Les Drus is the most impressive granite monolith overlooking the Chamonix Valley. Often you will catch a glance of the intimidating, dark rock peak from the opposite sunny side of the valley, and its a wonder that this face would be so alluring. This winter in Chamonix has been unusually dry, the mountains are devoid of ice, every new snow fall brings dry snow that fattens the ski-fields, but blows off the steep mountain faces. So instead of lamenting it, we embraced it, and set about blunting our tools and crampons on 850m of granite dry tooling up the North Face of the Petit Dru.
In mid-September 2018 I teamed up with Tim Elson, a member of the newly invigorated Alpine Climbing Group in the UK, for an expedition to the Brammah Glacier in Jammu and Kashmir, India. We'd identified two amazing looking objectives: the 1600m high North Spur of a 6100m peak called Flat Top, and the South Face of the Kishtwar Eiger, a peak various recorded as somewhere between 5600m and 6000m depending on the map.
It is with great sadness we report the passing of a member of our team, Caleb Jennings. Caleb was a great climbing partner & friend to the team, he was incredibly strong, fit and reliable on trips but also a gentle man who always exercised sound judgement in the mountains.
Born and raised in Canterbury, Caleb was introduced into the mountains at a young age where he spent most of his youth hunting and tramping in the Southern Alps.
This year I experienced a number of accidents, medical illnesses and burnouts that prevented me from climbing for weeks at a time. As an obsessed climber whose life is centred on climbing this was a real challenge for me. I have learnt so much this past year including acceptance, coping with highs and lows and having to deal with low climbing psyche.
‘The Promise’ Grade VI, 6+ (WI4, M5+, A0), 700m.
On the Southwest Face of Mt Percy Smith (2465m), solo first ascent, Ben Dare, October 7, 2018.
The New Zealand Alpine Team are proud to announce that Tim Macartney-Snape, Lionel Clay and Allan Uren will be joining the NZAT in an Advisory Mentor role.
Tim, Lionel and Allan are three of Australasia’s most accomplished alpine climbers. They each have a wealth of experience spanning a number of decades, and the knowledge and expertise that they will bring to the NZAT is invaluable.
The Integral ridge spanning the Flames De Pierre to Aiguille Verte should be one of the iconic Chamonix alpine climbs. Over the course of 5 days, Daniel Joll, Chris Warner and Alastair McDowell traversed the granite skyline ridge connecting Les Flammes de Pierre, Les Drus, Aiguille Sans Nom and Aiguille Verte, descending via the Moine Ridge to Couvercle Refuge.
The Ministry of Silly Walks - MC5+, WI4, M4, 800m
Rose Pearson and Sam Waetford have followed in Caleb and Kim's foot steps to climb another new route on the Sheila face of Mount Cook. Rose and Sam had been watching the weather hoping the high would continue through the weekend as Sam wasn't flying in from Australia till midday on Friday. They had three days before the weather broke, and decided to aim for the Sheila after hearing it was in good condition from Kim and Caleb on the way down to MCNP.
We are excited to announce that NZAT members Caleb Jennings and Kim Ladiges have climbed what is arguably the last plum unclimbed line on Aoraki Mount Cook.
Caleb and Kim left Empress hut around midnight on the 5th of September arriving back to Empress 24 hours later having completed the first ascent of the direct line. They named the route "Pilgrim", which goes at a grade of MC6, WI5, M6, 750M. The crux pitch involved a difficult detached ice pillar, with steep moves pulling over a small roof bulge.
The South Face of Mt Hutton (2820m) at the head of the Cass Valley in Tekapo received its first ascent on Sunday 26th August 2018 by three members of the New Zealand Alpine Team, Caleb Jennings, Rose Pearson and Alastair McDowell. Both the ascent and descent was illuminated by a full moon, casting a huge shadow across the face as they approached, and making headlamps unnecessary on the descent as the Southern Alps glowing around them, so they named the route 'Moonshadow' (MC 5+, 500m).