we could finally relax. While we kicked back and munched down on a Queenstown staple we wondered if the people we saw at the end of our mish would make it up and down Ben Lomond. Or would we be seeing them on the news or reading about them in the newspaper!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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