Main Divide of Southern Alps

The Southern Alps – Kā Tiritiri o te Moana

23rd September 2020

Last weekend I went out in search of landscape panoramas for the book. My intention was to create something that showed fresh snowfall covering the Main Divide. And the timing of the shot would be crucial – sunset, post storm, with clearing skies.

I began my Saturday morning by climbing back up familiar terrain – the Fox Range. This was the route I used with Ruari MacFarlane to complete the first winter traverse of Torres and Tasman in June. I collected a lot of great action shots on that trip but not quite the landscape shots I was after.

The forecast was good, but shortly after my first break on Mt Fox, the cloud began to build. For about 5 hours I was in a whiteout, with occasional light snow falling. The situation was just confusing enough for me to have to use my GPS to navigate. I also needed to kick snow ahead of me just to tell if I was going up or down. Yes, it was that white and fluffy that I didn’t know what the next step would bring. Nothing can help with that kind of disorientation. No map, GPS or special glasses can see through flat, white light.

But I continued on nonetheless to the summit of Craig Peak where I set up camp. And then with perfect precision, the clouds began to clear. It couldn’t have been more timely.

Why did I not try to climb one of the few remaining routes? Well, there has been an enormous amount of new snow over the last 10 days, and my guess is that any dabbling around touchy steep snow slopes would not end well from an avalanche perspective.

August & September activity

The weather and conditions have not been favourable through August and early September. Any clearances have been brief, and one failed attempt at Mt Hicks ended pretty early in the piece.

With the advent of La Niña it is likely that the unsettled trend of having only brief fine spells (in the high mountains) will continue for September and October. But rest assured, I’ll continue to wait and watch for the opportunities.

Wild podcast MC

It was a real pleasure to speak to Jonny Carson on about all things nature and adventure – a topic close to my heart in case you didn’t know.

We talked at length about many subjects including:
– Unresolved stress becoming chronic illness
– Stepping out of my comfort zone
– Growth Mindset
– How I developed a passion for mountaineering, despite growing up in Ireland where the highest mountain is about 1000m
– Why it’s important for me to climb 24 mountains in order to write a book.
– How halting all guiding in New Zealand for 2 years is/ was a scary prospect.

Have a listen , and if you feel like you haven’t got the time, try listening at 1.5 times normal speed. I find that the brain can listen faster than it can think and speak….plus it tends to make me sound a lot smarter than I am!

Enjoy, and as always, you can follow more regular visual updates on social media:

Follow on Facebook

Follow on Instagram


Get the Latest Trip Reports from Seeking The Light

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Scroll to Top