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Sanctuary of stone

Image of the April 2014 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
April 2014 Issue

Adelaide Basin, Fiordland National Park

Lake Adelaide is one of those places where my mind drifts to on those days I’m stuck in the office, or where I picture myself breathing in the fresh mountain air when stress is starting to build up and I need a mental escape. It’s got a magnetic allure that tugs gently at my thoughts, willing me to return to admire its grandeur, to soak up its wildness, to revel in its isolation, and to recharge my soul.

Whether scrambling around the shoulder of Barrier Knob from Gertrude Saddle, or bashing up the steep and forbidding Moraine Creek through tangled thickets of Fiordland jungle, the feeling of reaching the lake is the same. I feel protected by the ramparts of granite that tower above on all sides, but vulnerable to the whims of the weather in this dramatic and remote setting. I feel energised by the journey in, by the myriad objectives to choose from, and by the sense of satisfaction at having snuck through such formidable defences to enter this sanctuary of stone.

Ensconced in Phils Rock Bivouac (marked Rock Bivouac on the topo), it’s easy to just let the hours while away, watching the clouds roll by. But even better to scale the impossibly precipitous walls of rock that surround this beautiful valley and look upon it from a commanding perch. To feel the immense pleasure of having scaled such an obstacle and then to return to the hideaway hotel beneath a rock. This image was taken looking across the valley from the flank of Sabre Peak, below the classic TV Route, towards the elephantine moraine – it looks like rocky ground from afar but as you get closer enormous boulders reveal themselves that can be walked through, over, under and around.

– Jason Blair