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Freda du Faur- 100 years- ascent of Aoraki

2:54:04 PM
Calling all Australian female mountaineers, and men as well, to consider doing something to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first female ascent of Mt Cook which happened on Dec 3, 1910.

The NZAC has been throwing around ideas to celebrate this anniversary . This may result in climbing camps/ instruction/ ascents/ talks- culminating in a get together on Dec 3 in Mt Cook village.

For those who have never heard of her Freda grew up on Sydneys North Shore in the late 1800s where she probably bouldered and rock climbed before spending 4 summers in Mt Cook Village where she did a phenomenal range of ascents including the first Grand Traverse of Cook, Tasman, Dampier, Lendenfeld, Malte Brun etc while wearing skirts and hobnail boots. She is buried in MAnly (Sydney) and her grave was all but forgotten and unmarked until restored in 2006.

Given that Freda is Australian it would be nice if some Aussies could get motivated and participate. I'll post more if I hear of anything official, but just people going out with the aim of repeating her ascents over those 4 years would be great. It doesnt have to be Cook. Sealy, Balls Pass, Copland Pass, Sefton, Cadogan, Aigulle Rouge, Wakefield, Nuns Veil were all easier ascents she did in that time, plus others as outlined in the following link.

9:41:46 PM
consider repeating a few of her ascents in a skirt and no crampons =)

7:06:43 AM
Anyone read her biography? It's really really sad ... in ways that climbing biographies normally aren't, being a woman, climber and lesbian 100 years ago. I have a copy I'll loan out if anyone's in the area and promises to bring it home again.
10:26:35 AM
On 29/06/2010 Wendy wrote:
>Anyone read her biography? It's really really sad ... in ways that climbing
>biographies normally aren't, being a woman, climber and lesbian 100 years

Who suicided by putting her head in an oven. Very sad tale in a way.

A family friend did a doco on her that is good viewing.

3:07:30 PM
From the NZAC:

Freda du Faur Mountain Skills for Women Course

December 3rd, 2010 marks the centenary of Freda du Faur’s ascent of Aoraki/ Mt Cook- the first ever by a woman.

To celebrate the New Zealand Alpine Club is hosting a six day alpine instruction course for women at Aoraki Mt Cook.

The course is designed for women who have good basic mountaineering skills and a good level of fitness, and would like to move towards becoming self sufficient alpinists in glaciated mountain terrain.

The dates are: November 28th – December 3rd 2010.

The cost of the course will be NZ$950

•This will include six days instruction and a helicopter flight.
•The instructors will be qualified female NZMGA guides.

**There is also the capacity for women who took part in last year’s High Alpine Skills Course to use this course to further develop their skills.

If you want to know more go to: or email

Climbing women photos

As part of the upcoming centenary celebration of Freda du Faur’s historic climb of Aoraki Mt Cook, Carla Braun-Elwert is putting together a collection of images of women climbing. These will be displayed on a big screen at the celebrations at Mt Cook on December 4th.

If you would like to contribute an image/images towards this collection, please email:

Images need to be of mountaineering or rock climbing, and must feature women. Historic photos of women climbing will also be very welcome.

10:01:24 PM
Only 3 months to go:
Why are the Kiwis putting more effort into celebrating an Australian mountaineer than Aussies?
Note the following trips are for people that have some climbing independence

Via the NZAC
From: (janemorris74 at

Many of you have indicated an interest in doing 'something', and I have put together 3 options below that cater for varying levels. I will attempt to co-ordinate the climbing activities, and if you are planning something specifically related to the celebrations then it would be great to know details of roughly what/where/when.

These are just ideas/thoughts and am more than happy for someone to come forward (and offer to lead) something else.
At the end of the day its just about getting out there amongst it and remembering those pioneering woman.

If you do have something you definately want to make happen, or want to put your hand up to lead one of the groups below, please let me know.

Will be fantastic to have lots of ladies out and about in the Park over summer!


(3 different outings, 3 different levels of technicalities)

Du Faur Peak - Grade 1+ ~ 2; reasonably straight forward mountaineering; 2 days

Freda made the first ascent with Peter Graham, via the rock buttress on the E face, but the route of choice would be via the Main Divide (rock pretty rubbishy on that E aspect).
Ideally 4~6 people per 'option' would be most efficient.

Option 1: Walk to Sefton Bivy, ascend via Eugenie and the Main Divide; return the same way.

Option 2: Walk to Hooker Hut, (this awesome historical hut is still accessible if route is known - I'm happy to lead this trip), ascend ridge behind Hooker Hut to Fitzgerald Pass and then along Main Divide; could descend via the Eugenie to complete the loop or return the same way.

Option 3: Walk to Copland Shelter, traverse to Fitzgerald Pass and along Main Divide; descend via Eugenie to complete the loop (longest option).

Dates: Thurs 2nd & Fri 3rd; to be back in time for activities on Sat 4th Dec.

Nazomi - Grade 2; moderate; 2-3 days

Originally ascended and then named by Freda, meaning 'hearts desire'.
Walk into Gardiner Hut, then either climb from there or bivy on Noeline under Nazomi.
Noeline Couloir Route or Du Faur Ridge.
Need to have done some alpine climbing and be comfortable moving on a variety of terrain.

Dates: 26-28 November

Grand Traverse - Grade 4-; at times involving technical mountaineering; 3-4 days.

Via Nor West Couloir (original route Freda took with Peter Graham) to Low Peak and across the 2km summit ridge - superb!
Need to be competent alpine climber.

Itinerary eg -
day 1: walk up Hooker, ascend couloir and bivy below Low Peak;
day 2: traverse and down to Linda to Plateau Hut;
day 3 out via Cinerama Col to warm tussocks and cold beverages

Dates: in the week prior (or even any time over the summer season) but the woman out there who are keen will need to sort out the details around this, depending on their schedules.

Happy to provide beta on bivy sites, route details, times etc and current conditions come November.

7:52:10 PM
From the NZAC:

Just a reminder that tickets for the Freda Du Faur Centenary Celebrations are now for sale online and also available to purchase direct from the NZAC National Office (address below).

Two events are being held at Mt Cook Village on Saturday 4th December 2010 to commemorate Freda’s great achievements:

The first is an afternoon tea and forum with a great selection of guest speakers 2-5pm = tickets $20pp

Followed by an evening buffet dinner with special guest speaker, Lydia Bradey, at 6:45pm = tickets $60pp

Details on these two events and links to ticket sales, can be accessed here:

Tickets are limited due to venue size, so be in quick!

9:31:05 AM
Climb Du Faur Peak to Celebrate Freda!

Jane Morris, who works for DOC at Mt Cook, has agreed to lead a posse of women on a climb of Du Faur Peak (grade 1+/2) as part of the Freda Du Faur Centenary Celebrations.

Freda made the first ascent of Du Faur Peak in 1912. The peak lies above the Hooker Glacier between Mt Footstool and the Copland Pass.

The climb is a two day trip and will take place on the 27th/ 28th November.

Jane will not be 'guiding' the climb- any women interested must be capable of looking after themselves on a grade 2 alpine climb and must have all their own equipment.

If you are interested in participating in this climb, contact Pat in the first instance. Places are limited. or phone: 03 377 7595

2:21:34 PM
On 6/09/2010 vwills wrote:

>Why are the Kiwis putting more effort into celebrating an Australian mountaineer
>than Aussies?

NZ has mountains? Most women I climb with have sensibly decided fun in the sun is the way forward? Seriously, good on them for organising everything, even if I am not going near those big cold snowy things this december. I do have plenty of photos of women climbing, however, some of them even in the mountains, do you know if they still want images Vanessa?

2:52:05 PM
I'm not sure about the photos. I havent even got around to sending any of mine, but I am going over for 2 weeks before to try and climb something.

In defence of mountaineering: NZ is easier to get to than Perth from the east coast, its sunny in the mountains sometimes (more than it has been on the east coast of Australia lately!) and when it all comes together its glorious. And if it doesnt come together you can appreciate the sunny days on warm rock even more
3:11:57 PM
I've had better spells of weather in NZ than Natimuk of late as well! Hope you get a good patch for your trip.

11:45:53 AM
The latest update:
1. Sellout dinner
2. Scholarship for young female mountaineer (that rules me out!)
3. Photos still needed of female climbers (before Nov 20)

Read on:

Freda Du Faur Centenary Dinner Sell Out

Tickets for the Freda Du Faur Centenary Dinner at The Old Mountaineers Café, Mt Cook on December 4th are now SOLD OUT.

There are still tickets for the Forum/Afternoon Tea event at The Hermitage. To purchase your ticket ($20pp) for this event, go to:

Gottleib-Erica Alpine Scholarship for Aspiring Women Alpinists

To celebrate the life and climbs of Erica and Gottlieb, the Erica-Gottlieb Trust wish to contribute $750 towards the alpine instruction of an aspiring young women climber. The scholarship is available to non- NZAC members as well.

The applicant must be:

Under thirty years old.
Passionate about mountaineering.
For an application for the scholarship go to:

A request for images from the Department of Conservation

A visual presentation of women climbers is being prepared as part of the Freda du Faur festivities taking place at Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park this December.

Images of women climbers wanted for Freda du Faur centenary celebrations

A digital slideshow is being prepared by Carla Braun-Elwert for the Freda du Faur celebrations taking place this year on 4th December in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. If you have a great image of yourself or other women climbers in action then please e-mail it to; or you can post a selection of suitable images on a CD to Carla Braun-Elwert, 60 Murray Place, Lake Tekapo 7945. The deadline for submission is 20 November 2010.

Images collated so far include women climbing in both alpine and rock environments and general pictures honouring women climbers from the early 1900’s onwards. Please include details of where the image was taken and who is in the photograph.

Kiersten McKinley | Community Relations Ranger | Department of Conservation

4:58:49 PM
Maybe it should be in trip reports but had a thoroughly good time in NZ for 2 weeks to Dec 5th. No precipitation over that entire time. Of course, have to whinge about something- namely it was very hot, only occasional freeze and difficult access in parts.

Got to Mt Cook Village on Monday afternoon and after sorting gear the Aussie contingent (Gemma, Tash and myself) headed up to Sefton biv at 730pm not wanting to waste a day of golden weather. It was late by the time we had dinner and went to sleep under the bivi rock (like after midnight) but we got up at 4am and climbed the Footstool. Pleasant warm up. Some toxic sunscreen in the eyes made Gemmas descent miserable and half blind so we rested at the biv for a day and then headed back over the east ridge of the Footstool to traverse the range over Cadogan and duFaur peaks. Cadogan was straightforward but a whiteout, wide schrunds, some mixed climbing and a lot of up and down saw us making a bed of rocks and bivying at 930 that night 2 hours out from Copland shelter.
Fortunately the weather cleared and we headed across the pass and down the Hooker the following day.

A team of 8 NZ women ascended du Faur peak from the Copland shelter later in the week. They may have been perplexed by our radiating footprints from the summit.

A days resupply saw us walk back up the Hooker to Gardiner Hut, and the following day to Empress. We were joined by a friend of mine who has been up the valley a fair bit and who was amazed by the poor state of the ice and snow. We looked at Earles ridge on Cook and climbed up to Earles Gap but the Empress shelf side was cut off with very wide schrunds a lot of large icefall. The rock straight up from the gap was not appealing so our plan was thwarted. We looked at the NW couloir to Low Peak and gave that a try but turned around at about 3050 m when the snow and ice ran out. It may have been possible to traverse to Porters Col but the seracs looked rather threatening and stuff was falling down regularly from very early in the day. The west ridge looked like a good way to go with 2 Kiwi women doing a grand traverse from Gardiner that way.

We returned to Gardiner and headed up the Noeline Glacier to try Nazomi but got hemmed in by large crevasses and cliffs on the true left. Perhaps we could have run the gauntlet of the icefall off the south face of Cook but even that looked cut off and deadly.

Still it was great getting up the Hooker and despite conditions rapidly deteriorating at least we werent stuck in huts for days on end.

The afternoon tea and dinner and talks were all interesting. There were a few documentary makers getting footage and apparently Mayan Gobat-Smith is going to do a reenactment in period costume (though up the Linda). Good luck to her.

One of the most interesting things about reading a bit of history was how much conditions have changed in a very short period of time. Hooker hut is pretty much cut off now but pack horses used to carry supplies beyond this. Copland pass which used to be considered an alpine tramp now consists of hours of moraine bashing, a horrible cable for the moraine wall, a disintegrating ridge and a rock threatened snow slope to get to a pass which had a fairly steep ice ramp on the Copland side to get off.

There are 13 messages in this topic.


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