12 March 2012

Mount Irene

Mike White had been talking to me about this proposal for about four years so when the opportunity arose and the weather looked good we were off. It took most of the day to get to Te Anau from Christchurch. Next day we kayaked up to the head of the south arm of Lake Te Anau – some thirty kilometres of paddling on, thankfully, a calm lake.

Brief Brew on Te Anau

Lunch at Saddle up McKenzie Burn
After a sandfly accompanied stay in McKenzie Hut we spent the next two days getting to Robin Hut.  The weather broke fine the following morning and we headed up towards Mt Irene via Robin Saddle.  We climbed high (too high) up under the bluffs of Mt Irene to a spot where we couldn’t go up, down or forward. The correct route seemed hours below us. It seemed that we would have to retrace our steps a long way to get back on track.

Lord Of All He Surveys from Esk Saddle
Little did we realize that there was a route down through the bluffs below, which would get us about to the easier NE side of the mountain. Never mind – we focused on the alpine flowers about us and slowly retraced our steps to the hut.

The main disappointment was that my camera decided to misbehave.

The following morning we struggled over Robin Saddle in thick mist and over the next three days retraced our route back to Te Anau.  Didn’t get to the top but thought out effort OK for an average age of 75.  We returned to Christchurch by Mt Cook, staying overnight in the newly refurbished NZAC Unwin Lodge, where artist, Dean Buchanan was artist in residence.

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