Eldrig Peak, Fiordland (6th Dec, 2014)

Eldrig Peak

The route I took. (The DOC sign says 4-5 hours to the tops as long as you are fit and dont lose the track the whole round trip can be done in 6-7 hours)

So Rebecca had decided to do the Kepler challenge that year which consists of running the Kepler Track (60 km) in a day. This was kind of weird as the year before I had asked her if she wanted to walk it in a day it with the Otago tramping club and got a flat no. However in the succeeding months it went from a flat to a maybe to a grudging yes. Now with getting Rebecca to do something she doesn’t want to the trick is to suggest the trip, get a ‘no way’ then let it go. Now what will happen is that you have planted a seed and she will go away have a look at it herself and slowly talk herself into it. You can gauge how far she is to a ‘yes’ by casually suggesting the idea in the middle of a conversation about another tramping trip. Even better is to get someone else to suggest the trip, then she also thinks its not just one of my harebrained schemes. So she grudgingly said yes to doing the Kepler with the tramping club. We got most of the way around, bailing at Rainbow reach, which was the 50 km mark, cause we had had enough and the other 10 km is pretty boring. After finishing Rebecca grandly pronounced ‘that while the Kepler was a nice and rewarding walk doing it all in once made it unnecessarily hard and it was to be once off’. Fast-forward a month or so and Rebecca comes to me and grandly pronounces that she is ‘going to enter in the the next Kepler Challenge Race because she thinks she could actually finish and get a better time’, madness! (she clearly had gotten a dose of Type Two Fun).

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Looking West with Borland Burn South Branch and Borland Road centre, and Mt Burns upper left.

Anyway, while Rebecca was doing the Kepler challenge I decided to knock off a peak in the Te Anau region by myself instead of waiting around for her to finish. After researching the area for decently high peaks within an hours drive and reachable in half a day, I decided on a traverse of Eldrig Peak just off the Borland road. So after seeing Rebecca off at the start line at 6 am I shot down to the  Borland road. The sign at the turnoff to the Borland road warns off non-4WD vehicles but, with a touch or trepidation, I ignored it and the road turned out to be fine. After parking and climbing up the side road, I had a bit of difficulty in picking up the start of the track which was a bit overgrown and had a few false starts. However, once I got into the bush proper the track was fine.

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This bit was not as steep as some other stuff I have done. However, it was made considerably moretechnical due to the very strong winds.

When emerging from the bush and into the tussock the views were welcome however at the ground was quite boggy. Apparently, the month before, Southland had 2 meters of snow and twice the average rainfall, so it wasn’t too surprising. However, i was suprised by my GPS as apparently I was off the track by nearly half a kilometer, despite standing next to a track marker. So as note to others the track is wrong on the Topo map and actually heads towards point 1269. Once on the tops I had a decision to make, go directly to the peak via the right, but rougher route, or the left which is gentler but longer. Seeing as it was going to rain in the afternoon I decided on the right which, although shorter, was definitely not quicker. From 1415 to the peak I got continually bluffed and had to drop off the ridge and attempted to summit the peak via a very steep rocky gully directly to the north, which normally would be fine, however the wind picked-up and I seriously considered turning back, as one mistake would have seen me tumble 1000 m back to the road. However, a touch of summit fever and a fair bit of scrambling on all fours got me to the top.

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West: Mount Burns and and Unnamed lake.

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South: Southland and Lake Monowai.

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North: Mount Titiroa. Note the sandy top sometimes fools people into thinking its covered in snow. (We climbed this the next year).

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East: Takitimus and the small lake I walked past back to the car and, uncharacteristically, no, I did not go for a swim.

At the summit it was even windier so after a quick 360-degree photo and a selfie I called a retreat. The way back down via the South ridge was much, much, easier, more like a road actually. After swinging past the small lake I picked up the track and it was only a short walk back the car.

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Eldrig peak from near the bushline. Note the craggy ridgeline to the left of the peak compared to the rolling right side.

Because I had wanted to be at the finish line to support Rebecca end her race I was worried I was taking too long and hadn’t stopped to rest or eat all day. However, my worries were unfounded and instead ended up waiting at the finish line, in the rain without a jacket, covered in mud for two hours. But I knocked off another named peak and got to see Rebecca successfully finish the Kepler challence so it wasn’t all bad.

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The Wife. Stretching and stuffing her face after the Kepler Challenge (I reckon it was all just an excuse to eat lots of junk food guilt free).

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