Alastair became hooked on the outdoors while completing his Duke of Ed in the upper North Island. Tramping spawned into mountain running, and soon after rock climbing and trans-alpine mountaineering. As soon as possible he moved to Christchurch, where he completed trips such as a 30-day alpine traverse of the Southern Alps (Arthurs Pass to Aoraki/Mt Cook), and ascents of some of our grand peaks such as Malte Brun, Aspiring, Aoraki/Mt Cook and Sabre. He has put up several new routes including a 250m granite rock climb in the Paparoas, a new winter line in the Darrans, and the West Ridge of Mt Percy Smith. He then moved to Sydney, where the quality & quantity of rock climbing in the Blue Mountains was put to good use. Alastair also enjoys the odd long suffer-fest such as 5-day adventure races and 24-hour mountain runs. He is now temporarily based in Canmore where he is packing in as much climbing as possible throughout the Canadian Rockies and western USA.
Alastair is part of our second intake of mentored climbers, coming in for the 2016-2019 period. He has already hit the ground running, with a South Face - Grand Traverse linkup on Aoraki/Mt Cook, and the first ascent of the West Ridge of Taulliraju in Peru (with Rose, Reg and Steve), and is looking forward to future mountaineering expeditions with the NZAT.
Ben Dare is a structural engineer based in Queenstown. He is a strong climber on rock, ice and mixed terrain, and enjoys the challenge of taking on technical routes – especially in demanding winter conditions. After starting out alpine climbing on the North Island volcanoes of Ruapehu and Taranaki he moved to Queenstown in 2008 he has progressed rapidly since. In the process developing a passion for climbing in the local ranges, with a main focus on exploring the unknown and targeting new routes.
He has since developed an impressive record of hard new routes in New Zealand and has also climbed and established first ascents in the European Alps, the Chilean Andes and the Khumbu Himalaya in Nepal. This has given him the opportunity to travel to unique corners of the globe and experience new and diverse cultures while climbing abroad. But it has also allowed him to appreciate the wealth of terrain and the opportunities still available to local climbers within New Zealand. And has highlighted the fact that we do not need to look far beyond our own back door step to seek out top international level climbing objectives!
A passionate alpine climber who travels extensively making multiple expeditions to North & South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Daniel has helped establish some of NZ’s hardest winter climbs with multiple water ice and mixed routes of high grades in areas such as Mt Cook, Fiordland and his local alpine area the Remarkables. He also enjoys all forms of rock climbing making multiple trips to the alpine rock and big wall destinations of the world like Patagonia, Bugaboos, Yosemite and Chamonix. Back at home Daniel has helped establish long & challenging rock routes in the Darran Mountains of Fiordland most notably on the Kaipo Wall and South Face of Marian.
David Chen is currently training as secondary school teacher in Mathematics. He is originally from Si Chuan; China and he is interested in ice, mixed and rock climbing. He started skiing when he was 4 years old and then he started getting into tramping and ice climbing. When he was 16, he moved to New Zealand for mountaineering and tertiary study.
He wants to keep gaining experience on all types of terrain and mainly focus on climbing alpine rock, and ice & mixed. He also is looking forward to joining the international expeditions around the world with the NZAT. David is part of our second intake of mentored climbers, coming in for the 2016-2019 period.
Born and bred in Queenstown, Gemma started climbing in 2013 and hasn't looked back since. She studied nursing in Dunedin and loves all types of climbing - sport, trad, mixed, ice and mountaineering - wanting to use them all to climb hard technical routes up mountains.
After finding it hard to find climbing partners who are into technical mountaineering she is psyched to be part of a group who are! Also she thinks that to be mentored by some of the best climbers in NZ is a huge privilege. She is part of our second intake of mentored climbers, coming in for the 2016-2019 period.
Jaz was introduced to the hills tramping in the Tararuas, north of his home in Wellington but didn't take to the mountains seriously until moving to Dunedin in 2008 and joining the Otago University Tramping Club. Long transalpine tramping trips in the Olivine Wilderness and Fiordland led to an interest in mountaineering, and in the last few years Jaz has climbed extensively throughout the Southern Alps.
Since joining the NZAT he has found a passion for ice, mixed and rock climbing, and has managed to scratch out a handful of first ascents in the Fiordland, Remarkables, Mt Aspiring and Mt Cook areas. Internationally, he has climbed in the Canadian Rockies, the Cordillera Blanca (Peru) and in the French Alps around Chamonix. While he is at home climbing frozen turf in the Darrans, his goal is to seek out new climbing opportunities in remote wilderness beyond the Main Divide. Jaz was selected for the New Zealand Alpine Team in 2013.
Jaz is now a 'mentor-in-training' having completed a period of mentoring from 2013 to 2016. During his period as a mentored climber Jaz made several notable ascents including Polar Circus, Canada (WI5) and Alpamayo, Peru.
Jono Clarke is one of NZ's leading ice and mixed climbers. He has been instrumental in pushing the grades of traditionally protected ice and mixed climbs in both the North and South Islands. Jono has made numerous first ascents many focused in and around the Mt Cook Region.
Karl Merry Schimanski
Merry is one of NZ's best trad climbers, having freed world famous routes like Free Rider on El Capitan, and also making a one day free ascent of the regular NWF on Half Dome. Merry has also helped establish NZ's hardest multipitch Weather Spell (30). A solid rock climber who relishes the alpine environment and enjoys transferring his skills to ice and mixed. Merry joins the team to help mentor & provide a valuable link to the up & coming youth potential in our upper north island.
After a lifestyle of travelling the globe climbing and pursuing adventure, he has recently committed to studying para-medicine in Auckland and looks forward to using the time based in one place to hone his alpine skills further with a regular training regime and shared motivation.
Kester is a climbing all-rounder, he has tried out most styles over the years. He prefers rock climbing, and his favourite place to climb in NZ is the Darrans.
These days he sits at a desk editing The Climber (NZ’s climbing magazine) and the New Zealand Alpine Journal, but also still does a bit of climbing and skiing.
Matt is our Australian based mentor for the NZAT. Due to the lack of real mountains in his home country he was forced overseas at an early age making expeditions to Pakistan, Peru, Europe, Patagonia and Alaska. Based in the Blue Mountains near Sydney Matt gets plenty of time out rock climbing at his local crags. Matt honed his ice climbing and big wall climbing skills in North America and has also made many trips to NZ for climbing in the Southern Alps.