Memorial climbGottlieb Braun-Elwert, the well-known and respected climber and mountain guide who died of a heart attack while ski touring with former prime minister Helen Clark in 2008, justifiably deserved to have a mountain named after him. It came about in 2010. His wife Anne and daughters, Elke and Carla, had long wished to climb the peak which bears his name, situated in the Two Thumb range near Lake Tekapo. Braun-Elwert Peak (2086m) and Beuzenberg Peak (2070m) lie on opposite sides of Stag Saddle which, at 1925m, is the highest point of the Te Araroa Trail. Beuzenberg Peak was named after Erica Beuzenberg, another climber and guide who was tragically killed on Ball Pass in 2005. A small group of us, including Anne and Carla, climbed gradually up Snake Ridge, gaining increasingly wonderful views to the west of Mts Cook and Tasman as they rose imperiously above the rest of the Southern Alps. After about 2.5 hours, we descended a scree slope below Beuzenberg Peak before heading to Stag Saddle. Until this point, we had been on the Te Araroa Trail and the way is well-worn.
From here, it’s more serious stuff. We skirted around the lower slopes of Mt Hope and paused to contemplate the steep scree slope ahead of us, which leads to the main ridge of Braun-Elwert Peak. We briefly debated the best route and decided that a careful ascent of the scree, leading to a Y-shaped couloir, was the best option.
Carla led as we picked our way carefully up the slope, trying hard to avoid dislodging any rocks onto the person below. Steady progress was made and we were soon at the bottom of the Y.
Next is a couloir which leads to the main ridge and from there, it’s a quick scramble to the summit. After some words of celebration, it was lunch and a discussion over the best route down.
This turned out to be a long, gradual descent along a ridge to the south-east, which would neatly complete a round trip. Care was necessary on the steep slopes but when flatter and wider terrain was reached, travel was easier and faster. Eventually Camp Stream is crossed and, for us, a warm welcome and hot cuppa at Camp Stream Hut.
A big day and a very satisfying one – memories of which will be long held dear.
– Murray Gardner
- Total Ascent
- Camp Stream Hut to Braun-Elwert Peak via Snake Ridge, 4hr; To Camp Stream Hut via Braun-Elwert Ridge, 4hr
- Camp Stream Hut (free, six bunks)
- Lilybank Road from Lake Tekapo