Sunday at the Saddle

We have been blessed with provident weather since arriving here and the forecast looks favourable until thursday at this stage. The magic times for light and mood are usually the dawn and dusk and last night and this morning certainly didn’t disappoint. The last glimpse of sunlight that we usually see here is on the summit of Tititea to our west or if we are lucky on a clear day Aoraki & Tasman to the North East – much further away. Here is a glimpse of the ever changing light on Tititea at around 9.25pm last night.

Last Light on Mt Aspiring

Last Light on Aspiring yesterday.

The First Light on the Mountain is usually no less dramatic.

Sun Rising on Mt Aspiring today

First Light on Tititea this morning.

It has been difficult to choose a typical sunrise pic today so Ive uploaded two of them for you. The second was taken about five minutes later.

Aspiring Light

First Light on Aspiring a few moments later.

The view to the north at 90 degrees always captivates me and I often have difficulty deciding where I should be pointing the camera for the time lapse sequences that I have been creating.Typically the camera is usually dedicated to the specific scene and direction for at least an hour and changing ones mind can compromise the result.

Here is the ridge to the north earlier this morning.

Albert Burn Saddle

Ridge to the North of Albert Burn Saddle

I’m often asked the name of this range or the names of the peaks along it. The range doesn’t have an official name but the peaks do have official numbers. 1866, 1854, 1796, 1862, 1865 and right at the eastern end – the one on the right – 1920. (Perhaps we should call it the Orwell range?). These are the current heights above sea level in metres. With global warming accelerating these will need to be renamed soon.

Peak 1866

Peak 1866 (for now) above the Albert Burn Saddle.

The Keas are usually on the job well before sunrise and always keen to see what we are up to. Last night one of the youngsters chewed most of the cork handles from one of my Leki Poles before I had a chance to rescue it. On our last trip here, one of them (a very smart adult bird) managed to fly away with one of my precious sheepskin gloves.

Here is one of the juvenile birds standing by for some more mischievous action.

Junior Kea

Juvenile Kea at Albert Saddle this morning

Glacier Dome to the North West of the saddle is a prominent land mark and frequently collects cloud around it. This morning was no exception. I am confident that the time lapse video of this is going to look great.

Glacier Dome

Glacier Dome, Mt Aspiring National Park

Brook & his friend Rose from Taupo, who climbed Dragonfly Peak above the saddle yesterday afternoon, climbed peak 1866 after breakfast this morning before preparing to tramp out back to civilisation via Junction flat & the East Matukituki valley.
Here is group shot of us just prior to them leaving.

TRamping Party

Rose Battersby, Brook & Gilbert van Reenen with Mt Aspiring in background.

Their route takes them past this wonderful little tarn just above the saddle.

Tarn & Aspiring

Mt Aspiring from the Albert Burn Saddle

And their view to the north west for a time will include Mt Fastness & Glacier Dome shown here from above the Hester Pinney Creek.

Mt Fastness & Glacier Dome from abve the Hester Pinney Creek

Mt Fastness & Glacier Dome from abve the Hester Pinney Creek

More Musings from Robyn

Another brilliant morning with a kea wakeup call in time to see the first light on Aspiring. What a way to begin the day. I went a little way down the valley with Brook and Rose as they left and wandered back up watching the grasshoppers everywhere enjoying the warmth and hoping for some flowers on the cushion plants. And I was in luck with this find – we’ve spent the last hour trying to identify it, but I’m sure that will be easier with a better photo of the foliage. The contrast is fascinating – these tiny tightly whorled plants against the massive peaks and glaciers, the sharp limey greens against the stark black and white.
James has ensured that we are thoroughly well fed with a delicious chicken tagine last night followed by a decadent fresh apple cake with cream cheese frosting. We certainly need a good walk or two to justify our dinner

Cushion Plant in flower

Robyn’s pic of distinctive Cushion Plant in flower near the Albert Burn Saddle

We have just heard that Brook & Rose made it out safely after a very enjoyable 6 hour tramp

Click On Any of the Images for a Full Screen View

One thought on “Sunday at the Saddle

  1. Stunning pics Dad! Great to see a bit of contrast with the same photos from last time under less snow. Also most curious to know if we walked over the tarn near the saddle!

    I guess there’s plenty of access to the waterfall this time. Maybe can find some Umbilicaria?

    Keep up the great posts and pics xx

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