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.
In early December Reg Measures teamed up with visiting climber Tim Elson to link some classic face and ridge routes in a rapid traverse of New Zealand's two highest peaks. They found excellent conditions on White Dream (S Face of Aoraki/Mt.Cook) and the Syme and Silberhorn Ridges (Mt. Tasman/Horokoau) but slower blue ice conditions on the summit ridges.
The Eiger North Face is one of the classic alpine routes in the world. Long, steep, committing and a story made famous by books like The White Spider and Clint Eastwoods movie the Eiger Sanction, it is a must do climb for many alpinists. There is much written about the North Face of the Eiger and also some excellent topos available online. I thought however it might be good to share the climbing gear we took with us for a winter ascent.
"One of the classic climbs in the Alps,” says Allan Uren in the Mt Aspiring Guidebook of the South West Ridge of Mt Aspiring. It has been on my ‘top-priority list’ of climbs for an embarrassingly long time, one to do at the first available opportunity. I don’t know why 5 years has gone by since I last went up Mt Aspiring, but it might be that we have so much good climbing in New Zealand and every time a high pressure system comes along, there is too much to choose from.