A good broad cut track leads from Julia Hut up the east branch towards Harman Pass. Crossing the bridge, leave it at the unmarked junction and follow a rough overgrown track dropping down the far bank back to the forks. Fern and flax eagerly fill the lightwell created by the track. The roughly marked route drops to the main river flats, swings up the western branch of theTaipo towards Pope Pass, ending a few hundred meters later at the creek - it’s terminus marked by a small lichen-covered cairn.
Head upriver rock hopping, climbing steadily. Look out for the start of a track on the true right before the next bouldery falls. It was overgrown (2017) - waist deep in fern and flax, marked occasionally with sun-bleached tape. You soon are back in the riverbed again, above the falls, climbing. Low, tangled west-coast scrub has replaced the tall forest below.
The start of a third track is marked by a cairn - well cut and marked (2017) it climbs to the open boulderfield above. Half an hour of hopping and scrambling over the old, lichened boulders takes you a kilometer or so further upriver to where field ends at a wall of scrub. Scrub-bash back to the riverbed - very hard going so scout for a good route.
The creek above here is likely to be dry - so easy travel. Tussock-fields bracket the river, but hide an uneven boulderfield beneath - so the dry riverbed seems the easiest route. It seems like a long 2.5km up the valley flats to the forks below Pope Pass. The tussock flats finally cede to fans of loose scree, but that proves as slow travel as the rocky tussock the preceded it.
A sheer rock bluff dominates the western fork of the valley leading to Popes Pass, the creek cutting down it’s centre in a single, narrow fall. Climb the true left of the creek on good stable scree, cutting back to the creek above the falls. The great Taipo is now a mere scree gut climbing steeply to the pass: choked with rock, ice - old avalanche debris. The barren rocky saddle of Pope Pass is clearly visible at it’s head.
To the west scree faces descend from a snowfield below the peak of Mt Harman. The last of these scree guts - 150m or so before the pass, is the start of a high route over to Browning Pass.