A Perfect Hike–Mount Bealey

A few days ago, my husband, son and I went for a hike up Mount Bealey. This was my husband and my second trip up, but the first was a hastily planned late-autumn post-lockdown get-us-the-f@*k-out-of-the-shed hike, and we ran out of daylight to make it to the summit. This time, we had plenty of time to reach the peak.

The day was absolutely perfect, with early low cloud burning off before we reached the tree line, and just enough breeze at the top to cool off.

The climb up is fairly steep in places—the track more of a ladder than a trail. But that’s to be expected around Arthur’s Pass, and I prefer an interesting scramble over a steady upward slog anytime. The beech forest is lovely, with tantalising peeks down to the ever-receding village of Arthur’s Pass.

Breaking out above tree line makes the scramble worthwhile, with views of multiple 100-metre-tall waterfalls in the valley below, and the snow-covered peaks above.

We had lunch on the summit and spent a long time simply enjoying the 360-degree landscape of jagged peaks and vertiginous valleys. We had the summit (and in fact most of the track) to ourselves. Not even a kea came to visit us on the peak—no doubt they were hanging out with the hoards of people on top of the more popular Avalanche Peak. 

One of the best things about being on the summit was the chance to see other places we’ve hiked and put them all into a cohesive understanding of the landscape. There is satisfaction in that intimate knowledge of a place—to know the chill of the icy river below as well as having the bird’s-eye perspective of the river’s braided channel from the mountain above.

The trip took us a bit under seven hours, with the long lunch break on top, and we reached the car by 4pm. An ice cream at Arthur’s Pass was the perfect end to a perfect hike.

Panorama of the view to the west from the summit

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