The Percy Saddle – Part Two

“A Mish a Day” #183 The Percy Saddle – Part Two. Fiordland National Park. 11.11.2017. The 1:50 000 scale of topo maps in New Zealand does leave a lot to the imagination. A few simple orange lines grouped together can represent massive bluffs in tiger country. Many times I have studied topo maps for new routes to all sorts of different places, and I know from experience that the maps are just a rough idea of what the terrain is like in the area. As it was my first foray into the Percy Saddle area I looked for an easy peak to get things started…

The tri-ridge Peak (1405m) looked like it had everything I was after. Not too steep and high enough to give me some epic views of the area. To get there I would need to traverse over a smaller peak (Peak 1293m) then drop down to a small col before reaching the east ridge of Peak 1405m. Simple enough, lets go! Knowing that the forecast was for a short sharp southerly blast then clearing, I didn’t let the dark clouds hanging over the Turret Range dull my enthusiasm for the adventure at hand. The powerlines coming out of the Manapouri Power Station head south over Percy Saddle on their long journey to Tiwai Aluminium Smelter in Bluff. Each pillar needs road access for repairs and maintenance, hence the road from West Arm over the Turret Mountains into the Grebe Valley. The wide and flat road surface means you can just put your head down and power hike up to the saddle.

A Spectacular Camping Site on the Percy Saddle

The skies grew darker as I got my first view of the impressive waterfall at the head of the Wolfe Burn Valley, and by the time I had found a good campsite on the large open saddle it had begun to rain. There was a definite chill in the air as I arrived in the alpine zone above the treeline, and thanks to charging up the last section of road I was warm in the cold environment. The rain quickly turned to snow, and under the watchful eye of a lone Kea I quickly set up camp before my gear got covered in snow. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent ducking in and out of the tent, as snow showers rolled over the mountains in the west, and then over the saddle unloading another sprinkling of the chilly white stuff. I was happy in my new home on a hill in a very spectacular place…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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