Aoraki Day 1: Into the hills

I rolled into Aspiring Guides this morning to meet my guide and go through gear before hitting the road to drive towards Mt Cook Village. I’ll be climbing with Ervin from Slovakia who has a very strong guiding background all over the world. He is here in New Zealand for this climbing season, his 2nd season in NZ. I’m in good hands.

The weather was a bit ordinary today, with strong winds and patchy rain over Aoraki. Too windy to fly into Plateau Hut today so we opted to go climbing on some local crags. That’s all good. With lots of fresh snow last week the avalanche danger due to slab snow forming was raised to high so a bit of rain today will help pack the fresh stuff down. Plus the forecast is looking brilliant for the next 3 days, warmish (for the hills) and sunny. So on top of the todays rain, the sun will help melt the snow more and consolidate it more.

There hasn’t been anyone up to Plateau Hut since the snow which means lucky us we’ll have to cut new trail through the Linda Glacier, picking through cravasses and finding a route through. We’ll spend the next two sunny days doing this, pushing as far up as we can each day and climbing low to rest with a summit run planned for early Friday morning around 1am. But we won’t be alone. With the forecast fining up (perfect timing I must say) at least 2 more teams of two are headed up tomorrow and Aspiring Guides have another team flying in Thursday. Many hands (or legs should that be) make light work, particularly when it comes to cutting new trail in fresh snow.

The climbing today was awesome fun. Grade 12 or 14 I think. Easy climbing on exposed terrain and very well protected on fixed bolts the whole way. 6 pitches on a 60 metre rope we got in before the winds picked, making for cold conditions and difficult communication at time, yelling over the wind required.

Anyway, tomorrow is looking superb and we have a heli booked for 9 am to fly into Plateau Hut.

Unfortunately, this will the only update you guys get until we are back down on Saturday – no wifi from this point in.

Staying in Unwin Lodge tonight, one of the many facilities owned and run by NZ Alpine Club for NZAC members, of which I am one obviously. Full house here tonight with a large group of 20 or so plus many smaller groups. And how good is having wifi in the hills. I’ll make the most of it for sure.

Watch this space – check back in Saturday.

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2 thoughts on “Aoraki Day 1: Into the hills

  1. Have a good climb Mick. I’ve just arrived in QT after finishing the first main stage of Te Araroa. It looks like I missed you by a day or so which is a pity as I owe you a beer or two for your help and advice. Take care, Ross Young

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