Big Backyard (Part Two) – Mt Hodgkinson(1486m)

“On a Mish” #12 Big Backyard (Part Two) Mt Hodgkinson(1486m). Hoophorn Valley. Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park. 22.1.2015. I bought a house in Te Anau so I could be as close as possible to the mighty Darran Mountain Range. I guess this shows how much I love big blocks of land that stand tall enough to have their heads in the clouds…

Aoraki Mt Cook is known as ‘The Cloud Piercer’ and to see New Zealand’s largest and most legendary lump of land is a privilege, and to live in the shadow of the great peak was a dream. If I had spare time I would spend it exploring one of the best backyards in Aotearoa, and one of my intentions on each mish was seeing the biggest block of land in New Zealand…

Rangitira Aoraki

It was just before lunchtime and I was ready to chomp down on some epic scenery. I followed the true right riverbank and, thanks to the river’s low flow I could get most of the way up the valley via the riverbed. This was excellent because option B was to push through bush that wants to slash you to pieces. I avoid matagouri whenever possible and to avoid the prickly plant and keep my feet dry was a bonus on a mish that had just begun.

I made my way to a point where I could access the west ridge of Mt Hodgkinson(1486m) via a rocky gully, and here I lightened my load by dropping off my camping gear (hopefully the local Kea don’t find it!). By this stage I had carried my pack for about an hour and without it I felt like I could fly!

Now with only a small pack of gear I began my battle with gravity. A rubble-filled gully that breaks up Mt Edgar Thompson (to the right) and Mt Hodgkinson(1486m) acts as a road to a small pass on a ridge between the two peaks. It also means you can by-pass the the scrub and other nasty plants that cover the mountainside.

Within no time I was sweating up a storm standing on the saddle / low point between the two valleys. I turned around to see Aoraki looking taller than ever. The cancellation might have been bad for the company, however the employee was making the most of the unexpected day off…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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