27 April 2013

New Zealand Feb 2012 - The Five Passes Days 1 & 2

The Five Passes. Days 1 & 2 - Beans Burn and Fohn Lakes
Five Passes Elevation Profile In the southern end of Mt Aspiring National Park, a near loop done anti-clockwise by us, incorporating Fohn Saddle, Fiery Col, Cow Saddle, Parks Pass and North Col. Our plan was thus.
Five Passes Route MapDay 1: Jet boat from Glenorchy up the Dart River, and then climb 450m up Beans Burn to the Rock Biv (11km)
Day 2: Climb 660m to Fohn Saddle, then up and down another 300m for Sunset peak (6km)
Day 3: Drop 370m to the Olivine Ledge. Climb 400m up Fiery Creek to Fiery Col.
Drop 500m to Cow Saddle and a further 200m down Hiddle Falls Ck (10km)
Day 4: Drop a further 200m before climbing steeply 550m to Park Pass.
Up and then down 400m to Park Pass Glacier, before climbing a further 300m to Lake Nerine (13km)
Day 5: Climb 100m whilst traversing to the North Col, up and then down 200m to Peak 1796, then descending 800m to camp way down on Route Burn North Branch (12km)
Day 6: A doddle walk out, dropping 240m to the Routeburn Shelter to catch a bus back to Queenstown (8km)
All in all, climbed and descended about 3100m over about 60km. Stage 2 - walk up the Beans BurnWe chose to go anticlockwise to speed up the walk by using a jet boat to get to Beans Burn. Many people tramp the segment between Route Burn and Beans Burn, but it adds a fair part of a whole day.
Beans Burn is a typical NZ glacial-fed stream. Azure blue, freezing, quite capable of drowning you if you cross in the wrong spot. Luckily, it has a bridge to cross to the true right. Rain was predicted, and we thought it best to negotiate bad weather down low than up on the exposed tops.
Gettin' rainySort of worked. We were pretty wet and cold by the time we made the Rock Biv. Eight hours walking for 11km and 450m ascent, some of it in bog and some of it in the water.
Left: Beans Burn getting bigger.
We decided not to camp in the cave of the biv, as it was easier to clear the tent of sandflies, and there was sufficient break in the rain to pitch the tent.
"A tiny blue dot set in a sunbeam. Here it is. That's where we live. That's home." - Carl SaganNext day, the rain had cleared, leaving a gorgeous mist in the valley. The light was sublime. And then the climb up to Fohn Pass. You basically turn to face the valley wall, and start walking (well, you have to pick the right spot to negotiate the pass, as there are rock walls above). Keep going up 600m - some of it on scree - and you've got there. About 6km.
Below: Beans Burn from Fohn Saddle. The valley view extends all the way to Lake Wakatipu, visible about 35km away. Beans Burn was an awesome little valley.
Beans Burn from below Fohn Saddle

And then of course there's the view from the other side of the saddle... The Bryneira Range is over the Olivine Valley. Sunset Peak - with its head in the clouds - is directly behind Fohn Lakes, which are just hidden above the gully.
View NW from below Fohn Saddle
Below: Fohn Panorama. Left to right: The foot of Brenda Peak, Fohn (nearly 300m above the lake) and its reflection, Niobe Peak being pointed to by the strata, the smaller Fohn Lake with Fiery Peak ridge behind it, and the Bryneira Range behind that, with Alabaster Pass rightmost. A five image panorama, this is one of my favourite view from the trip.
Snow daisiesAfter climbing Sunset Peak, a further 300m, we came back down for dinner and shut eye. Fohn Lakes continued to drift in and out of cloud, as it had been doing all day.
Next, day 3.

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

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