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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Hayden

Don't tell me what to do (Mt Wakefield)

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

It's been a few weeks since I've been on an adventure, last weekend my brother flew down for the Gibbston Valley concert.

The long weekend before that the weather didn't want to play ball and before that I had a wedding to attend.

Needless to say I was itching to get out again.


As I scanned through Topo maps I noticed one thing in particular that stood out.

Mt Wakefield sits at 2058m above sea level and is located in the Mt Cook National Park, directly across the valley from Mt Ollivier which I attempted last July.

An old friend of mine had looked into it a while ago and after being told it was out of her league recommended I should also leave it alone😅

For that reason I've had it on my radar ever since, don't tell me what I can't do😂



I set out for Mackenzie country early yesterday, arriving at the trail head just before 9am.

Armed with a day pack and a newly aquired fanny pack dedicated to snacks and sunblock👌🏿😂



This sign was a little disheartening 🤦🏻‍♂️😅

I think it may have been referring to a different track that came to a hault early on.

The route up Wakefield clearly didn't see as much traffic as others in the area and though there was a bit of bashing through scrub, it wasn't hard to navigate up the steep bushline.


By the 1300m mark greenery was subsiding and I got my first real view of what was to come.



I must admit I was rather intimidated, my map had me riding the Ridgeline over most of what you see above.

I took my time over the exposed sections and found ways around certain parts to minimize risk.



By this point the sun was gruelling and I took cover wherever rock formations would allow shade, I had already been through a litre and a half of water.

In the distance I spotted two people approaching, they had left a few hours before me and mentioned some "technical climbing" towards the top.

Anxiety started to build😅


This is what I thought my day was building to, that peak on the right.

As I got higher I realized this was a false summit😂

I had been bamboozled, this was more like a halfway point🤦🏻‍♂️

I chose to cut across the rocks below this peak then make my way back to the ridge on the other side.



Once I'd made my way back to the ridge there was some semblance of a track along a narrow path that abruptly came to an end.

I took a minute to weigh up my options, either go back to climb what I was trying to avoid or climb the face directly above me😅

Either way I didn't like it but figured I'd make better time going up where I was.


Roughly two stories of near vertical rockface separated me from where I wanted to be, a lot of it loose.

It was tricky but I made my way up and back along the ridge.


By this time my podcast had finished and I'd decided I wanted some music, I put on Tash Sultana's MTV unplugged and hopped rocks.


There was one more technical section left for me, the ridge was narrowing with bigger separations between where I could stand.

Needless to say I was hesitant to jump at this height so I made my way down the far side to cut around the ugly section before making my way back.



As the cloud started to drift I caught glimpses of the mighty Mt Cook towering over everything 😮 I was in awe, feeling revitalized I pushed on up hill.



My cramping legs were relieved to find the ground leveling off, this made for easy walking as I approched the summit of Wakefield.

I stood just 50m below and took note of the valley separating us.

I found a little cave to take shelter from the sun and wind for some lunch,

This was the "technical climb" 😅



This section made me very uneasy, I had already been through a lot and the incline up there was very very steep with minimal footholds.

Not to mention I had to traverse down a hundred or so metres before I could begin it.


There were only 350m between me and the summit but I made the decision to call it a day.


My pride was hard to swallow but I wasn't confident doing that alone.

As much as I hate to admit it that old friend of mine might have been right🙄



I sat here for a while, somewhere between a responsible decision and disappointment before heading back.

I knew the trip to the car wasn't an easy one.

Eventually I accepted that I had nothing to be ashamed of and I was glad I stopped when I did.


I avoided most of the ugly sections heading down, stumbling across a nice little camp site on the way.



Oh and I took a picture of this flower 😂

It's nice right🤷🏻‍♂️



Yesterday I scared the shit out of myself, but I don't think I'd change anything about it.


It was a good day.

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