ElevationAscent: 2,121' 646 m
Descent: -2,121' -646 m
High: 4,681' 1,427 m
Low: 2,571' 784 m
GradeAvg Grade: 15% (8°)
Max Grade: 52% (27°)
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“An adventurous run to an awe-inspiring lookout in the Darran Mountains above Milford Sound.”— Almonzo Wilder
Once the route hits the valley's headwall, the gentle walking stops abruptly and the grade steepens dramatically. The ascent begins along a creek, where waterfalls provide a distraction from the uphill work. Higher up, the route, which is generally well-marked with cairns, crosses open rock slabs with increasingly expansive views. Fixed cables provide assistance with one of the steepest sections that climbs alongside a waterfall at the outlet of beautiful Black Lake. More slabs and talus eventually lead to alpine meadows near the ridgeline at Gertrude Saddle. Views from the saddle are nothing short of incredible, taking in the fiord of Milford Sound and peaks and glaciers of the Darran Mountains. Comfortable rocks and meadows abound where you can soak in some of the world's finest scenery.
With extra time and energy it is well worth exploring above Gertrude Saddle. To the north, the views from the ridgeline leading to Barrier Knob are outstanding. To the south, it is possible to wander for hours among alpine tarns and meadows. Once you've had your fill, retrace your steps down to return to the carpark.
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Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes, History & Background