A New Zealand Adventure: Barrier Peak, Part 2
Waking in the darkness at 4am I geared up and set off, with nervousness of finding a safe route up, coupled with a huge sense of excitement. I could see the stars above, though the valley below was filled with clouds, perfect conditions for the best for mountain photography. As I climbed up, the dawn began to approach and the sky began lightening, but I noticed the clouds rising to block out the ridge behind me. I knew I was going to need to rely on my GPS data to backtrack safely through the fog. This was the steepest and most exposed part of the scramble, and I was grateful for knowing I’d be able to navigate back down regardless thanks to the reliability of Powerocks charging my devices the evening before.
I reached the summit just a few minutes before sunrise, and spent the next hour frantically photographing as the sun quickly rose and cast gorgeous morning light over the fog filled valley. To the north of my peak there was a whole line of snow-covered mountains jutting out from the clouds, and it made for a beautiful sight. Once I felt the morning light had faded and the colour become less intense, I turned to find the route back down the mountain. With the clouds now almost as high as the peak itself, I knew I had a long descent through the mist to find our camp. I knew I could rely on both my phone and GPS to help avoid me taking any wrong turns and avoiding the huge drop-offs to either side. Descending something like this in clear daylight is always a great experience, however coming down dangerous terrain when you can’t see more than a few metres ahead is somewhat less enjoyable. Despite the thick mist, I was able to navigate correctly and eventually saw the dim shape of the tent emerge out of the fog.
After packing up camp and returning to the valley floor via the previous day’s route, I had a guilty feeling of satisfaction that the weather underneath the cloud-level was mostly rain. I felt all the more fortunate for having been able to climb above that cloud and see such an incredible sunrise when everyone else was waking up to grey skies and drizzle.
I would HIGHLY recommend anyone with a good level of fitness and mountain experience to make the hike up to Gertrude Saddle in the Milford Fiord area. The views from the mid-point alone are worth the effort. Going further up to Barrier Peak requires a knowledge for heights and the correct mountaineering equipment. This should never be attempted without previous experience and much planning.
*Powrocks was proud to sponsor James on his New Zealand adventure, and is still providing stunning pictures from the trip. Stay tuned for more!*