Ben Mangan, Lionel Clay, James Hobson
With the freezing level rapidly rising all over the Southern Alps – it was time to grab the climbing shoes and our sun hats and seek out some alpine rock, staying as far away from the slushy spring snow as we could. Dasler Pinnacles up the Hopkins Valley ticked all the boxes.
James and I met Lionel at the end of the sealed road and packed into his truck for the bouncy ride up the Hopkins – making it almost to the Red Hut. 2 hours later and we had made it to our bivy spot at the saddle between the 1330 and the 1840 spot points. Our plan was to climb a route up the obvious corner that leads up to the buttress on the east face.
We started off early on Sunday and made it up through the tussocks and patches of soft slushy spring snow before it got too hot. Lionel tuck the first pitches once we had scrambled around to the slaby rock leading up to the large corner system on the buttress. 3 pitches in and the quality of the rock stopped us in our tracks - large blocks of loose rock littered the traves rail out to the main buttress. We decided to retreat down and try get around the corner system by staying more on the face. Once on the main face, we climbed up through some less chossy rock – picking the line of least resistance up to the buttress.
Making short pitches allowed us to position our belay stations so that we were never directly underneath the climber – protecting us from any falling rock. As we climbed the steepness eased and we topped out at 7pm. We descended via the north ridge as the sun was going down, avoiding any steep snow terrain that had been in the sun all day which was releasing small point breaks.
Gear: Small alpine rack, with single cams from .75 up to size 3
Time: Approach 2 hours from the Hopkins valley to the base of the climb
Climb: 9 pitches