droNZ #11 - Hiking to The Gap (Castle Hill peak)

Feb 18, 2017

When I started this droNZ series I had in mind to write a short blog post with each episode I filmed. But then I realized that editing the videos was already quite time consuming and I just abandoned the idea... Until today, or more exactly until I went on this tramping adventure with some friends over to the Gap last week-end. It was such an amazing spot both by the beauty and the surroudings but also by the challenge it was to reach it that I thought "I have to write a little something about it".

My friends and I hiking the Gap

The Gap is located passed the Castle Hill Peak. The track starts at the Porters' pass on the way to the Castle Hill rock formation. We got there in the morning around 9:30 am. The track goes up right from the start towards Foggy peak. It was not an easy task because my backpack was heavy; we planned to staty overnight so I packed tent, sleeping bag, camping stove, enough water for 2 days, and of course, my camera and my drone. But I can't complain because the purpose of this little adventure was for my friends to do some highline at The Gap, so they had to carry all the highline gears and their backpack must have been way heavier than mine. After Foggy peak and a quick lunch break, I slowly made my way towards the Castle Hill Peak. From up there you get some really nice views of the Castle Hill rock formation which looks so small. The track up to Castle Hill peak can be pretty steep at times but it is wide and very exposed to the wind, which we would enjoy on the way back the next day.

Some of the views you get while hiking up to Castle Hill peak

the Castle Hill rock formation looks tiny from up there

The last portion of the hike has a lunar sort of look

Now, passed Castle Hill peak, that's when the fun begins. You first ascent to the 1941 peak, before you have to walk along the ridge for quite a while and on very uneven terrain and rocks before reaching the Gap. On either side of the ridge are very steep slopes but if you're careful where you step (rocks are pretty loose), you'll be just fine. I finally joined my friends at the Gap after a solid 5 hours of hiking (With a lighter backpack it is possible to do it in about 4 hours) and was happy to see that it was definitely worth the effort.

The Gap from my drone

Another aerial view of the valley
 Unfortunately the wind picked up pretty quickly after I got there and I only had the chance to fly my drone once but now that I looked at the footage, the view is just amazing! My friends went on the line a few times - There was no way I got on that thing at that altitude! - and we then made our way down a steep scree in order to find a good spot to camp. And indeed we did. Surrounded by tall grass that blocked the wind allowing us to cook our dinner we found a great spot with a majestic view of the valley.
No need to say that we were all pretty tired and went to bed early. The night went well although the wind guts were quite strong and my tent was shaken pretty much all night.

Hiking down a scree to find somewhere to camp

Our amazing camp spot
Taking some time to enjoy the view
The following day, after a nice breakfast we hiked back up that rock scree - which was way less fun that sliding down - and once we got back to the top of th Gap, we got greeted by a very strong wid (80-90 km/h according to the forecast that we later checked). No highline and no drone flying for today! All we did was packing the line and started to head back. Walking on the ridge with that kind of wind was very challenging. I remember walking with my heavy backpack on a steep slope and having to push against the wind so it wouldn't push me upwards towards the edge of the ridge. It was the strongest wind I have ever experienced. Once we made it on the other side of mount 1941, the rest of the hike to Castle Hill and Foggy peak was still very windy but less hard to walk. 

Hiking in the strong wind on the way back

Another aerial shot just for fun

The whole group during our last stop on the way back

I was very happy when I got back to my car but also very happy to have had that great experience and I loved filming all this with my camera and my drone.

You can watch this droNZ episode here :

Have you ever been to the Gap before?

1 comment

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