Overlooked in favour of taller peaks with official names, such as Mounts Buller and Engadine, Red Peak offers comparative scenery but a much easier ascent, no more than a steep hike from North Buller Pass.
Buller Pass trail provides a good approach although it ends well short of North Buller Pass. An hour's hike brought me to the fork: right for South Buller Pass, left for North Buller Pass and Red Peak. After emerging from the forest, the trail became intermittent as it intertwined with Buller Creek. It completely disappeared after it reached a broad valley. By that time, however, I had North Buller Pass in my sights. It looked like an easy ascent albeit steep. I climbed a strip of vegetation as high as I could before traversing the scree to the pass. Actually, it's charitable to call it “scree.” The loose rock over hard-pack ground slid easily, like gravel on a sidewalk.
I ended up well above the pass, the first of two mistakes I made. I thought I could stay high and traverse under the intervening unnamed peak between the pass and Red Peak, but the cursed scree was too treacherous and the grade too steep, so I dropped down to the pass where I found faint sheep tracks. Because of the bend in the slope, I couldn't see the gully and I made the mistake of ascending instead of descending slightly. I realized I was on the wrong side of a steep drainage I had to cross, so I was committed to climbing up miserable scree to the ridge crest. Cross the gully high or cross it low, but don't try crossing it mid-slope. (If Red Peak is climbed early in the season, it might be best to gain the crest early like I did so as to bypass the insurmountable cornice on the west side of the ridge.) Here at last I could see the summit of Red Peak. It was a leisurely walk there.
After a short summit stay I proceeded back along the ridge, stopping before where the gully topped out. I hiked down the slope to a point where I could easily cross the gully (my GPX track reflects my easier descent route) and made my way back to North Buller Pass. I should point out that not only did I enjoy the scenery along the summit ridge, I also took delight in the scenery along the trail. As I dropped down the other side of the pass, I looked forward to seeing again the picturesque waterfalls alongside the trail.
The second bridge is now 100 m downstream
A new bridge is already in place
The trail passes through burned out areas
Waterfall and basin just before the fork (click for a larger image)
The fork: left for North Buller Pass and right for South Buller Pass
The trail emerges from the forest and drops down to the creek
The trail goes left and climbs above the canyon ahead. Note the cairn bottom left.
Heading to North Buller Pass
I'll ascend the slope directly above me and traverse to the col
Looking back after I started climbing. Mount Engadine and Mount Buller rise above Buller Creek.
Looking down the other side of the pass (click for a larger image).
Heading to the summit ridge. Note the snow cornice on the ridge.
Bypassing the cornice (mouse over for a closer look)
On the ridge heading to the summit
Looking back along the ridge
Obligatory summit pose
The descent route: I crossed the gully at the bottom and made my way back to the pass
Looking back at North Buller Pass and the largest waterfall on the route (click for a larger image)
82 J/14 Spray Lakes Reservoir
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