The Princess, a Brass Monkey, and The Apprentice

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    Tony Gazley

    If you belong to a tramping and mountaineering club of some sort then maybe every now and then you think about actually climbing to the summit of a mountain. But one immediate problem for you is which summit do you choose from the thousands of named (and a gazillion of unnamed) peaks in NZ?

    Some peaks look attractive, such as graceful Aspiring; some have unusual features, think Ngāuruhoe; some are spectacular viewpoints, like Earnslaw; while others have cool names, such as Mephistopheles and The Apprentice. But there are plenty that share all of the above to some degree. One of those goes by the name of Mt Princess.

    Mt Princess from near the St James MTB carpark

    Princess does not hide herself away—you can see her from the St James MTB carpark even though she is not particularly tall. And she does have a softly elegant appearance especially with some snow cover. She even has her own royal bath high on her southern side. And because she stands away from all the Southern Alps mountains there is a wonderful all-round viewpoint. And certainly her name is alluring. So when you decide that Princess is the one to be with here is one way to go about it.

    Start from Maling Pass either by first walking the 6 km up the road from the MTB carpark, or driving your 4WD if you are prepared to take the risk of having it stuck when someone locks the gate to the road. A broad easy ridge takes you to Point 1906 from where you have two choices—continue along the narrowing and chossy ridge, or sidle gently down to the level of the tarn and then climb the snow slope (or scree later in summer) back to the ridge. Above here there is some easy scrambling to the summit. The second route is the more pleasant even if it adds a bit to the climbing.

    Mt Princess and the partly frozen Princess Bath

    Partly frozen Princess Bath

    On the summit of Mt Princess

    View from the summit of Mt Princess. Waiau Valley below.

    From the top of Princess there is a grand view of mountains and valleys extending from Nelson Lakes to the north, the nearby Spencer Range peaks of Una and Faerie Queene, then south to Mephistoples mostly hidden far away among a jumble of other peaks.  

    Take some time to enjoy your day so far, and then think about which way you will take to get down. You have a number of choices. Either by the ascent route, or directly down the valley (bluffs immediately below the tarn may prove tricky) or by climbing from the tarn to the eastern ridge and descending that to join the road above the carpark.

    As a day outing from the MTB carpark it’s a round trip of about 10 hours.


    Tony Gazley
    7 November 2022.

    PS. Well, what about The Apprentice and the Brass Monkey? Try the WTMC Forum.

    #61204 Reply
    Kendall Mintcake

    What a cool place – nice story.


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