With summer here it was time to wander up to spend a night at the Sefton Bivi with Simon and Katie.
With summer here it was time to wander up to spend a night at the Sefton Bivi with Simon and Katie.
Mt Cook has been in great conditions this season with lots of snow in the last few week. We even got snow on the 1st day of this trip causing the Avalanche hazard to go up requiring a day for the new snow to settle out.
On the 1st fine day we flew into Plateau hut and went out for a short climb on Glacier Dome.
Great views up the Tasman Glacier from the summit of Glacier Dome, then back to the hut in prep of leaving at 1am for Mt Cook.
With the days getting shorter we got into the summit rocks before the sun came up.
We made good time even with the soft snow and got the summit at 9am as the winds started to pick up.
The winds held off enough to make a hot walk down the Linda Glacier and glad we had snow shoes for the walk across to the hut.
Conditions are quickly changing in the Linda and expect that not to many more ascents before the cravasses get to large.
Time to start looking for other routes/mountains to climb.
Great weather and amazing views made for a great few days up on the Annette Plateau. With the weather forecast looking OK we decided to head straight from Mt Cook village to just below Mt Annette to bivi for the night.
We spent some time on the way learning about navigation in the mountains plus cramponing, and other travel techniques to get up the Annette Plateau.
Arriving at the bivi spot we set up for the night and took advantage of the great views in all directions. We where lucky that most of the rock walls where already there and little work was required to get comfortable for the night. After dinner a quick ascent of Mt Annette was required to get the last of the light.
Next morning was more training with pitching and steeper climbing techniques covered.
With the weather forecast not looking so good we headed for Mueller hut with the plan of more learning in the morning and then decent to the Village. The weather did start to change with winds increasing but still no rain.
Made for a great start to the day and then descended as the wind really picked up. Now in Mt Cook village and have new snow on the hills overnight so a day of theory today and some rock climbing on Friday when the weather clears again.
With the recent mid summer “winter” conditions, new snow and crazy weather the mountains and glaciers are looking in fantastic condition for a likely great, late, climbing season.
With snowfall to low levels at regular intervals right through December and now in January, many of the usual crevasse hazards that can affect climbing access are less daunting than normal for this time of year.
If you’ve been holding off till the last moment booking for a special ascent or training course, now might be the time to make the most of it. Give Dave or Art a call or email us and we’ll help you tailor a trip just for you.
Skis, thats what we should have had this week! Had some snow this week up at Plateau hut with David while trying to climb Mt Cook. Started on day one with a quick flight into Plateau Hut before the weather changed in the afternoon. We got out on the ANZAC the 1st fine weather day and the hut started to full up with Jane and Nathan from AGL flying in to join us too.
Then it started snowing, with the freezing level low got about 1m of snow up high. When it cleared we had light and dry snow outside the hut. David as a keen skier asked where our ski are and can we get snow flown into the hut, would have made for some great skiing. Instead we started to prepare the route up Mt Cook, walking in the early morning up the Linda before the sun hut the slopes.
Due to the Avalanche hazard up high we didn’t attempt Cook the 1st day waiting for the new snow to settle.
Next morning with a 1am start we heading up with the other groups from the hut, thanks to the Italian group that broke trail on the upper mountain.
Good weather though a little cold on the actual summit with SW winds still blowing. Back to the Hut in good time, passing most of the other parties on the mountain up high, busy mountain with the 1st ascents for 2014. Jane, and Dave (AGL) had both their clients on the summit around the same time as us, though warmer just below the summit (no down jackets required) so no standing together for summit photos.
The last day of the trip we went for a quick 3hr climbing on Glacier Dome as David was keen on more mixed climbing having enjoyed the summit rocks so much.
Great trip and planing more climbing for next year, Pioneer for mixed climbing?
Another great trip on the Tasman Glacier, with a crew from Wellington. We had a busy week with long days and early starts to make the most of the weather this week. The early starts gave great light for photos and with the TMC doing similar things each day and posing as models out in the terrain showing the big vistas.
With the TMC around we often combined forces for learning, Sam took advantage of perfect self arrest conditions on the way to Hochstetter Dome.
While in the mountains, Will had his birthday, so the guys had to make a cake out of what we had, not the right number of candles but close?
We had perfect conditions on Alymer after a false start, got up at 6am but the snow started and then cleared again by mid day so we left when it cleared for an afternoon race up to the summit before it got dark (remember your head torch?).
Even with the early start and then late climb the guys had the motivation to build a snow cave after dinner finally getting into the cave after 10pm and knowing we had an early start to beat the incoming weather the next day. Some quick Ice climbing in the lower ice fall on the way to the helicopter flight out to Mt Cook Village finished our time in the mountains.
With the winds still not to strong in Mt Cook Village we took advantage of the last of the good weather and got some multipitch rock climbing in.
The last day we finally had a sleep in with rain falling on the roof and was spent catching up on the theory we had missed by being out in the field each day. A big week packing in as much as we could. The guys are already talking about Aspiring and Mt Cook as the next trips so expect to see them back soon.
The SW ridge is a classic snaking feature that leads directly to the summit of Mt Aspiring (3033m). The route follows the line between the West Face and the steep South Face and is clearly visible from areas around Wanaka. The crux of the route is just below the summit with a short stepp section of ice climbing or mixed climbing for about 25m before the final 120m of 50 degree ice to the summit ridge,. The difficulty of the crux pitch is determined by the conditions – when the gully is plastered in ice it can be quite steep but easy to protect whilst when in thinner conditions it is slightly less steep but harder to protect. Regardless of conditions, it is a very wild and airy place to be with a great deal of exposure under your feet – really exciting!
This particular trip was with Louise Yeaman – a visiting Australian clilmber who had come to climb Aspiring earlier in the year but had been thwarted by a 5 day storm.
We had cut that trip short as the weather was so bad and Louise was able to transfer her remaining days / time onto another trip. Louise had set her sights on aoraki – Mt cook this time however the weather was once again against her. After using 2 days of her trip time we once again postponed the trip to take advantage of what looked to be better weather that looked to be coming in in 3-4 days time ….
The forecast only got better as the next few days unrolled and we were getting geared up to fly into Bevan Col on the tail end of a southerly clearence. With a fair bit of new snow and heavy packs we decieded to camp on the bonar glacier rather than slog up to the normal bivvy spot directly under the SW ridge. Without our packs on it was easy work to put in a good boot pack up to the start of the climb at thebase of the ridge.
The promised good weather continued the next day with lite winds and clearing skies. The early morning sun turned the south face a deep redish pink as we approached the shrund at the bottom. At this time of year the shrund was easily negotiated and then we had the sweeping exanse of the SW ridge infront of us.
Normally, to guide the SW ridge its best to have less than bullet proff snow / ice. With softer snow it means that you can kick good steps for your client to follow you in, and with a short tight rope between you it’s possible to make good time up to the higher sections of the ridge line and or the final summit gully.
For this ascent we did have very hard icy conditions which meant that I wasn’t happy to have Louise climbing right behind me in the event of a slip or missed footing. There would have been very little chance of holding a fall. Instead I ran out 12 or so 60m pitches on perfect cramponing, daggering ice / snow all the way to the final gully. Louise was a champion, moving steadily and surely up each pitch, managing the rope and making sure it didn’t tangle as I ran it out.
I could often hear words to the effect of … WOW ! as we got higher and higher on the ridge.
As I approached the couloir I could see that it was clear of snow and heavily iced and rimed up with sastrugi coating just about everything. The good ice meant that I was going to get great pro and achors above without encountering any mixed climbing – it was a very fun and exposed section to climb. Again Louise managed the crux pitch really well, cleaning all the gear with no fuss. From here it was just a simple matter of the last 120m of 55 degree ice to the top and the summit ridge which suprised us by being very comfortable to walk along without any concerns.
There was not a breath of wind and the frozen bullet proof snow of the SW ridge gaveway to soft, each to walk in snow with great cramponing underneath. It was a great pleasure to not be front pointing anymore!
We spent about 15 – 20 mins takng in the views before starting our way down. The fastest and most straight forward route down is via “The Ramp” – a long snow slope that ramps both up but also out and down at about 30 – 45 degrees. It sits in the sun all afternoon and by now the snow would be pretty soft, may not take good anchors and could easily avalanche – instead we took the full NW ridge down to what is know as the Kangaroo Fields before getting back onto the glacier and slowly slogging our way back to the tent.
All we needed to do was drink loads of water and eat a little bit of food before falling asleep!
Awesome trip and a great job by Louise!
Early the next morning we had word of an inomig helicopter and opted for the backflight out. This flight out got a little sidetracked as all the local heli operators were being used to flight a large, accidently lite fire up in the East Matukituki Valley. we got dropped off amongst all the fire fighters as they were being ferried about but were eventually delivered to our waiting car.