Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ

A remote feeling tramp to the summit of Mt Clara (1945m) in the St James Conservation Area, with spectacular views, especially in winter.

Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area

Although I’d read about the walk to Mt Clara (1945m) before, I decided to do it when the knowledgeable owner of Hanmer Backpackers (Tristan) recommended it to us. In winter conditions it turned out to be one of the better walks we’ve done. The conditions on the tops in winter were proper alpine, and the views north and east in particular were quite spectacular. And you get those views for much of the walk. It’s a long and remote enough tramp to be a bit adventurous, but short enough to fit comfortably into a long winter’s day.

It’s quite an exposed area so check the weather before setting out. Track notes at the end.

Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass: The Scenery

Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
On the drive in.
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
Early on in the walk. That’s Oatley Stream emerging from the valley and Mt St George to the left.
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
The Fowlers Pass Track continues on down this valley.
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
Hard work getting up this scree slope.
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
The view north from Mt Pickett.
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
Sophia on the summit of Mt Pickett (1776m).
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
The section from Mt Pickett to Mt Clara was mostly straightforward but some rocks and deepish or icy snow higher up slowed us down. It was easier coming back when we had learned to just go straight over the rocks.
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
Muddy Stream and peaks to the east.
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
Sophia looking cool somewhere between Mt Pickett and Mt Clara.
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
One of the more epic images I’ve taken. Looking north from Mt Clara, although not at the summit yet.

Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area

Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
Approaching the summit of Mt Clara.
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
Lake Guyon
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
The view east from the summit of Mt Clara (1945m).

On our way back…

Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
A vegetable sheep.

Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area

Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
Stanley River
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
Sophia backed by Smyths Stream Valley.
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
Nice lighting on our way back as the sun came out properly for the first time since early morning.
Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
The Fowlers Pass Track runs down Pass Stream Valley to the right.


Track Notes

Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation AreaMt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area
Easy walking on a track to Fowlers Pass, then off track to the south-west. The climb to Mt Pickett is up a long scree slope and was fairly slow going. From Mt Pickett it’s a steady climb along a ridge to Mt Clara, entirely through snow for us in mid winter.

It’s an easy walk on the Fowlers Pass Track to Fowlers Pass itself, then off track to the south-west. The climb to Mt Pickett is up a long scree slope and was fairly slow going. From Mt Pickett it’s a steady climb along a ridge to Mt Clara, entirely through snow for us in mid winter. We found going around rocks on sometimes steep slopes in deep snow to be difficult, and on the way back we walked straight over the top of the rocks. Walking back is quite a bit easier than going up due to the scree. It may take about 7-8 hours return, and involves a little over 1000m ascent and descent.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

2 thoughts on “Mt Clara via Fowlers Pass, St James Conservation Area, Canterbury NZ”

  1. Beautiful scenery Ed. We are in Lockdown over here so am very jealous of your and Sophia’s hiking adventures.

    1. Ah hi Fiona. Yes, being in NZ at this time in history certainly has its advantages! Thanks for stopping by the blog. Hopefully you can hike vicariously through me 😀

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