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Chockstone Forum - Crag & Route Beta

Crag & Route Beta

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Author
Silberhorn Ridge / Mt Tasman or SW Ridge Aspiring

Neil
12/10/2010
4:19:40 PM
I am planning on heading to NZ this Summer with the aim of some alpine climbing cumulating in something like the Silberhorn Ridge / Mt Tasman or SW Ridge Aspiring.

Can anyone suggest some suitable "warm up" climbs for these routes ?

Ideally something of similar technical nature i.e 50-70deg ice, but slightly less committing and shorter would be nice.
If not, I'll settle for any classic more moderately angled ice routes / peaks.

All suggestions welcome as I am not too familiar with NZ.

epic steve
12/10/2010
5:33:22 PM
Hey,jump on the West Face or SW Ridge Dixon, directly opposite Plateau Hut and about 10 hour climb and descent (via easier East Ridge). Zurbriggen's Ridge on Cook ould be a great warm up as longer and a better test of your endurance (20 hour climb) and descend down the easier Linda Glacier route. Be careful of avalanche risks approaching Sibberhorn Ridge as all on the lee side of the divide.

Safe climbing and good luck with NZ's crappy weather!!!

Steve

nmonteith
12/10/2010
5:56:08 PM
2nd the Dixon suggestion as a warm-up. It's a great mix of technical gully and face stuff without the epic 24 hour day. Zurbiggans on the other hand isn't exactly a warm-up route... i found it just a long boring repetitive steep slog on front-points dodging the occasional flying boulder. Sibberhorn was a much much nicer route and no more technical than Zubbrigans. Tasman is a kick ass mountain.

Aspiring SW Ridge is a nice one as the actual climbing gets harder and harder the higher you get - so you are actually 'warming up' on route. It's not very long either - easy to polish off in half a day if you bivy somewhere near the base.
sleake
12/10/2010
8:02:29 PM
East face of Footstool is great too. Not the same exposure as the ridges, but sustained steep snow slope real close to the village, probably 500 meters or so.. Great way of getting comfortable soloing that sort of angle. Just make sure you are topping out by sunrise or so....... the face warms up real quick.
stuart h
13/10/2010
11:09:39 PM
Your question prompts me to observe that, although I think the current guidebooks describe them as NZ grade 3 or there-abouts, there is generally a big gap between the SW Ridge of Aspiring and the Silberhorn arête on Silberhorn & Tasman.

The SW on Aspiring is really probably maybe 3- with only about 5 metres of steepish climbing on the cascade into the upper couloir (it is a bit harder if this is not well iced but you can still climb the route pretty reasonably with adequate protection) and otherwise it is mostly fairly low angle for the approximately 700m from schrund to summit with a straightforward descent.

The Silberhorn arête varies considerably through the season (and across the years). Generally you will find it much steeper, longer, more complex and far more exposed than the SW ridge. It feels much bigger again because most parties will down-climb the route. Depending on conditions you may have to accept a degree of exposure to ice-cliffs on the left of the East Face and the route can feature some quite steep & exposed sections if/when schrunds cut the ridge, but the big issue with the climb is the condition of the rock step. If iced up it is quite a fun pitch up runnels through the cliff band; if not, it is, in my view, unacceptably dangerous. The rock embodies all the (generally grossly exaggerated) things people say about rock in the NZ alps: I can think of at least one fatality, 2 cut ropes and a couple of very scary near misses associated with climbing or descending the rock step out of condition.

I think the Silberhorn arête, unless you find it in very good conditions, is probably more accurately described as 4-. I don’t think it would be unusual to find the climbing more complex than Aoraki Mt Cook’s East Ridge. I think it is a bigger outing than the Zurbriggen because it is usually steeper, icier and you have to down-climb it.

They are both fantastic routes in great positions, but rather than being comparable I think that the climb on Aspiring might be a great warm-up for Tasman.

As nominated above, the S Ridge- E Ridge traverse of Dixon is a fantastic moderate alpine route (and climbing on a lovely scale – probably about 650m from schrund to summit) and, like the Silberhorn, it is accessed from Plateau Hut. There are several slightly more technical lines rising from the Syme Neve on the W Face and on Haast.

There are some really fun moderately technical and not overly long routes around Pioneer Hut on the other side of Mt Tasman. There are lines on the Fritz Range-Mallory –Barnicoat wall that don’t get much steeper than 70 degrees and range from 3 to 7 ropelengths (there are some fun harder lines as well) and this area gives access to moderately technical-ish climbs on Haidinger, Haast (although this can be a long walk for the amount of climbing) and through mixed gullies on the towers left of the W Face of Glacier Pk. From Pioneer you can access the North Shoulder on Tasman. Its crux is less technical than the SW on Aspiring but it is a much bigger undertaking and a real classic of the park – a magnificent skywalk with great views of the lakes and plains to the East and the ocean to the West.

The biggest problem with warm up routes in NZ is they tend to use up all the good weather, so hopefully you’ve got plenty of time.

Good luck with your trip.

Neil
19/10/2010
10:39:09 AM
Thanks for the info.

If the trip ends up being in February - would the SW Ridge of Aspiring still be a possibility ?

Epic Steve
20/10/2010
9:35:45 AM
Neil

Probably not as will be mostly rock in the steeper section down low...it does get climbed when out of condition but needs a few scary wire placements i nthe lovely NZ rock and a confident leader. I'd just run up the standard NW Ridge in Feb. I have climbed Zurbriggen's Ridge on Cook in mid March which was quite good conditions, no new snow avalanche risks and the old snow base was nice and firm. Most people tend to solo the 1000 metres or so of constant 50 degree snow until you hit the flat spot on the ridge to the right and then follow the crest for about 4 - 5 pitches of nice mixed climbing over rocks and snow to reach the base of the Summit Rocks (this is where the standard Linda Glacier route comes in from the right as well so the usual fast decsent route). Summit Rocks have wire cables for speedy belays/raps every 25m or so and are usually 4 pitches in total. Once you see the summit it is about another hour or so to the Chandeleir and the crest of the summit ridge. Airy balancing act walk for 30 - 40 metres will see you just below the final few metres of Aoraki's summit. Try not to stand on top of the last few metres as you want as much good juju for the descent!!!

Steve

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