Sweet As (Part One) – Sugarloaf Pass(1154m)

“On a Mish” #39 Pretty Sweet Scenery (Part One). Sugarloaf Pass(1154m). Routeburn Track – Te Awa Whakatipu / Dart River. Mt Aspiring National Park. 10.8.2010. When I took a chance and took up the opportunity to work on the Routeburn Track my life changed in a very positive way. A whole new world was opened up and hiking was not only my job, but my favourite pastime hobby as well. My office was an adventure playground and while the guiding was awesome I’d walk past side tracks and wonder how sweet the scenery was that way?…

The Routeburn Track might be the most challenging hike some people have ever done. Its many ups and downs take you over some very rugged terrain. Luckily the track is very well maintained and staircases and handrails aid trekkers in places of potential danger. But if you were to take one of the many sidetracks things change rapidly. Few stairs will be found and the paved highway of the Routeburn is replaced by a much more natural beaten trail.

One of the tracks that is accessible from the Routeburn is the track over Sugarloaf Pass and into the entrance to the Rockburn Valley. From all accounts I had read about the pass it sounded like a great place to put my two feet. But to make things a little bit more interesting I tackled the track during the winter.

Upper Peak(2072m) from halfway up the Sugarloaf Pass Track

The stage was set for an epic mountain outing and I wouldn’t be tackling the driving part of the journey. My mate Dave (Diggidy) had decided a winter mish sounded pretty cool so we threw our gear into his car and set off towards Glenorchy. The road between Queenstown and Glenorchy is one of the best on the planet, and with the winter snow sitting atop each peak we were visually blown away even before we began the walk!

As we drove we discussed our plan. I would hike over the pass while Diggidy took the Lake Sylvan track, and then we would meet at Rockburn Hut. The Sugarloaf Pass Track can be made into a loop by using the Lake Sylvan Track so this all sounded very cool to me.

We drove up the Routeburn Road and it was like the place was frozen in time. Small creeks were frozen and icicles hung where water was once dripping. Large clumps of snow caused the branches of the trees to hang low over the road and in places we would knock the snow off and this would send the branches pinging into the air. The atmosphere was cold but we were firing to get going.

The two tracks are about a five minute drive apart, so Diggidy dropped me off first and while I began my hike towards the start of the Sugarloaf Track he headed to the Sylvan track. It was time for the both of us to go look at some pretty sweet scenery

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter