Now in its fifth year running, the Remarkables Ice & Mixed Festival is becoming a must-attend event on the NZ climbing calendar! Climbers from all around the country and overseas gather in Queenstown for a long weekend to learn and practice basic mountaineering, ice climbing, mixed climbing and ski touring.
There's an immense satisfaction in seeing the fruition of many years of hard work, perseverance and the continual acquisition of skills garnered from climbing in New Zealand and abroad. Nothing demonstrates this tremendous New Zealand climbing ability better than the four first ascents on Taulliraju (5830m) over the past two weeks.
Departing on the 27th May, the Expedition Climbers’ Club (ECC) 2016 Peru Expedition will be the largest international climbing trip to leave New Zealand in the last 40 years. The expedition will be based in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca mountain range, with members of the 12 person group attempting to climb a variety of unclimbed routes on the many 5000 and 6000m peaks in the area. The expedition is also the pinnacle of the ECC’s 3-year elite youth development program; the New Zealand Alpine Team.
It all started at the 'Death Stairs', a flight of 250 steps above Coogee beach, Sydney. The endorphins were obviously running rampant after those sweaty laps, because when I asked Michael Mate whether he wanted to join me for an ascent of the infamous big wall aid climb Ozymandias at Mt Buffalo, he said yes straight away. A wise decision on his part? Time would tell. But I was stoked.
Climbing the Super Couloir on Mt Blanc du Tacul via its classic direct start is a must do climb for many alpinists visiting the Chamonix valley.
“You should have a crack at Sabre if you want something tough. By god, there’s a mountain for you!” G Hall-Jones to M Gill, c.a. 1958
Aiguille Sans Nom Direct linking to Gabarrou Silvy
The Carrington Rouse (originally known as the Rebuffet Terray) is a classic ice and mixed climb on the Aiguille Des Pélerins in the European Alps. With 550m of technical climbing and a close proximity to the mid-station of the Midi lift it makes for a nice winter day-trip from town if you plan to simul-climb it or a 1-day climb if you pitch the cruxes with a bivy before or after at the mid-station. Dan, Kim, Rose and Peter climbed this in thin conditions in late January 2016. We found it to be fun and engaging with a crux just below the routes top-out at the Col des Pélerins. What follows is a quick route description and some gear beta.
From what is admittedly a very limited amount of experience, there’s one thing about first ascents which stands out to me. Perhaps I do have a shred of paternal instinct and it’s finally kicking in, but in many ways, I find a first ascent to be akin to having a child (again, limited experience).
It’s a fraught process, into which you invest a significant part of yourself. More than anything, a first ascent is a journey: a formative journey replete with angst, joy, relief and a small shred of pride.