“That looks like a corker of a mountain; I shall run up it”.

These were not the inane mutterings of a maniac, but my own thoughts as I looked at Mt. Robert from our bach in St. Arnaud,by Lake Roitoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park.

In the UK, I was an avid fell runner (more for pleasure, than doing anything competitive), and I was desperate to blow off the cobwebs and run up a hill, mountain, or something inbetween. When looking at Mt. Robert from our bach, I had clearly underestimated the height of this mountain. I had a map, I knew it was over 3,000 metres but I was clearly not cognisant of the fact that this was a MASSIVE mountain when compared the Lake District Fells I used to bumble along.

THE PLAN: a quick shimmy up Mt. Robert in ther afternoon as part of a recce to see if Mrs. E could do the climb the following day.

I’d love to tell you that there was some great drama and that it took me ages to get to the top, but there wasn’t… the ascent was steep, but there was a kind zig-zagging path which reduced the impact of the steep ascent. I surprised myself, and had a lovely walk/run to the top. The first section of the ascent was through bush (think large beech trees), followed by open exposed parts where the hot sun bore down on me, followed by a second section of bush, and then a short burst to the top of Mt. Robert. The views from the top were breathtaking (see below), and I was absolutely buzzing by the time I got there. Mt. (Mr.) Robert and I shook hands, and I thanked him for his grand vistas, and stunning views. If you look south from Mt. Robert, you see mountain range and mountain range, after mountain range… (later, it clicked – I was looking south down the Southern Alps, which are the backbone of the South Island). Indeed, if you look at any satellite map of New Zealand, the Southern Alps are covered in snow, and really do look like a skeletal backbone. Anyhow, MT. (Mr.) Robert, seemed like a jolly nice chap, but the conversation dried up, and I bounded back down the hill. OK, that’s not true – my ham strings were absolutely wasted after the first 15 minutes of descent, and it was tough going. There was one joyous moment though… any fell runner or mountain runner doesn’t run up (or down) mountains to show off. They do it for the love of running in the clouds, being one step closer to heaven. HOWEVER, as I ran back down I did pass a very unfit tourist, who I heard sigh as I gleefully ran past him. I chuckled (from within, you understand), and then ran back to the car and bach to the batch.

The plan was to see if it was OK for Mrs. E to walk up Mt. Robert the next day. However,Mrs. E really wanted to do the climb. So, the next day we ventured out and did the following route. Immediately, I knew this was going to be a struggle for me. My hamstrings were shot after running up the mountain the previous day. However, we did it! The ascent was tough, but the descent was even worse for me with my shot hamstrings, but the views (again) were well worth it).

So Mr. (Mt.) Robert and I are now fairly well aquainted. In fact, we’re hoping to meet up again soon…

Thank you Mr. (Mt.) Robert, you’re a true gent and were very kind to us both.

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