U-Pass & Beyond (Part 3) – The U-Pass Glacier

“On a Mish” #231 U-Pass & Beyond (Part 3). U-Pass Glacier. Fiordland National Park. 27.4.2017. Over time New Zealand has experienced some of the most rapid glacial recessions on the planet, and unfortunately this has led to Fiordland being stripped of most of its glacial ice. Places which were once white with ice are now areas of worn rock with only a few signs that a glacier was once there. To see a Fiordland Glacier is a real treat and my girlfriend and I were not far off see the ice of the glacier beyond U-Pass…

The coarse granite in Fiordland offers grip even when wet. It can take some getting used to as most of us have been taught that wet rock is slippery. Even though the inside of the gut was damp it still offered excellent grip and it wasn’t long before the top of the gut was reached. We clambered onto another higher basin which abruptly ended in huge cliffs down into Mistake Creek. This spot would make a great camping site as there are tarns for water as well as a large flat spot for tents.

We continued to climb higher and soon it was time to tackle the undulation of the southeast ridge of Peak 1699m. Travel along the ridge was the excitement climbers dream about when back at their homes. At some points we had to shimmy along the ridge with a leg either slide, as the ridge was too narrow to walk on. Either side were drop offs which would give you plenty of time to contemplate while you plummet towards the full stop on your life’s story!

With all of our focus on climbing the ridge we didn’t realise it, but we were now high above the U-Pass Glacier. To go further would have required a downclimb and to the ice and then crampons to cross it. We were here on a sightseeing mish and we both decided that where we were provided enough sights for both of us.

Fiordland has some of the cleanest glaciers in the world and sadly most have melted away to nothing. The ones that remain are a real spectacle due to how white they look. Mountains composed of hard granite, and constant blasts of rain keep the glacial ice clean of the moraine dust which coats most of New Zealand’s other low-lying glaciers. from our vantage point we were looking at the glimmer of one of Fiordland’s last great glaciers.

Our mish to U-Pass and beyond had provided the goods that we were after plus so much more. It was now time to get back from the beyond part of our mish and back down to U-Pass for a snack and to contemplate the next part of our adventure…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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