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Trip Report: An Ascent of Mount Lyttle

Gemma Wilson abseiling off the south face of Mount Lyttle, Darran Mts.  Mount Christina is in the background and Lake Marian below.  (photo: Danilo Hegg)

On the last weekend in September Gemma Wilson and I set off to climb Mount Lyttle, right above Lake Marian in the Darran Mountains. On the topomaps the name is next to an insignificant elevation on a ridge at 1899m. Assuming that this is a mistake, we headed for the high peak at 2060m, a few hundred meters to the north-west.

Starting from the Lake Marian Track, we climbed through the bush and made quick progress up the route scouted by Max Olsen a few years back. At 12:30 and 100m below the bushline, the quote of the day from Gemma: “lunch at bushline?”, followed by my reply, “sounds good”. We made it to bushline just in time for dinner, seven hours and innumerable expletives later. We were not able to find the gap through the bluffs and resorted to pitching. Gemma was a hero as she led the way up, and undeterred by a lead fall, she repeated the climb twice more, carrying my pack first then hers. Gemma, you are both an amazing climber and climbing companion.

Bed-time came later than planned and the alarm was set at 2:30am.  Problem: daylight savings came into action at 2am, when watches were adjusted forward to 3am.  I will leave it to Schrödinger to debate whether, having set the alarms at a time that does not exist, we actually ever got out of bed or not. My aching body told me that we did, and that it was way too early, too.

We were rewarded with perfect cramponing conditions however and made good time up the mountain. A rock band at the bottom of the south face required the use of the rope, and an abseil off a snow bollard on the way down; the climbing was straightforward up moderate snow slopes otherwise. The view from the summit was terrific, with the big walls of Marian and Sabre nearby heavily plastered in winter snow.

The snow remained frozen all the way down, and three abseils off trees made the descent through the bluffs faster than the way up.A l(i)(y)ttle peak that is seldom visited, and that is typical of Fiordland in that the approach through the bush is much harder than anything in the alpine.

Danilo Hegg

Posted: 10/11/15

Posted By: Narina Sutherland