Avalanche Peak via Scotts track - why it's a must? | New Zealand. Arthurs Pass.
Have you ever done something that is really really challenging for you and you don't even know if you can really pull that off, but then you just do it. The after taste and the satisfaction feels so good.
My first big accomplishment was in 12th grade when I was fighting for a scholarship and possibility to even go to university. There was an issue with my application and the jury never got it. I was rejected even before the interviews started. So it was the first time I didn't tell anyone (especially grown ups) and I fought my fight alone. It was hard to convince them to even look at my application and that it was an error with the email.
I got the scholarship.
It felt incredible.
But this is not a story about that. This is a story about the physical challenge I had when hiked the trail that was way out of my league. The hike I wasn't prepared for. The hike that will always stay in my memory as the best and the hardest hike I have done... so far.
The whole drive up to the Arthurs Pass village was an adventure. Steep road, surrounded by bare cliffs, mountains, waterfalls, valleys and gorges. I was glad our car made it. Because we saw a lot of cars overheating and breaking. We were the lucky ones. Our car needed just a little time out and it was good to go.
So we decided to spend some relaxing days in Arthurs Pass. We stayed in a free campground near Bealey. It was close to a river and very windy, but it was the perfect place for dinner and chill surrounded by the glorious mountains.
We decided to take at least one nice and long hike in the area. Turned out there was a nice loop track just up to the Avalache Peak. It starts at Arturs Pass Village, as Avalache Peak track and you can come down to the other side following Scotts track. It was Spring and the mountain tops were still covered with snow. In the information center they claimed that one side of this mountain was completely covered in snow, therefore it was dangerous for unexperienced climbers (exactly like us) without the needed gear. Always get the information in the information center, before the hike, so you can be prepared or make any adjustments.
So we were advised to reach the peak using Scotts track and come down the same way.
And so we did.
The trail started very very steap with large rocks. It almost felt like we try to climb a waterfall with no water. We thought that it's just the beginning and it will definitely get much better. We were climbing using all four extremities, and for the most part it was impossible to do it any other way. I wished I would take work gloves at that point.
After 30 minutes the track was still the same. We were surprised that it was still very hard to climb and we crawled most of the time. Sun was getting hotter and even though the day wasn't that warm, we were on the sunny side of the mountain and I didn't felt so good. I was boiling inside out.
As we were high enough, there were no more trees and no more real shadow. I tried to hide under the bushes, to rest a little bit and cool down.
We vere lucky, because there are couple of natural streams on the way up, where to fill our water bottles with the delicious mountain stream water.
After four very hard hours we finally reached a meadow and a first snow. We felt like we finally make some progress. The top of the mountain was close. I could feel it. It was wonderful and the views around stunning. We chilled a little bit and met people going down the hill. I asked how far is to the peak and their answer shocked me to the core - Around 1,5 hours, - they said. It didn't sound close at all. The climb was already so challenging and it felt like we fought this fight already. Turned out - we had some more climbing to do.
And then I saw an older man (he looked around 50) and his father (!!!) slowly coming towards us. That was the push I needed to keep going. There was no going back without reaching the peak.
As we followed the trail poles and exit the meadow we saw the raw "face" of the mountain. It was covered with dark, sharp rocks and snow in some places. We could see the top of the peak from here and it looked really close. Sun was still bright, bet the temperature much lower. We felt the cold wind.
Have you ever read "Wild" By Cheryl Strayed? If not, you should. This was the time I finally understand what she was thinking by writing this about mountains: "They were, I now realized, layered and complex, inexplicable and analogous to nothing. Each time I reached the place that I thought was the top . . . there was still more up to go. . .".
And so it was.
We were walking above melting snow what could come down in a landslide any minute. Crowling right on the top of the mountain ridge, seeing awalanche zones on both sides. It was terrible for me. I hate hights. And this was big challenge for me to even keep going.
But I had to. Something in me needed to keep going, needed to put my fear aside and prove I can do this. It was inner fight. Battle. Every time it felt like we are so close to the peak, I was mistaken. The top of the mountain kept fooling us, kept walking away from us.
And then I saw it. Kea flew right above my head. This Alpine parrot could mean only one thing - we are close. We finally reached the Avalanche peak after more than six hour climb up. The last meters felt so easy.
We sat on the little flat square - our destination and finally had something to eat. Soon we were joined by three Keas. They looked so cute and kept coming closer. They knew that with hikers - there are always food. And although it is FORBIDEN, a lot of people still feed these birds. I know, it is hard to resist. They know how to beg.The native mountain parrot should eat such things as native berries, seeds, insects including giant weta and roots. People food can make them sick. Chocolate could be even lethal. The number of keas decrease, so we should be really careful around them. Never leave food unatended while in mountain areas.
It is hard to describe the feeling when we finally sat on the top of that Peak. But it really reminded me of one of those life battles I had in the past. Just when you think you are not going to make it, you do and everything falls into place. Our bodies were tired, but so full of joy.
You can see in the additional pictures below how exactly looked the last kilometer of our hike. And you can decide is this hike for you or not. It definitely wasn't for us, but we did it anyway. I guess we did it just because we didn't know how hard it's going to be. We didn't check the level of the hike or what to expect. Maybe it was a mistake, but maybe If we would know, we wouldn't even try... and that would be a shame.
It took us more than two hours the get down. It would take more, but we really rushed.