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I was looking to start planning a trip to Mt Aspiring towards the end of this year. I was wondering if anyone has done it recently and had and thoughts to share on the climb / guidebooks / gear required or any other helpful information towards planning like what time of year it would be best to attempt to climb it.
I climbed Aspiring via 'the ramp' (the easiest route) some time ago. We climbed it in late summer and the actual climbing was largely rock scrambling once we got off the Bonar glacier. We didn't use any gear except being roped up on the glacier. If you are looking for a more 'alpine' experience on the ramp route then I'd suggest climbing earlier in the summer season (e.g. December) when there is more snow rather than later (e.g. Feb). The South-West ridge also looks an incredible line, but obviously harder and not something I've tried.
While you are in the area, the ridiculously named Mt Barff is also a fairly easy and enjoyable climb - especially in early season when there is (or was back when I was there) a sweet ice colouir down low leading onto the main ridge.
Did it in Dec in 1978 with Ken R.Not that recent but a few memories
-worst sunburn i ever had
-out for 16 hours FR Hut to FR return (is FR still there ?)
- hardly any belaying
-lots of snow
- worst part was the afternoon sludgy plod - walking our slackline- up the Bonar.
- gained & left NWR by the 'ramp' anout 1/2 way along the ridge. I think we went over some rocks on the way up, snow on the way down,BIIIG jump over bergshrund / softsnow flop at base
- aforesaid jump precipitated by big chunk of ice falling down slope near us.
Climbed SWR in Jan 81 a more dramatic climb but it was a colder day; descended NWR - a lot firmer snow than 78 & far more enjoyable. Just shows how conditions can vary!
Other hint wear light shoes eg volleys for the walk up the Matukituki valley & take time out to enjoy it. it is just a nice place! There are some big trout there too...
Been a few years since I was there too, 10 years.
Time of year would depend on your ability/route choice and general snow conditions from the prevailing winter.
Possible best times of year for popular routes:
South Face, technical,steep. Best tackled in winter or early spring as good freezes are important.
South west ridge, awesome route moderately steep through couloir. winter possible up to early mid summer. Ice/snow accumulation needs to be good through couloir otherwise its a miserable few moves on dodgy rock.
Northwest ridge via ramp, good all year except winter avalanche risk and late summer the entry to ramp can be tricky or cut off.
Northwest ridge via shipowner ridge. Good option for summer, late season it can be a rock scramble from colin todd hut all the way to summit snow slopes. (seen guys in trail shoes on this)
Other consideration is fitness, very rewarding to walk from car park to french ridge hut summit via SW ridge and back out. Lazy option (and best for getting a weather window) is to organise Charlie Ewing in the valley (still around?) and chopper to bevan col.
its an awesome peak, work out a weather strategy, i.e walk in with crippling sized packs to a hut or hang out in Wanaka and wait for the window and chopper in. I know what I would do nowadays ! enjoy. for Mt aspiring guide books contact NZAC.