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May 2014 Issue
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Teetering on the edge

Trampers view the Victoria Glacier icefall from the northern slopes below O'Leary Pass
Two-three days to the glacier viewpoint
Dart Track begins at the end of the Glenorchy Paradise Rd
CA10, CB10

Victoria Glacier, Mt Aspiring National Park

Victoria Glacier icefall teeters spectacularly over the abyss before tumbling some 700m above a small lake at the head of Victor Creek.

William O’Leary was probably the first person to admire this view during one of his solitary prospecting trips around the 1920s. The glacier is fed by ice flowing from the equally impressive Marion Plateau.

There are some accessible and often-photographed icefalls in New Zealand but Victoria Glacier is not one of them. It would take most experienced backcountry trampers three days to get to this viewpoint. Day one up the well trodden Dart Track; day two across the river and up untracked bush followed by a high sidle across tussock; and a third day of steep scree, rock and snowfields to cross the main divide at O’Leary Pass, the lowest point on the Barrier Range north of the Dart River.

It’s the awesome beauty and immense scale that makes all of the very few people who come this way stop, stare and wonder for a while. The viewpoint where the figures are standing overlooks a 500m drop to the lake. And there is still almost a kilometre of open air between them and the icefall opposite.

– Hugh van Noorden