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JasonG

New Zealand climbing

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I already PM'd Dru about his trip but I though I would ask the whole group on their reccommendations/experiences climbing down in the Southern Alps. My wife and I are headed down from Dec. 15th-Feb 15th with the intent of climbing as much as possible and are mainly interested in alpine stuff like Aspiring, Cook, Tasman, and Tutuko. We aren't crazy hard or even very talented, so please don't tell us to climb NZ grade 5 stuff (this is supposed to be a fun honeymoon not a sufferfest). We are interested in what people thought was fun and worthwhile (for your average Cascade type of climber- i.e. moderate snow/ice/rock). Thanks for any info! Feel free to either post here(for the benefit of others who might be planning a trip) or PM me. Cheers

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I think I told you this already but dont forget the north island Volcanoes which are similar in nature to the Oregon cascades. Except they have geysers and cool stuff. Ruapehu was very fun.

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Ruapehu? Isn't that the one right outside of Auckland where you can drive practically to the top?

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Not exactly "right outside Aukland," but it does have a ski area on it and, hence, a road. Dru is right, the chain of three volcanos there is very similar to the Three Sisters, only they are a little more active and have cooler thermal features and stuff.

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Heinrich-

For a casual walk, I would recommend a hut-to-hut hike in Tongariro National Park (I think that is what it is called) near Lake Taupo on the North Island. There are some good treks on the South Island, too, but if you are looking for casual climbing you will probably want to be careful what you tackle in the Southern Alps. Mount Cook, for example, rises nearly 10,000 feet above the glacier next to it and the easiest route is like climbing a glaciated North Cascade peak with Ptarmigan Ridge on top of that (though some people fly to the hut at 6,000' and from there it is only a 6,000 foot climb with a busted up glacier below an active icefall leading to five technical pitches followed by 1000 feet of low-angle ice). And the weather sucks.

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yea tongoraro is great, but the excellent alpine climbing is found on the south island. Try Mt. hicks, a great moderate ice climb. Aspiring is outstanding and a bit easier than cook. Expect to pay some $$ if you want to chopper or fly into climb.

Don't be affrid to use a local guide while down there, some of the best in the world!

Have fun!!!

www.theascendingpath.com

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Plan on spending some time at Mt Cook national park.

 

Awesome setting, great hiking and easy-access alpine cragging in addition to all the big mountaineering routes.

 

have fun!

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there was a great rundown of moderate rock routes in the vicinity of cook in a recent R&I or Climbing (sometime last year). Friends have advised me to take extra gear and sell it down there for a tidy profit, if you can spare the weight!

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I guess I should be a little more specific. I have the climbing guidebooks, have traveled down there before and realize that the Southern Alps are WAY more burly than the Cascades. That being said, I still think my wife and I could climb some of the big peaks down there and have a fun time doing it. I guess I'm mainly interested in how people thought some of the popular routes down there measure up to some of our Cascade Classics. For example, I think my wife and I would probably have fun on NZ climbs equivalent to local routes like Liberty Ridge, Frostbite Ridge, North Ridge of Forbidden, etc. etc.

 

Although I realize like matt said, that the weather SUCKS! I think I've read that the best thing to have for NZ climbing is patience. We're bring lots of good books to the huts and I think we're going to cheat and fly in with a ton of food to wait out storms. Thanks again for any info, I appreciate it.

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I spent a couple of weeks around Mt. Cook (based in Mt. Cook village, at the local campground) in early December a few years back. The weather and snow conditions were pretty poor at that time. About a third of the days were climbable, but deep snow made progress hard in places. It was early season and finding partners was pretty tough. In the end, I did the Ball pass high route (which I highly recommend as in introduction to the area -- great views of Mt. Cook) alone. Also attempted Mt. Stefton (theoretically a good intro climb from the village, but turned around after a crevasse fall) and climbed the Acolyte (an easy peak, but somewhat remote, infrequently climbed), and did a bit of cragging. My biggest regret was probably not making it up to the upper Tasman glacier. It's pretty cheap to take a plane up there, and then situate yourself in one of the huts for climbing local peaks.

 

If you're stuck in the village, check out the (only) pub. It's a pleasant place to hang out and drink cheap beer when the weather is crappy. Be sure to stock up on supplies before you reach the village. It has limited groceries. You may also want to look into a NZAC membership, because it makes the hut fees more reasonable, I think.

 

Basically, don't go there with high expectations (especially "early" season), and you'll end up having a great time. I barely managed to get up anything, but still had a blast. Have fun.

 

Ben

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It rains more in the Southern Alps during El Nino conditions (now just starting). Especially in the Darrans. When i was there in 97-98 the east side of S island was in a drought, but it rained about 17-18 of the 21 days I was in Homer Hut.

 

On the other hand you can luck out with weather. I climbed Cook after only a week in the country and the guides in the hut were calling it the best conditions in 10 years. I tried the walk in thing first to do the Grand Traverse but lower glacier was pretty melted out in mid-Jan so I flew in to Plateau Hut & climbed Linda Gl (look out for serac fall on this, do the Zurbriggens instead). Then I walked out via Anzac Col and Boys Gl. and was nearly crushed by a huge boulder [Eek!] apparently 1/3 of the parties going out this route are injured!

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I was also there in 97-98 and it did rain A LOT. It sounds like the El Nino this year is supposed to be a lot weaker than 97-but who knows. I agree on Zurbriggen-I think that is our plan instead of the Linda. I was also thinking of heading out via the Boys Gl, but I think I might try to fly out after learning that stat. Yikes!!!

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