Mt Harper is the highest point of Harper Range situated between Ragitata River and Lake Clearwater, Lake Camp, and Lake Emma. There are many different ways to get up the summit and down. We made our start by the very picturesque Lake Camp.
Even if you are not going to attempt Mt Harper, Lake Camp is a really lovely spot to, well, camp by.
We started following a track that points to Lake Emma. After crossing Balmakaan Stream, we followed a four-wheel drive track that travels along the stream. Then instead of following the track all the way to Balmakaan Saddle, we picked a ridge and started tackling the steep slope.
Our north-face approach was free of snow, but very hot on this particular early spring day. The steep shingles were particularly testing, as we fell down half a step with every step we took. Also there are the thorny matagouri bushes to avoid. I think this particular one looked nice in the above picture, but when there is a patch of them, getting friendly is not a good idea.
Mt Harper summit provides unobscured view into the bigger mountain ranges of the Southern Alps towards the north west, as well as the Canterbury Plains to the south east.
We traversed the ridge a little bit then picked a ridge for descend. You can also travel further to Balmakaan Saddle (above picture) then back down to Balmakaan Valley. Kiwi Bird picked our route because it was his birthday 🙂
Travelling in the valley provides a different perspective back to pretty Lake Camp.
Here is the route we took. It was about a 7hr day for us. You can consider taking a different route. I have also read of starting from Lake Emma – just make sure you avoid having to travel through the grassy swamp. Backcountry navigation skill is required because apart from the rough 4-wheel drive track to Balkamaan saddle, there are no marked track. Look up Topomap for better terrain map.