Bold Peak from the Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains NZ

Epic views from Bold Peak (2118m) in the Humboldt Mountains, including of Mt Bonpland, and a good dose of adventure on your way up.

Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains

Climbing Bold Peak (2118m) was a very satisfying hiking experience. It was adventurous enough to feel like an achievement, especially doing it by myself. The views of Lake Wakatipu are excellent, but even more impressive are those of a very rugged Mt Bonpland, and the big turquoise coloured tarn in neighbouring Sleepy Hollow. The walk up offers attractions too, from the start in ferny beech forest on a nicely graded track, to a rocky tarn shelf in the latter half of the walk.

But it’s not all fun and games. The crux of the walk is in the mid section, a 650m vertical climb up a gully over just 900m horizontal, and on rotten terrain – a mixture of slippery and spikey vegetation, loose rock, and bare earth. I slipped a few times and hurt my hand on one occasion. There was some swearing. Route notes at the end.

Bold Peak from the Glacier Burn Track: The Scenery

Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Very ferny in places.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
There were mushrooms about.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Bit of atmosphere in the beech forest on the initial climb.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
A pleasant clearing in the forest.
Glacier Burn Track, near Glenorchy
 This is the view above the treeline on a clear day. This photo was taken some years earlier.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Beginning the climb up the scree filled gully.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Alpine flowers in bloom.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Same plant at different elevations.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
The end of that gully almost in sight. It took ages to get up there, almost two hours.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Bold Peak reflected in one of the many small tarns.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
A variety of rock colours.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
So green.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
A helicopter flies over Sleepy Hollow as I made my way up to the summit. I guess you know you are somewhere good when helicopters and light planes are flying over every 20 minutes. Disrupted the serenity though. Get out and walk like me you lazy Fokkers! (Airplane joke there).
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Another helicopter shot, with a wider angle on the scenery. I was still on my way up here.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Various unnamed peaks south of Mt Bonpland. The main peak is at the back, perhaps obscured by cloud still.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
One of my most epic shots. Views from the summit of Bold Peak (2118m), including Sleepy Hollow and Mt Bonpland (2343m). If you’re on your phone this shot will look a lot better in landscape orientation, full frame.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Mt Bonpland from the summit.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
The Rees and Dart Rivers, and Mt Alfred centre.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Looking down Lake Wakatipu.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
A panorama looking down Lake Wakatipu.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
A wider angle panorama fitting in the tarn shelf (far right) that was my route between the mountain and the challenging gully. I took an even wider pano but that flattened the topography a bit. That will never do.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Sleepy Hollow close up. For those who like a where’s Wally exercise there’s a helicopter in this shot.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
On my way back down. I returned back along that tarn shelf. Mt Earnslaw on the left, still somewhat obscured by cloud. I left the summit at about 4pm, and was back at the car by 9, just on sunset.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Another reflection shot of Bold Peak.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Glenorchy and the meeting of the Rees/Dart and Lake Wakatipu. Mt Larkins at the back.
Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
On my way back down that scree gully. I couldn’t see these cliffs on the way up due to cloud, and alas they were very much in shadow on the way down, but I thought I’d record them here to show their size.


Route Notes

Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
An easy start on the pleasant Glacier Burn Track, then follow cairns upstream turning south to begin the climb in earnest. The gully is unpleasant but it has to be done. Climb up onto the tarn shelf and head up to the notch in the ridge next to 1973m. On the other side climb a chute, then find your way to the summit, going up just a little to the west/climber’s right.

The route starts on the easygoing Glacier Burn Track, crossing the Glacier Burn (stream) at the start, then entering ferny beech forest. The track ends at the tree line, although there are cairns for a while. Navigation is simple enough however – keep going upstream until you see the start of a gully. You’ll need to cross back over the burn to enter the gully.

The scenery in this area is already spectacular, although there was low cloud so I saw almost nothing for almost two hours. Which is how long it took me to get up this very steep 900m section on unforgiving terrain. It took me 1.5 hours to get down it. (I can imagine this section would be a lot easier with snow cover).

When you finally reach the top there is a very short section of minor exposure as you sidle onto the beginning of a rocky shelf. As this flattens out you’ll pass by a number of tarns, with steep rocky slopes/ cliffs to your right, and Bold Peak straight ahead.

Climb up to the obvious notch in the ridge next to point 1973m, crossing to the south-western side. From there head across more rocky terrain and climb up a chute (see the picture below). This looks steep but is easy enough on not too crumbly rock. Cross back over to the east side of the mountain, and keep climbing.

Final Climb to the Summit

The route to the summit is not obvious, and for a while I thought my blog post would be titled ‘Bold Peak Attempt’. To start with, don’t go to the left / east of the summit, as you’ll just end up below a wall of rock. Instead go to the right / west. Following roughly the green route in my picture below will get you to the summit with barely any scrambling, nor much exposure. 

Bold Peak from Glacier Burn Track, Humboldt Mountains
Top picture: Photo taken at the notch in the ridge. Climb the chute.
Bottom picture: It took me a few goes to find a route to the summit. That route on the far right might have been okay, but the far left definitely wasn’t. The green route (approximate) ended up being fairly straightforward.

About 1900m change in elevation on sometimes challenging terrain. It took me 11 hours of walking with some time wasted trying to find my way up to the summit (maybe 30 minutes?). Add to that lunch and photos etc. I was out 13 hours in total (I took a lot of photos).

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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