Salathe Baby! There were people everywhere! Coming up underneath us, rapping down on top of us, jugging fixed ropes and haul bags from every angle. Freerider is a 3 pitch variant of the famous Salathe Wall on the south-west face of El Capitan. It has become an incredibly popular route, and after climbing it you can see why!
The ice hammock is a relatively new invention and although it's a great idea and works well, it's unlikely that any outdoor company is going to start making them commercially anytime soon, so we thought its worth writing an article for anyone who has an interest in making and using them for alpine climbing.
I recently snuck off from a social tramping trip to the Copland Hot Pools to make a solo ascent of the West Ridge of Mt Sefton. The easiest route on Mt Sefton (MC 2+), the West Ridge provides a straightforward snow climb from Welcome Pass. The route either follows the reasonably level Douglas Neve to where a final snowslope leads to the summit, or else a much more interesting and crevasse free option involves gaining the ridge crest shortly after Welcome Pass and sidling a beautiful sharp snow ridgeline until the final summit slope.
Eyeing the next thin slot above, I jammed my fingers in deep and wedged them into the constriction. Far above my last piece of protection, I reached for the silver cam on my harness that would fit inside the crack, before suddenly noticing a rusted piton in the granite to my right. Hammered to the hilt and likely fifty years old. I tried to imagine myself in the footsteps of Fred Beckey, and Yvon Chouinard, questing up the 2000 foot west buttress of the South Howser tower, way back in 1961.
"Alastair! Come help me!"
I spun around and sprinted down a slope of broken granite, when a whiff of something toxic temporarily blinded me. Confused, rushing, I tripped down the scree to find Gemma doubled over, screaming, a quivering hand held up covered in orange oil. "What's happened to you!" Strolling down from the summit of Half Dome an hour earlier, our tallest big wall climb to date, we thought all the difficulties were over. Who would have known the last two hours to the valley floor would prove to be the crux.
What is the New Zealand Alpine Team?
The New Zealand Alpine Team is an initiative of the Expedition Climbers Club Inc. that represents a new concept for climbing in this country. It is born of a desire to support and encourage aspiring young Kiwi alpinists looking to improve their mountain skills. Some of New Zealand's best alpine climbers have volunteered their time to mentor a future generation of alpinists. In doing so, we are hoping to help a group of young climbers to learn valuable skills and knowledge that might have otherwise taken them many more years to acquire.