The Creations of the Mountain Gods (Part Two) – Phil’s Bivvy (Upper Tent Flat to Lake Adelaide Basin)

“On a Mish” #400 The Creations of the Mountain Gods (Part Two). Phil’s Bivvy (Upper Tent Flat to Lake Adelaide Basin). 20.4.2016. After a little reccy up Moraine Creek in Fiordland’s Darran Mountains I knew it would only be a matter of time before I returned for more however, I knew I needed more experience before I pushed on further. Many years later, and with the power of education and experience on my side and the motivation of studying the Darran Mountain Climbing Guidebook I was trekking my way towards the famous Phils Bivvy with my Girlfriend and along with the dramatic scenery our adventure would have its own share of drama…

We walked, climbed, scrambled, and bashed our way onto the openness of Tent Flat. The name is a little misleading as although there is a couple of acres of open area, most of it is swamp and it wasn’t until we got to the top end of the flat that we found a good place to pitch our tent. After finding a good place we paused to take in where our feet had got us, and where we would be waking up the next day.

Around early-ish the next day we were up getting ready to go and not only did we have another bluebird day, we also had a close encounter with a couple of Whio / Blue Ducks. To see these unique waterfowl in their natural environment. What a start to the day!

From Tent flat there is still some ground to cover before getting to the northern end of Lake Adelaide. We slowly plodded our way upward past the location of the former Moraine Creek Hut which was destroyed by an avalanche back in the 80’s. A hut here would be awesome but there is something special about going to a place were there are no signs of mankind.

We surmounted the mound that keeps the lake where it is, and the first view was one I had seen many times in the Darran Mountain Climbing Guidebook. The top end (southern) of Lake Adelaide is a special place that makes you feel small in a strangely good way. Great peaks like Sabre, Marian and Barrier sit a top great cliffs of grey granite. If you didn’t like mountains and were dropped here, I’m sure your opinions about uplifted land would change.

We began the tricky part of the mission (I’m not saying that everything before here was easy!) which is sidling the lake on the ledges below Sentinel Peak. You can’t beat a trail into some of the hardest rock on earth, so cairns are the only way to show the way to easier ground. We took a couple of wrong turns and ended up either too high or too low and had to scramble to get back on track. We didn’t want to get bluffed by going the wrong way, so we had to take our time, and this meant it was well into the afternoon by the time we got to the top end of the lake.

Below the bluffs of Adelaide Saddle and near the infamous Giffords Crack is lovely little Lake South America. This spot alone would be worth a visit, but we still had about a kilometre to go before we reached Phils Bivvy.

Not long after passing Lake South America I had to stop for a bathroom break. I took my pack off and sat it down upright beside me. The pack tipped slightly so I corrected it with haste before attending to my business. About mid-stream I head the unmistakable sound of someone’s gear going for a tumble. Not only did my pack have many vital bits of kit, but it also had all of my clothing. It would seem that the mountain gods were testing us, and in a very short amount of time we had a very big problem to solve. A few four-letter words echoed throughout the Lake Adelaide Basin…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

Subscribe To my newsletter