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Douglas & Karangarua Valleys

By August 26, 2012August 4th, 20208 Comments

Here’s some photos from an amazing Westland trip I did back in April with Hana and our regular West Coast mission tramping partners Anna Pilbrow and Tom Riley. I’d wanted to get to the remote and historic Harper’s Rock Bivouac, at the head of the Douglas Valley and tucked under the shadow of the Main Divide, for a long time. AP Harper was one of the founders of the NZ Alpine Club and a prolific early West Coast explorer and discovered the prominent rock bivouac during his exploration of the surrounding valleys and passes. With the recent clearing by DOC of the lower valley tracks and the route to Conical Hill it seemed like a good time to get in there. To top it off we had a perfect weather forecast and a full moon aligning nicely.

The trip:
Day 1: Road end to Conical Hill camp.
Day 2: Conical Hill to Horace Walker Hut via traverse route.
Day 3: Horace Walker Hut to Harpers Rock Biv via Douglas Lake and Glacier.
Day 4: Harpers Rock Biv to Christmas Flat Hut via Douglas Pass and The Gladiator.
Day 5: Christmas Flat Hut to Cassel Flat Hut.
Day 6: Cassel Flat Hut out.

Keep an eye out for my feature story on this trip in the September issue of Wilderness Magazine.
For full captions, check out the photos on my SmugMug page.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • JP says:

    Some great shots there Mark-o. Looks like some fairly broken down country!

  • James Broadbent says:

    What a fabulous trip.

  • I think I’ll contract you to organise the weather for my next excursion…

    Great photographs that evoke a powerful sense of wonderful country. Thanks Mark.

  • Norman Hardie says:

    Great journey. Day 3. How difficult is it to get round north side of the lake, just before the glacier outlet? N

    • admin says:

      Thanks Norman. Access along aside of lake is fine most of the way, just boulder hopping. Near then end you are forced over a bluff and onto a mixture of loose moraine and slabs for an hour or so before descending to the glacier. It’s reasonably safe and no rope needed. Would be serious in heavy rain.

  • Steve B says:

    Hi. Great trip, hope to be in there soon. Any slots or shrund to deal with on the climb from Douglas Pass to Gladiator? Eg: need to take a rope?

    • admin says:

      Hi Steve B,
      No, just a small amount of permanent snow. Two of us just had instep crampons and they were fine. The other two had proper crampons. No shrund to deal with, just a bit of route finding. We ended up dropping down into the Landsborough side of the ridge a bit to get around gendarmes. You end up crossing and then climbing a series of schist fins to get back to the ridge. Have a good trip!

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