Really spectacular views from the summit of Mt Alaska (1965m), but there’s plenty of great scenery on the way up if you want a shorter walk. Highly recommended.
The views from the summit of Mt Alaska (1965m) are some of the best I’ve seen, and climbing this mountain isn’t as difficult as some other walks around Glenorchy. You don’t have to go all the way to the summit for excellent views, but if you have the time and energy I highly recommend it.
There’s a straightforward marked route as far as Heather Jock Hut via either Bonnie Jean Hut or Jean Hut, then an unmarked route up a ridge to the summit. There are excellent views from a flat area containing evidence of mining activity at about 1440m, so I suggest going that bit further past Heather Jock Hut. The climb to the summit from there is steep through areas of scree, but it was fairly safe in good weather, and felt satisfyingly adventurous for someone not so used to this sort of terrain (and I was by myself). Track notes at the end.
Mt Alaska ascent: The Scenery
Pics from winter, then some from my first ascent in summer.
On our way back down…
Views from the summit…
And a few from on our way down…
The Buckler Burn in the valley, and Humboldt Mountains on the other side of Lake Wakatipu.
The route to Heather Jock Hut is along a vehicle track at first, then old mining routes. You can go either via Jean Hut or Bonnie Jean Hut. I did a circuit for variety. Heather Jock Hut is the only one you can stay in – the others are preserved mining huts and worth a look inside.
From Heather Jock Hut you should back track a hundred metres or so (very rough estimate!) to another old mining track, and then climb up noting the cairns to a flat area with an old oil drum at about 1440m, where you there are excellent views over the whole area (just climb up on a nearby rocky knoll for the best spot). You could stop here and be pretty satisfied, but for peak bagging bragging rights and the best views of all you head steeply up a ridge to the summit of Mt Alaska, which is obvious in clear weather. There is somewhat loose scree and a few steep drop offs that made the ascent feel a bit adventurous, but in reality it was pretty safe, and descending felt a lot easier.
There’s a biggish car park and toilet at the start…