In October 2015 Shannon convinced me to climb a mountain, if you are a novice like me, then here is our guide on how to climb a mountain...
Looming over Queenstown there are many striking mountains, of course there are the Remarkables, a popular ski area, and then there is Ben Lomond standing tall at 1,748 metres (5,735 ft), which is most appealing as you can reach the summit without too much technical knowledge.
There are a few ways to start the climb, you can start, as we did at the Skyline Access Road/ Tiki Trail at the end of Brecon Street, which would be the most challenging part of our climb, we were scaling an alpine forest, winding our way up and along at an 450 metre (1,476 ft) altitude. Or join at the end of Thompson Street which joins the Ben Lomond Track or the easy option is to pay for a ride in the Skyline Gondola which will take you up the first 450 metres.
Out of the trees you get your first glimpse of how far you've come, then it's a gentle climb to the saddle at 1,300 metres (4,265 ft), this first part, depending on rest stops and fitness, will take around 3 hours.
After the saddle the ground gets rocky and the wind started picking up, we kept our heads down and took on the steep part of the climb, then finally after another 2 hours the summit is reached. And wowee the views were just remarkable... well indeed as we were now facing the stunning Remarkables mountain range as well as views down below to Queenstown and across Lake Wakatipu. The wind was still whipping around us but we stopped for a while to admire the landscape which was simply stunning.
We then began our descent and as we reached the saddle again, the winds died down and we took a more leisurely walk down, again choosing the forest walk instead of the gondola. The walk down was no where as tough as the way up. We passed by the occasional downhill mountain bike track along the way.
The round trip took us 8 hours and it was such an accomplishment to have climbed a mountain! The trek is labelled as easy, but we would say it moderate.
What to expect/ anticipate - The weather can change at any time- be prepared with clothing. Ensure you start the trek as early as possible, ensuring you have enough daylight hours.
What to wear - On a clear dry day I wore breathable athletic wear, waterproof trousers, trainers and carried a windproof zipper. Shannon wore t- shirt and shorts, training and waterproof jacket. If you have hiking boots wear them. Dress appropriately for the weather.
What to pack - We packed a rucksack with plenty of water and biscuits/snacks. And our go pro hero 4 black with selfie stick, and canon G7X compact camera.
When to go - You can hike to the summit all year round but the best time is from November to March, during the summer months. There will still be patches of snow at this time, in the cooler months it may be harder to scale as snow will be low lying and therefore more experience needed to attempt the summit. (We hiked in October).
Climbing the first section through pine trees...
At the start of the saddle...
Views from the summit...