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August 2013 Issue
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Cinematic cirque  

A tramper stands on an iceberg in Crucible Lake, Mt Aspiring National Park. Photo: Ray Salisbury
6-7hr from Siberia Hut
From the new Siberia Hut on the Gillespie Pass circuit. Siberia Valley is visited often by day-walkers who fly in, walk down to the Wilkin River, and jet boat out to Makarora

Crucible Lake, Mt Aspiring National Park

Cluttered full of icebergs, the perfect chalice of Crucible Lake conjures up a sudden hailstorm which chills us to the bone. Above, the brazen, blackened ramparts of Mt Alba preside over this monochrome masterpiece of symmetry. A single silver thread of falling water winds through the middle, inside a narrow gut, draining the Axius Glacier. It feels like being in an Imax cinema, with jagged summits of sheer schist stabbing into the sky in a 270-degree cirque; a natural amphitheatre of black rock, white ice, and brochure-blue melt water.

It’s not a place to linger if the weather is anything but benign.  But on a blue-sky day, this is a pristine piece of wilderness, worthy of a lunch stop and some serious photography. Crucible Lake is often the highlight of the popular four-day Gillespie Pass tramp.

Amongst the nooks and crevices you may find the elusive rock wren, New Zealand’s only truly alpine bird. On your journey. you will walk through a meadow of yellow and red flowers, springing up among the fallen debris from a hundred rock falls.

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