Crying Wolfe (Part One) – Wolfe Burn Peaks

“On a Mish” #53 Crying Wolfe (Part One). Turret Range Traverse. Fiordland National Park. 6.4.2019. Even though West Arm is busy with tourists going to Patea / Doubtful Sound, or those going to work at the power station, it is easy to escape the masses and find some serenity amongst the magnificent mountains that surround the area. Many times I have travelled across Lake Manapouri with intentions of climbing high above arguably New Zealand’s most beautiful lake. With a busy summer season in Patea / Doubtful Sound coming to an end I was crying out for a mish and the Wolfe Burn Range was also crying out. Crying out to be traversed…

I’m a huge fan of the Percy Saddle area and for a remote part of Fiordland access is reasonably easy. Along with Leaning Peak(1477m) and and one of the Turret Peaks(1346m), I wanted to continue to tick off the mountains that surround West Arm on Lake Manapouri.

On a cool morning in April I took a Real Journeys ferry from Pearl Harbour to West Arm, and as normal I was the only person onboard with climbing and camping gear. The boat was reasonably full, and on the trip across the lake I had a yarn with a fella who was wondering where exactly I was heading to.

After parting ways with hopefully the other humans I would see for a couple of days. I left the lucky people who were on their own adventure in this pristine part of the planet. It is always awesome to see the smiles of the faces of new visitors to the area.

I then followed the power line road for a couple of hours which starts in West Arm then heads up to Percy Saddle(1075m). My plan was to clamber my gear up to what looked like a good spot to set up my basecamp in the flats of the Upper Wolfe Burn Basin. I would spend the night here before heading out early-ish the next day to traverse the range that stands above the small remote valley.

I began to unload my pack and it was as I was setting up camp that I heard the spine chilling shreeeek of a local campsite inspector. Very rare with none to spare, the Kea is the only alpine parrot on the planet and their inquisitive / destructive nature has made them famous around the world. Thankfully, for now, the Kea were happy to soar high above my camp. As I began to get comfortable in my surroundings it felt like someone was watching my every move.

Light southerlies meant clear skies and low temperatures. This is the weather I hope for on my days off and my hopes are becoming a reality. One third of the adventure down and dusted, and my spirits were high.

My plan was to circle the basin via the tops in an anti-clockwise direction. From my camp most of the peaks were out of view, blocked by the sheerness of their lower reaches. The steepness made the area a little bit intimidating but for some reason that acts as motivation to push me to the top. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy stroll, so I got to sleep as soon as I could to conserve the energy needed for the next day’s mish…

West Arm of Lake Manapouri from Above

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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