Altitude: 198m to 1633m. Gain: 5213m. Loss: 5417m . Gradient: 9 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7) - Occasional rivers (3/6)
The first, northenmost Fiordland section of madpom's 'Grand Traverse' from East Cape to West cape.
This route starts with three steep challenging passes through the Earl Mountains, leading to the start of Fiordland proper in the Clinton, The Earls, while steep and demanding are much like the Humboldt Mountains that came before in their nature: dry, rocky. Good flat valley floors with campspots and rock wrens aplenty.
West of the Clinton the nature of the country changes. Vegetation becomes lush, undergrowth thick and any flat section of valley floor boggy. Finding good spots to camp is a real challenge - often only one or two suitable spots for a tent are passed in a day's travel.
After a brief stroll along the Milford Track, we dive off into the midst of it all: bashing through marshland and winding deep creeks to the western Clinton valleyside and from there climbing steep deer trails through thick undergrowth onto the Indecision tops. The indecision provides a hanging valley within a hanging valley - challenging navigation to drop from high tussock basins past tall bluffs and waterfalls to the flat valley floor below.
A tough windfall bash along the shore of Lake Te Anau takes us into the first of the great valleys of Wapiti country: the Worsley. We traverse the full length of the valley, from broad flats on the lakeshore to steep scrubby marshy scrambles up the southern valley head. The wonderful Worsley Biv in the head of the Wild Natives is our reward, together with views down Bligh Sound from the pass above it. Seemingly impassable passes connect the heads of the Wild Natives, but deer trails show the way. Finally, we descend the mighty Glaisnock from the head of the Taheke all the way back to the shores of Lake Te Anau and the sheltered North Fiord.