17 Down Under:
17 DOWN UNDER. "A celebration of moderate grade climbing in Victoria". 184 pages. 285 images. Father & son team, Steve & John Morris, embark on a journey to climb and photograph 50 of the best rock climbs in Victoria, grade 17 & under. Inc bookmark $50.00
This might not be the right place to post this topic but I was wondering if anyone here has done this trip and has any info.
I'm planning to go in November allowing 6 days to get from Raspberry Flat to the top of Aspiring and back. Via the north west ridge.
Any info or tips appreciated. Particularly what gear you took and used.
Pickets, deadmen, screws, rock pro? Bothy, bags, boots, and layers. Single or half rope?
I have a pretty good list going but it can't hurt to get another one, two, or fifteen opinions.
Ps. Please tell me if I should be posting this elsewhere.
generally straightforward routes, great peak & lovely area.
go in, up & out in a weather window (2-3 days) so you can travel light.
sandshoes for the approach & stash them after you cross the river & start upwards.
minimal alpine kit - axes, crampons, light rope, glacier travel kit (eg one stake & one screw each). maybe a couple of pieces of rock pro (slings, 2-4 nuts, 1-2 med-sml cams; mostly scrambling; sometimes exposed); low-moderate angle snow (sometimes with high consequence runouts).
These routes were opened in the long axe and rope around the waist era and it is probably best to climb them with this in mind (& in good conditions), but you could still get killed if you fell over (or get knocked).
Done Aspiring 11 times and Cook 4 times. The West Matukituki Valley area is awesome. Great first alpine 3000m peak especially via the easier NW Ridge. Conditions are what can turn the route (from Colin Todd Hut) into either an easy 8 - 9 hour alpine bush walk with mostly rock/scree, only roping up for the Iso Saddle area and the final 100m summit ice cap, or a desperate 20+ hour epic with low visibility, verglass, fresh snow cover, wind and darkness all making the ascent/descent more challenging so be prepared for both!!! Access can be either via French Ridge Hut and the Quarterdeck to get you onto the Bonar Glacier (more scenic, better hut but longer and a bit harder with a big pack) or straight up the valley and access via the Bevan Col route. Bivy/camping options if you are carrying a tent. Personally making it a circuit gives you the best of both routes. To keep weight down I just use a half rope as you will be using it mainly for easy glacier walking, you shouldn't have anything steeper than 45 degrees on the summit cap area (we just solo up this if not windy) and a few slings, you might do one short rap on the descent, good headlamp with fresh batteries, a GPS is a lifesaver for nav if you plan to walk out via Bevan Col or the Bonar Glacier and the weather goes to poo but you have waypoints saved on the GPS...so easy!!! There are blankets in the huts (spares) so go light on a big bag. Down jacket for sure. Route finding on the NW Ridge can be an issue on the way down if cloud comes in so some fluro yellow duct tape strategically placed on rocks facing up hill every now and then will keep you from staying too high on the way down. Remove it as you go. If you go too high on the ridge you get forced into rapping the Buttress which can be 4 x raps or more if only on a single skinny rope. Going too low gets you close to a 50m drop down onto the Therma Glacier so stick to terrace ledges in between the two. Have the huts saved on the GPS as well...nothing worse than nearly walking passed the hut at 1:00am in the morning in a snow storm...mind you normally smell the bogger before you even see the hut!!!
Keep alpine hardware basic, November can still be snowy but no freeze so I prefer to have 2 x stakes, no dead man as the are a waste of time, slings, 2 x screws for up on the summit ice cap mainly as a safety to build an anchor for safety/photos/possible rap off the summit if windy. Most gear is for crevasse rescue practice or just in case. The Quarterdeck should have almost no large crevasses on it but you may have to zig zag around a bit to get to the top. The main Bonar Glacier is easy if you keep either way left or way right once you reach the half way point to Colin Todd Hut as the centre hump is crevasse central (close to the bottom of the SW Ridge). The walk over the hard ice from Bevan Col to Colin Todd Hut is a fairly flat and easy plod with a schrund or two and small cracks in the ice so I would still rope up for this. The whole route can be done with just a good solid walking axe but I carry a hammer for anchor building and possible crevasse rescue options.
Take a stack of FHM magazines as they haven't been changed in 10 years!!!
All in all a great climb, beware the Ramp if you decide to go that way as it is a killer so most climb up the Ramp (pitched) and descend the NW Ridge (a lot easier to do if you have been there before or done a recce on the route first...)
Climb safe and watch out for the sand flies and the Keas!!!
Thanks guys. Great info. Steve, I was planning to take the bevan col route to Colin Todd and out the same way. I have a 2 man tent that's 2.2 kilos and was thinking we'd camp before the waterfall below bevan col then stash the tent and continue to the hut. Is that wise or should we take the tent incase the huts full?
Was also planning to take the ramp both up and down. Bad idea?
My concern was having not ascended the entire NW ridge, route finding on the way down would be problematic. We could always down climb the ramp on belay or "abseil" off bollards if it gets too hairy.
The rack I'm considering is;
4 or 5 nuts, 1 screw each (party of 2 btw) probably a 16 and a 22, a picket each, assorted slings, tat, and crevasse gear.
The only rope I have is my 9.8 rock rope weighing in at almost 4 kilos. My partner only has 10.somethings. So I guess I'm in the market for a dry treated half rope. Got my eye on Sterlings evo duetto 8.4. Maybe even in 50 metre.
The boots. I have some pretty sturdy, warm and stiff leather backpacking boots I was hoping would get me through. Yea or nay?
Anything else you can think of would be greatly appreciated.
ie. to take or not to take a bothy bag, leaving a hire car at raspberry flat for a whole week, what to do about my outstanding NZ speeding fines?
Ps. I'll make sure to pack a couple nat geo's for the hut.
Rock, Ice stuff dont bother. Maybe axes crampons & 2 snow stakes.4 litres of water and 2 litres of sunscreen if you want to carry something heavy. We had a 9mm normal rope didnt get very wet. If you get the rope wet your not tight enough in crevasse country!
We did the ramp. Up and down. Good idea to keep moving a "fridge door" came down it on our way down!
Afternoon trudge back over the Bonar was the killer. 15 h F Ridge Hut rtn. took 11h 3 y later (Feb 82) when we did the SW & descended NW.
Walked in and climbed it a couple of times by NW and SW ridges. Both times in November. Up FR and over quarterdeck each time on the way in. Stayed at Colin Todd for NW (up/down Ramp) and camped at base of SW for that trip. Exited by Bevan col for NW and back via FR for SW.
Definitely take stake and screw each. I'd take two screws each.
We pitched sections of the ridge above the ramp on the first trip because of blue ice. Two years later in November I plunged down the same section practically with my hands in my pockets.
NZ climbing is about preparing for the worst conditions and enjoying it when they aren't.
Get fit - vertical gain is what it's all about and is something that most Aussies don't get access to.
The campsite above the waterfall is much nicer (grassy knoll with rock walls) and you will easily get there in a day from the carpark at Rasberry. From there only a few hours up to Bevan Col. Very much doubt the hut would be full in November, plus guiding companies have spare tents stashed there so they are obliged to camp if the hut gets full of private climbers. Yeh any solid boot that takes a crampon safely will be fine. Up and down the Ramp is fine as long as you are prepared to either go slow (pitching) or once you cross the schrund at the bottom of the Ramp then go solo on 50 degree terrain. Usually firm in the mornings. In the late arvo it turns to poo so either you need to be a confident decsender or same again, pitch or rap for safety. What kills people is moving as a roped party on steep terrain, with no running belays in and usually with either icy conditions (easy to slide) or soft conditions (self arrest isn't worth diddly in these conditions so trying to pull a mate up, let alone yourself is near impossible. I would still do a recce on the standard NW Ridge route so that one) you know the way down, 2) you can go up the Ramp in firmer (and faster) conditions and do a traverse by descending a different way (remember the fluro yellow gaffer tape you placed earlier on the recce!!!). As far as bivy bags go, if you carry it...YOU WILL BIVY!!!!! Be careful with your hire car at Rasberry as there have been a lot of break ins over the years...
P.S...Can't help you with the speeding fines!!! Bro!!!