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TR: Winter 2013, New Zealand

8:50:38 PM
Just a quick, and very late, TR to share photos from last years winter climbing trip to NZ. Unlike all my other trip reports of late, this will be light on words, and, comparatively, heavy on photos. Which is good, because the NZ mountains are rather photogenic, even if the subjects in them aren't.

Matt and I spent ten days in on the South Island last year. The time was spilt between Queenstown / Remarks and AMCNP. The Darrans Winter Meet was on at the time but we didn't go.

We spent the first two days, with some of the best ice conditions we saw, doing an Avvy course. Asking all the wrong questions worrying about the science, when the main goal is just to stay alive. Don't do this, focus on identifying the hazards, and navigation. Even using the transponders is comparatively unimportant.

After that, and much debate, we drove out to AMCNP. Enjoyed an almost empty club hut with some other Australians, and set our sights on Ice Gangsters, put up a year earlier by Steve Fortune and Jamie Vinton Boot. It's probably telling that the only other climbers there were Australian. We didn't have a chance. Relying on Matts dodgy memory we set off up the wrong steam, which we only found out months later. Approaching the West Face of Sealy through deep soft snow. Slow going post holing. We tried to pick a route of least resistance, that would land us beneath the South Face before a bivvy and an awesome alpine send. Ha. We tracked south instead of heading up the snow laden west face, and ascended a system of wide gullies. Half way up one of them we passed a sheep, hind legs broken, surrounded by its own shit. It was going to die there. The soft snow made slow going, as as it started getting dark, we approach a ridge line, still hours away from the base of our intended route.

Ever dug a snow cave?
Me neither.

Now's as good a time as ever to learn, boys. It worked, next time we'll do better. I hope.

The next day we conceded our primary target was not going to happen, and started to look for alternatives. We ended up settling for the summit of Edgar Thompson. At least we stood on top of something. It was a brutal two days of alpine slugging, with both of us suffering considerable cramps. On the descent, the sheep was still alive. It had a companion, uninjured, a little further down.

After that we licked our wounds and made tracks back to Queenstown, and settled into a cheap hotel on the outskirts of Frankton.
First goal was the Remarks traverse. Also is horribly soft snow, and with low visibility. We underestimated the seriousness and took to little gear. For the few sections we roped up for, we ended up doing dodgy things like girth hitching a sling to a nut as we didn't have enough biners. A little below the summit of Single Cone we bailed, marvelling that the traverse had been done in under two hours, and descended the grand couloir, passing the Alta Ice on the way back to the car park.

The next day we climbed Fridays Fool on the west face of the Remarks. Its gold, I think its the mixed equivalent of some of the classic grade 12 multipitch routes in Arapilies. Easy enough for novices to get up, hard enough to make them feel like kings when they top out. I turned wuss at the base, intimated by the obviously melting ice. Matt led the first two pitches, and copped a barrage of ice on the 2nd pitch. I led the 3rd pitch, 90 metres of snow, with a short steepening of ice. At the second belay we had been marvelling at a wonderful, and hard, looking corner to the left. At the third belay we traversed over to it, set and anchor and top ropped the thing. Book of Fools. I guessed M7, ha, what do I know. Subsequent research said it was M5. The last pitch is an incredible snow filled rocky chimey. At the base of it, looking for gear, I had a brain wave. Give a man a hex and a hammer. Its quite unreasonable how proud I felt of myself. Until the top out moves, protected by a star picket that can be slung, the only other gear I got promptly fell out.

After topping out and coiling ropes, we started our descent, walking past the telecom towers. Here we heard voices, and met a mixed team of Kiwi and Welsh climbers. Including HuwJ as they topped out from Minge Kunt. We had good conversation on the descent to the carpark.

The next day we went to Lake Alta for some dripping ice, with vague plans to meet our new friends there. Feeling a little bolder, I led up a WI3 route, that is half ice, half rocky chimney, and totally cool climbing. With the ice in the condition it was in, I got two bits of gear, neither, Im guessing, would have held a fall. Whilst belaying Matt up I met chockstone local Brendan, who was topping out the next route the right and climbing with our new buddies. We spent the rest of the day top roping, doing laps, swapping tools. No one really wanted to lead wet ice, though Im kinda regretting I didn't, as there were a few other lines we didn't get on that I would have really liked to do.

The forecast was poor for the next and last day of our trip, so we all went to the chossy dry tooling cave The Pink Palace, and pulled on rock.

A pub dinner at the end of the trip.

I was due to return for the Ice and Mixed festival a few weeks later, and was looking forward to climbing with Huw there. I never made it though, as my daughter showed up the Friday morning of the festival. A worthwhile compromise.

Approaching Mt Sealy West Face

Mt Sealy West Face

Digging A Snow Cave

Would you sleep with this man?

Selfie with Sealy

South face of Mt Sealy

Looking towards Mt Cook

Remarkables Traverse

Pitch 2, Fridays Fool

Top of Book of Fools

View from 3rd Belay, Fridays Fool

The top pitch of Fridays Fool

Lake Alta.
12:52:15 PM
Nice one Phil! Wasn't expecting this trip report good to see the shots and read about what else you got up to on that trip.

Bring on winter :)

Duang Daunk
1:08:50 PM
Great photos bro.

You were carrying ice axes and you didn't put the sheep out of its misery?

3:07:43 PM
Oh man. If only we had been carrying a BBQ. We were hungry on the descent.

I can only imagine the parodic levels of mishap I would have been writing about if we had attempted that Double D. I'm sure the sheep would have been none to keen on the idea of a 'mercy killing' with primitive and barbaric implements.

Huw. I just whipped it up quickly because I figured there was no point just leaving the photos doing nothing on the HDD. You guys had a much fancier looking camera, was it Paul's? I can only imagine he knew how to use it to (unlike me - I deal with microphones and speakers, not camera lenses). Perhaps you could add some pics from Alta or your time in the Darrans, I haven't seen any of those.

4:02:42 PM
That looks like another world of suffering... Cool pics.

6:21:45 PM
Mikey I don't think any of my TRs to date have described more suffering than could have been reasonably expected from the outset (with the possible, but mostly trivial, exception of the moth-in-the-ear episode; I really didn't see that one comming). But, I believe you may have a new tale of cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of the Buffalo Nordwand. I, for one, am keen to hear it... Indulge me, please.
9:17:51 PM
The DSLR was Iain's, but here's a couple of shots I took on the same trip...

Darrans and Remarks Winter 2013

Barrier Face at dawn, Darran mountains

Paul getting ready to descend the infamous Talbot's Ladder, Darran mountains

Paul breaking trail on the west face of the Remarks

Iain and Paul at the final belay of Minge Kunt

Iain and Paul traversing the west face of the Remarks

The full team! Clockwise from top, Brendan, Iain, Paul, Matt (hidden in the chimney!?), Phill

Crossing Lake Alta as the sun sets

9:33:55 PM
Great photos Huw! I need to get a proper camera.

8:49:52 AM
Great photos guys! This certainly pricked my interest in getting over there in winter sometime. Its also a reminder for me to put up a TR of my summer trip over there earlier this year!

11:11:11 AM
An inspiring trip report, as I have wondered from time to time what can be achieved by relatively inexperienced mountaineers who have common sense re safety, plus a go for it attitude, on their side.
An abundance of photos is not a bad thing, and it is interesting to compare the quality of the results from different camera types under basically identical conditions.

Re DD wrote;
>You were carrying ice axes and you didn't put the sheep out of its misery?
& phillipivan replied;
>Oh man. If only we had been carrying a BBQ. We were hungry on the descent.

>I can only imagine the parodic levels of mishap I would have been writing about if we had attempted that Double D. I'm sure the sheep would have been none to keen on the idea of a 'mercy killing' with primitive and barbaric implements.

Interesting, and I see both points of view re a slow death vs crude implement swifter despatch.
Tell us DD, do you carry a Yates-knife for recalcitrant dying sheep belay situations (heh, heh, heh), on your more out there adventures?

9:41:59 PM
For those who are interested, I have a Sony RX100. If you're in the market for a new compact this is as good as it gets.

Mine's done several winter trips as well as a few laps up the north wall and countless days in the bush. It's proved to be a pretty tough unit.
5:23:03 PM
Hey thanks for sharing that. Great pics too. I am hoping to emulate some of what you did in July this year.

Duang Daunk
10:37:54 AM
On 5/05/2014 IdratherbeclimbingM9 wrote:
>Tell us DD, do you carry a Yates-knife for recalcitrant dying sheep
>belay situations (heh, heh, heh), on your more out there adventures?
Yep, but I am lightweight, compared to those who carry a machette.

I wouldn't have been hungry if I had been on that trip.

11:41:02 AM
But perhaps covered in fresh blood and old shit.

Duang Daunk
6:04:57 PM
On 7/05/2014 phillipivan wrote:
>But perhaps covered in fresh blood and old shit.

Ay pi, bro.
What is 10 inches long and f---s sheep?

Think about it for a bit.

No, it is not a kiwi sex fetish thing.

A croc-dundee knife.

6:13:33 PM
cheers for posting the photos up. Was good to catch up with you guys.

8:12:34 PM
Great TR.

One of my more cringe-worthy memories involves being hanging out in paddocks with some friends as a kid and seeing a sheep lying down and in a bad way. After some earnest discussion we decided we should do the right thing and put it out of its misery (good cub scouts that we were), so we promptly tried to club it on the head with a large stick.

Fortunately, the stick was rotten and in no way up to the job - the sheep bleated in protest, staggered to its feet and was off.

We later realized it had been lambing.

Something about the road to hell being paved with (genuinely, in this case) good intentions...

8:26:21 PM
Ben, that is a classic tale....

White Trash
10:29:06 PM
good trip report and I like your style.

>The full team! Clockwise from top, Brendan, Iain, Paul, Matt (hidden in the chimney!?), Phill

the top 2 climbers look like they are making abaleakov belay thread holes in the snow.

12:04:51 AM
The fact that no one died is all the evidence you need that no one belayed off threads or screws.

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There are 26 messages in this topic.


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