More like the Learning Curver ! Lighter packs and a better looking weather window had myself and Lionel walking up the Hooker for the second time in a couple of months with the South face of Hicks on our minds. After seeing the epic trip Al and Ben had we just wanted to go and check it out for ourselves!
Accompanied by Elliot and Luke doing all sorts of things I would never have guessed you could (or should?) do in a stock standard Grand Vitara, the sunny, braided, Godley river valley passed by in a rocky montage of dotterels, geese, paradise ducks, and the inevitable ever-present grey and orange rocks. On reaching the lake at the head of the valley, we portaged gear across this last undriveable stretch and settled comfortably into Godley Hut.
The great virus of 2020 dealt a sweeping blow to anyone planning an overseas expedition. With our plans to travel to the Himalaya cancelled, the lockdown forced us to consider how we could exert an expedition-scale effort here in our backyard, the Southern Alps.
Developing new routes is a highly rewarding and often time consuming activity. Motivations for doing it range from from the personal challenge of opening big lines on unclimbed walls to developing your local crag. Personally I have usually decided to open a new route when I am looking for my own challenge rather than the desire to establish routes for others to climb. I really enjoy the excitement of running it out above my gear on unclimbed terrain, not knowing what's coming next. For me this is the most challenging form of climbing where you can put your skills to the test.
An issue well known to Petzl Nomics (and some other models of ice axe) is the tendency for the heads to loosen and develop movement over time. This is mostly due to the design – the head of the axe is held in by a single rivet. Over time the press fit between the head and the shaft gets looser. As there is only a single rivet the head can rotate around this and the overall effect is a wobbly or moving head.
The lead up to the Remarkables Ice and Mixed Festival is always an intensely satisfying, full on week for the NZAT. Day after day we head up the mountain, getting in a wide variety of different climbing partners and climbing styles. By virtue of being up there every day, as the weather changes through the week we also often climb in a wide range of conditions.
First ascent of the South Face of Pyramid Peak (2295m) – Ben Dare (solo), July 2020.
'Frost Flower', Grade 6- (M5, WI4), VI, (1200m).
A couple of days of high pressure were forecast; the weather window looked like it was wide enough to sneak through on Tuesday. Gavin sent out a call – could anyone make it down for a climb? As the forecast updated however, the incoming cold front looked set to sweep through sooner than we’d thought. Early on Saturday morning we decided to shift the climb a day sooner to match. I had to get down to Wanaka! I cancelled my Saturday plans and quickly rolled out of bed, threw an assortment of gear in my overworked car and hit the road. Objective: the South Face of Tititea/Aspiring.
The Macpac New Zealand Alpinist of the Year awards are judged over the 12-month period that follows the previous year’s Remarkables Ice and Mixed Festival. The awards recognise the best alpine climbs during a one year period, taking into account style, difficulty and creativity of the ascent. The award is open to all New Zealand citizens and Expedition Climbers Club members for climbs completed in New Zealand or overseas. This year's awards ceremony will take place in August at the Ice and Mixed Festival in Queenstown, NZ.
Team member Jaz Morris along with Ruari Macfarlane and Maddy Whittaker recently made the first recorded ascent of an often-looked-at line on the south face of Joffre Peak in the West Matukituki Valley.
Going at grade 5, III (WI4 crux) and seven 60-70 m pitches (450 m total) in length, the route “Antics” makes a great direct approach to Colin Todd Hut! The route name references the annual journal of the Otago University Tramping Club (of which Maddy and Jaz have both been President) and the long connection of the OUTC to the valley.