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A New Zealand Adventure: Barrier Peak, Part 1

By James Appleton, Landscape Photographer


Of all the hikes, climbs, sunsets and sunrises that I witnessed while in New Zealand this last December, one particular expedition stands out – a two stage climb up Barrier Peak from the beautiful Gertrude Valley, in the south-west Fiordland region. We started by bushwhacking for a few miles up a intimidating valley, and then following hundreds of waterfalls up the far bowl of the valley late in the afternoon. The aim was to scout out, and possibly climb, the nearby mountain known as Barrier Peak. Not typically a difficult mountaineering expedition, this area has claimed lives in the past. The climb involves steep sections of late winter snow, and the drop-offs to either side are treacherous.

GertrudeSaddleHiking and scrambling up the first section through broken clouds, we reached the famous Gertrude Saddle late in the day. By this point the snowfields were wet and slushy, and I made the decision to pitch a camp here for the night, on a flat section of earth, and continue the climb before dawn. By then the snow would have frozen overnight, giving a much safer surface to ascend on. However after an incredible sunset over the valley far beneath us, clouds rolled in and it was with some sense of foreboding that I lay down for a few hours of sleep. Before nodding off however I made sure to ensure both my GPS device and mobile phone were both fully charged – I would be climbing this last section alone in the pre-dawn night. I knew that access toCamp1 both accurate position data and the ability to call for help might be essential. Leaving them charging overnight on my Powerocks magicube I knew they’d be reliable in the morning…

(To be continued.)

*Powerocks was privileged to sponsor James on his New Zealand adventure. The rest of the incredible climb and more beautiful photography coming soon. Read New Zealand Adventure post #1 from James here. *