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Blake

[TR] Mt. Aspiring - New Zealand- SW Ridge 3/25/200

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Climb: Mt. Aspiring - New Zealand-SW Ridge

 

Date of Climb: 3/25/2006

 

Trip Report:

4427Aspiring_117.jpg

 

Last week I got lucky. I got lucky on the loan of a car, crampons, boots, gaitors, and glacier glasses all for free from friends. It was a good thing that I was able to secure all these loans, because for once the NZ weekend weather looked good for some alpine adventuring.

 

A fellow American and CC.er named Graham and proposed Mt. Aspiring as a possible trip idea, so last Friday morning about 2AM saw Graham and myself rolling into a parking lot at the end of gravel road in Mount Aspiring National Park. The next morning we were awoken to the sound of angry cattle all around. New Zealanders, always on the lookout for the chance to multi-task, had transformed the parking lot into a part-time cattle ranch. After some early morning bovine taunting, we were on our way.

4427Aspiring_004.jpg

 

We soon discovered that such newfangled ideas as ‘bridges’ and ‘switchbacks’ have not entered the NZ mainstream. Note the ominous clouds above our river crossing… more on these later.

4427Aspiring_020.jpg

 

We climbed up from the valley floor, which was about 1,200’ up into these dense clouds, and finally hit snow at about 5,500’. Visibility was minimal, and I was fearing a weekend storm.

4427Aspiring_028.jpg

 

As we traversed our first major snow slope I remarked

“Hey Graham, is this a Glacier?”

“Not According to the map.”

“Pretty good-sized crevasse right there for a snow slope.”

… at which point we tied a rope on.

 

4427Aspiring_035.jpg

 

We set up our tent Friday night in a blustery white out, sleeping at 6,000’ on the Bonar Glacier. Although it towered over us, we had yet to see Aspiring. However, sometime in the middle of the night, things miraculously cleared up, and we agreed to a 3AM wakeup.

Walking across the glacier in the dark, the peak’s SW ridge was both intimidating and inviting.

 

4427Aspiring_046.jpg

 

This was going to be my first serious ice/steep snow route, and the freely borrowed crampons proved they were worth every cent I paid for them by frequently wiggling loose. The first part of the route consisted of mixed steep snow and rock, with solid water ice covering sections.

 

4427Aspiring_058.jpg

 

Following this part, we climbed up a beautiful steep snow arête, with big exposure down the south face. The snow was very well bonded, and we found good places for some ice screws.

 

4427Aspiring_061.jpg

 

The technical crux came in the final 1/3 of the climb, where Graham lead what he rated as WI3 R.

 

4427Aspiring_064.jpg

 

As he passed through the steepest beginning section, and large chunks of ice flew by my head, he mentioned that he hoped to leave a little for me as well. However, when I began to follow and climb through the crux, my tools found more rock features than solid ice. Good thing for Portland dry-tooling experience!

 

4427Aspiring_074.jpg

 

Soon all that remained was a steep snow slope, and we broke out of the icy gulley into the bright sun.

 

4427Aspiring_075.jpg

 

By 2pm we were on the summit, with views of the blue Pacific, and much of the South Island. We were met on top by a couple of local climbers who had ascended the NW ridge.

 

4427Aspiring_109.jpg

 

With two ropes, the four of us were able to down climb/rappel the NW ridge back to the glacier fairly smoothly. Plans were made for dinner in town the next night, and we parted ways, getting back to our tent about 7pm.

 

4427Aspiring_120.jpg

 

The hike out yesterday morning went much more smoothly than had our fog-bound approach, and we were in town enjoying pizza at the pub by 6pm. bigdrink.gif

 

 

Gear Notes:

Ice tools/screws/small rock pro

 

Approach Notes:

ouch!

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That's a sweet climb, eh? Boy, that brings back memories. What's with the ropes on the last bit? I guess the ice was so piss poor when I did it that we just didn't bother. Pretty interesting climbing looking between your legs and saying 'Don't come off...Don't come off....Don't come off....'

Are you going to be in NZ long?

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awesome pics. That snow arete shot location is pretty famous--patagonia(tm yoda.gif) used it this year.

Congrats--glad you finally got on some alpine schnitzel!

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Awesome climb, Blake. Way to go!

 

We did that bit of joining forces with other climbers for double rope raps before on Rainier. They were PDXers, if I remember correctly. Works out great sometimes.

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rockband.gifrockband.gifrockband.gif

 

Sweet pics dude! Awesome trip report!

 

Good thing for Portland dry-tooling experience!

 

Who knew practicing scraping crumbly basalt w/ dull ice axes and crampons bailed up with mud, blackberry bushes and assorted trash by headlamp in the company of bums and the constant drone of I-205 would help some day. Looking forward to climbing with you this summer thumbs_up.gif

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Great photos of a great area.

 

Any kea encounters?

 

Did you descend "the Ramp" or go all the way down the NW Ridge?

 

Cheers! - "Handle of Speights, mates?" bigdrink.gif

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Great photos of a great area.

 

Any kea encounters?

 

Did you descend "the Ramp" or go all the way down the NW Ridge?

 

 

yeah, we saw more kea birds down at timberline (keas are evil alpine parrots)

 

Our route from the NW ridge onto the glacier wasn't "the ramp" we just descended/rapped some ledges before the ridge ended, in order to reach our cached gear before dark.

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Good on ya mate! That Graham kid sure sounds like a wanker.

 

Good times.

 

G

 

That Graham kid is a wanker....

 

We in Montreal miss you... Who else am I supposed to go climbing wtih in the middle of the week? Grr... it's nice outside and the rock is dry...

 

Take care,

Nik

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all Grahams are wankers. Its what makes the ladies love us! Who else gets such a great nickname in kindergarden?

 

great report guys, looks like a ton of fun!

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all Grahams are wankers. Its what makes the ladies love us! Who else gets such a great nickname in kindergarden?

 

Pleeeasaassssseeeeeeeeee: Crackers: your parents didn't name you Graham?

 

Thanks for sharing Blake!

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