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(Browning Biv: Photo DOC 2016)
Browning Biv and its access track are fully maintained by DOC,
and were in good condition at last report.
Styx catchment. Map BV19. Grid Ref:
E1459130/ N5248163. Altitude
1100m. Browning Biv is located on a ridge in the
alpine scrub zone on the Browning Range. It has great views out over
the Styx valley to the Newton Range and is most commonly used as a stopover on the Lathrop Saddle - Zit Saddle
circuit. This is a reasonably popular tramp of medium difficulty.
Browning Biv was maintained and kept
in a homely fashion from 1986 to 2004 by Mark Crompton of Hokitika. This coincided with a period in which
particularly active maintenance-wise.
Mark made numerous visits to the Biv while doing a snow retention study and made sure it
stayed weatherproof and well provisioned. He made a compilation of old hutbook entries from the 1970's onward and left a copy
at the Biv.
The start of the Browning Biv track
signposted at the bottom end of Grassy Flat in the upper Styx valley. The track was cut in 2012 and checked again in 2013.
It crosses an open marshy area with scattered scrub initially, then veers uphill through
hardwood forest on the TL fan of an unnamed creek.
It drops into the creek further up and this is followed to the 817m mark, where a second section of
track exits on the TL.
This leads up a steepish face through
montane and alpine forest onto the small bench in the alpine scrub zone just below the ridgetop, where the Biv is located.
Allow 1.5-2 hours from Grassy Flat to the Biv, or 5-6 hours from the Styx roadend.
knoll on the ridge 10 minutes walk above the Biv provides helicopter access.
Browning Biv was was built in 1961 and was one of the first of the NZFS B55 designs. It
has a corrugated iron roof, a single louvre window at the back end, and two narrow sleeping
platforms. There are two mattresses, and some sleeping mats and pillows. There is no toilet.
Water is provided by a small roof-fed tank that was installed by Mark Crompton.
Browning Biv was repiled, painted and re-sealed, and had some of its framing replaced
by DOC in 2004. In 2016 there was another major lot of maintenance done.
The roof and end walls were removed, reframed, papered, re clad and sealed. Some flooring was replaced.
The bunks were replaced and the bunk area lined. The ridging, window, and door and window flashings were replaced. Door
stoppers and a door threshold were added. The vegetation around the Biv was cut back. It missed out on a paint
job due to a hard helicopter drop which crushed the paint tins.
The route to Lathrop Saddle and Top Crawford Hut follows the ridge
above the Biv. There is a cut track through the alpine scrub to the tussock, then snow poles.
The ridge eventually narrows and peters out and the poles lead up a steep tussock face to the Saddle.
Lathrop Saddle is a spectacular U-shaped corridor with beautiful amethyst
tarns and a huge,
shattered boulders. At the end of the corridor the
route the poles veer SE
and sidle across
some steepish screes to avoid a band of bluffs directly below the Saddle. The sidle is South-facing
and usually snow covered until late spring. Conditions can be icy and
ice axes need to be carried during the colder months.
Around E1458920/ N5245773 the
poles veer downhill and follow a broad spur towards the basin. The spur bluffs out lower down
and the route drops over and down a tussock face into the side-creek catchment on the TR of the spur.
Poles lead down the slopes parallel to the creek to the basin. Top
Crawford Hut is on the TL of the TL fork of the upper Crawford and is clearly visible
on the rway down in fine weather. The travel time from Browning Biv to
Top Crawford Hut is around 3-4 hours in good conditions.
Mt. Lathrop is an easy climb from Lathrop Saddle, and the Browning
Range is relatively straightforward all the way down to Tyndalls Knob. It would be possible to
get from Browning Biv to Crawford Junction Hut in a long
day using an old tops track down Whitehorn Spur to get down to the Junction.
Whitehorn Spur Biv
marked on some of the older maps was
removed in 2006. The track down the Spur is very overgrown and peters
out completely on the lower faces. A swingbridge across the Crawford at the bottom end of the track
was removed in 2012, however it is usually easy to ford here at normal flows.
There is high-level route to Mid Styx Hut from Lathrop Saddle,
although it's much quicker just to drop from the Biv down to the Styx valley and go downvalley to the Hut.
Sidle from the Saddle at around the 1700m contour into
the tussock basin at the head of the
big unnamed side creek that flows down to the mid Styx. An old NZFS tops track goes down a ridge from the TL lip
of the basin
to Mid Styx Hut, and was retrimmed and marked by Permolat volunteers in 2014. The top section
through the alpine scrub is marked with orange electric fence gate flags. Allow 5-6 hours for the traverse.
None currently, apart from the postponed paint job.
Aside from the statutory DOC hand brush
and shovel, and an NZFS vintage aluminium basin, all the gear and provisions in the
Biv were left there by Mark, and he's happy for folk to used it. There is a
a small library, binoculars, emergency food, a litre
of Samson red enamel, a litre of "gorse" acrylic paint, three paint brushes, 0.5 litres
of Solgaro primer, three tubes of liquid nails, a litre of oil (possibly chain oil), a small grubber,
hedgeclippers, a bowsaw, two flat files, a hammer, a wire brush, rat poison, a tube of
sealant, loppers, a knife, a scraper, bear tape, a Stanley knife, a screw driver,
a small hacksaw, pliers, numerous candles, a gas lamp, sandpaper,
a good supply of 2cm flathead nails, a few longer jolthead nails, a small screw clamp,
tacks, a chainsaw file, a slasher, and a first aid kit.