28 April 2013

New Zealand Feb 2012 - The Five Passes Days 5 & 6

The Five Passes. Days 5 & 6 - North Col, Route Burn North Branch, Routeburn Shelter and home
Though we didn't leave 'til after 11am (resting and waiting for the fog to lift), day 5 became a bit of a biggy. It's a fairly simple (in good weather) alpine traverse to North Col (top of Route Burn North Branch) 1100m above the Hidden Valley Ck, and then following the North Branch down towards Routeburn Flat (camping before getting that far). Peaks 1796 is 200m up and back down from North Col, otherwise most of the elevation (800m) was dropping into the North Branch, which went for about 8km (in rain) before we camped.
Below: North Col, as seen from the traverse. Peak 1796, which we climbed for lunch, is on the right.
North Col
Below: "Just a Few Feet Below". From Peak 1796, looking down Hidden Falls Ck and onto the Hollyford River with Lake Alabaster in the distance. The drop's a little shear, about 1300m!
Just a few feet below...
From North ColTime to move on. Looking down to the valley of Route Burn North Branch. A very long valley (about 11km) it took about 5 hours to get from here to our campsite. Yes. That's about 2km/hour! This photo shows part of the reason. To get down from the North Col, we had to traverse over the steep scree slope that you see before you. Better that than hard icy snow without crampons!
Getting bigger nowThe North Branch was getting bigger by now, as it was starting to rain. Crossing back and forth became more difficult, as we tried to keep to the cairns. Around here I fell in whilst trying to skip over some rocks whilst crossing. Further downstream, there were places where the pad - what there was of it - would simply disappear, and you'd be left throwing yourself against vegetation to get through to the vague clearing that you thought might be a track. I think next time it would help to keep a sharp eye out on the true right for the true track...
Below: I know I was getting pretty tired by now. We had been walking or climbing for nearly 10 hours. Whilst the traverse had been fun, the peak exhilarating, and the river descent interesting, I was really ready for rest by now. Still, it really was a beautiful setting.
Final campsite
Below: Even though it was a relatively "benched and boring" final morning's 8km walk out, the Routeburn Track still turns up some pretty spots.
Diptych Prev (Day 4)
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As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

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