U-Pass & Beyond (Part 2) – U-Pass Basin & Beyond

“On a Mish” #231 U-Pass & Beyond (Part 2). U-Pass Basin & Beyond. Fiordland National Park. 27.4.2017. I always seem to sleep better when immersed in an adventure in the wild. One of the reasons is the amount of exercise you get when lugging a heavy pack full of camping equipment throughout the mountains. Also, the visual spectacle can be so much to take in that one needs a break from the beauty, even if only for a few hours when sleeping. If you can add the constant bubble of a mountain stream to this, then you have got yourself the perfect scenario for some mountain meditation… We were starting to dream of this as we looked up at the gut that leads to U-Pass…

The scramble up the gut was a great way to get the legs pumping, and due to the very obvious shape of U-Pass and clear weather, navigation was never an issue. At the top of the pass is a small flat spot only a couple of meters wide, and from here the views were spectacular. Seeing the white ice of the U-Pass Glacier increased the sense of wonder and adventure. After setting up camp in one of the best locations I have ever been in, all we could do was sit back and marvel at the epic surroundings.

Sleep eventually dragged us into the tent and as we drifted off to sleep amongst the mountains of U-Pass Basin, we were already dreaming of the exciting exploration to come on this mission. Big and better things were waiting for us after we both got a good night’s rest.

Along with its stunning beauty, Fiordland is a place of constant change. The storms that batter the southwest corner of Aotearoa are the stuff of legend. Wild weather can cause many tree avalanches and rock falls all within a matter of hours, and if the risk of avalanches and rockslides wasn’t enough, the place is prone to 1000’s of earthquakes each year. To say it is an adventurous part of Aotearoa would be a huge understatement!

Some of the ridge lines are broken by the deep gut of a fault line. U-pass(1395m) is a small section of one of these fault lines, and on the other side of U-Pass Basin is another fault line gut. The fault can be seen on the map cutting its way through some very rugged country. It wouldn’t have been a very good place to be when the fault line created the gut (plus other trenches in the hills).

From camp it was an easy wander across the tussock covered floor of the basin to the base of the crack in the mountains which we hoped would get us onto the ridge high above. After starting the uphill travel with some classic tussock climbing, the gut then became the perfect rock staircase. We began to gain altitude, and as we did the views got better and better…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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