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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Hayden

Heather Jock and beyond

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

I really thought I was going to chill this weekend, between multi-day adventures and crazy work weeks I'm seriously falling behind on all life admin😅


I thought wrong🤷🏻‍♂️


Billy, the friend I made along The Gillespie Pass sent me a link to Mount Larkins Thursday and I was fizzing.

This Heffer is twenty three hundred metres high and heads a track I know all too well 😅


The Mount Judah track and I are well aquainted, I've branched off it heading to McIntosh Hut in spring but we first met last Winter when I was attempting a day-trip to Heather Jock Hut.


(At that time I was not prepared to spend the night. As daylight dwindled ,the snow that I had grown to love was becoming more of a hazard😅)


This time around I was ready.

We caught some rain on the drive to Glenorchy but the forecast said things would clear by mid-day.



Goats bleeted and clouds loomed ominously above us, we stopped for lunch at the first of many old miner's huts.


Below is Jean hut, just over an hour from the carpark.

Behind it you can see Mount McIntosh



From here you can approach Heather Jock one of two ways.

Either tiki tour past a couple of other old huts or zig zag up the hill directly behind,

seeing as I'd taken the scenic route last time we opted for the latter.


As we approached the halfway point of this hill the rain set in, we just wanted shelter🙃



We made it to Heather Jock at eleven o'clock, claimed our bunks and took cover from the weather for a couple of hours.


Here's a work of art, the collective effort of many a backpacker ⏬😂


 

Heather Jock is a charming little three bunk hut but we were eager to get back out there.

By the time the weather started clearing it was early afternoon and Larkins was said to be an eight hour return.

It was getting too late for that, but there was something we could do...


Mount Alaska sits just under two thousand metres and though it wasn't the goal, it's still quite an accomplishment.

Even if it is out of sight 😅


 

The weather was hanging in there as we sidled around Alaska, with the sun lighting up shades of grey above us.


 

Sometimes optimism isn't enough, as the incline increased so did the cloud.

Visibility was low and the high country was taxing as we began our steep ascent up the scree.


I thought of the men who once lived up here mining for scheelite, I wondered what scheelite is and why it was so valuable.




Now I've never been to Alaska so I'm not sure what it looks like, on a clear day it might be comparable to this mountain 🤷🏻‍♂️

Sadly that wasn't the day we had😅

I knew I was up high, and I knew the sun was trying it's best but the cloud was far too thick😂


We hung out up top for half an hour in hopes of a clearing that never came.

Still after Billy's close call with what could have been a fatal fall I couldn't help but think we had some luck on our side.

😬


After no signs of improvement it was time to head down, this time following the ridge on a more direct route.

A couple hundred metres downhill the clouds began to disperse as Lake Wakatipu said hello 👋



The further down we got the better things got, Alaska was just shy today🤷🏻‍♂️


 

The warmth of the sun was a real morale boost, the accomplishment of the summit and the view didn't come hand in hand but we got them both none the less.


We took our time on the way back to the hut, a breif bit of cell coverage allowed me to ask Google about scheelite.

Apparently it was in high demand during WWII for making war machines🤯


We arrived back at the hut greeted by a new flatmate, the three of us talked some shit and basked in the last of the sunlight.


 

We sipped hot drinks and played cards, the sky turned shades of pink and orange as the sun set.



I slept well that night, waking up soon after sunrise to sip on a sachet coffee while packing up.

I'd like to come back here one day and see how that artwork has progressed 👌🏿



On our way back from Alaska yesterday we hatched a plan to get to the top of Mt Judah itself on the way back to the car.

This meant tiki touring down past the other huts before shooting up a few hundred metres to a connecting ridge.



It was a crisp morning with few clouds in the sky, and a quick walk to Bonnie Jean Hut.


The following photos are taken from the same spot, just at different times of the year :


 

From Boozer Hut to the Mt Judah saddle was a total goat track.

There was no good way to do it but I'm glad we did.


This was possibly my best view of Mt Earnslaw to date, nearly three thousand metres high it stands out as the most prevalent peak in the area.


 

This really was the icing on the cake, we were finally able to see Mt Alaska.

Somewhere in the distance Mt Larkins is back there too.


Descending Mt Judah was a little sketchy, we made our own path down a sharp three hundred metres until we met an old 4wd track we followed back to the car.


We even stumbled upon a few mushrooms along the way, although now wasn't the time or place😅


The boys were hungry, the three of us jumped in the car and drove back to Queenstown for a feast at Devil Burger before going our seperate ways.


Until next time🙋🏻‍♂️

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