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.
‘Elysium’ Grade VI, 6 (AI5), 750m.
On the South Face of Mt Suter (2094m) in the Darran Mountains, solo first ascent, Ben Dare, July 12, 2018.
Sometimes the best adventures are those that we don’t plan for. The ones where we set out on a whim. Without specific goals or objectives, and without the burden of expectation. These are the adventures where spontaneity is king and where we open ourselves up to possibilities not previously considered.
Yosemite Valley saw a true Kiwi invasion this spring season, swarming to the most famous big walls in the world. Our attention in this expedition was unequivocally focused on the greatest of them all, El Capitan. Over the course of the month, our group would go on to climb the Motherstone by six different routes, for a total of 15 El Cap ascents between them.
Yosemite was the second of the NZ Alpine Team’s official training trips, the first being Canadian Rockies. These two destinations are the most convenient for kiwi climbers looking to gain mileage & experience ice climbing and big wall climbing as a foundation for larger alpine objectives.
After our first exhausting failed effort on Punta Herron, our motivation for a second attempt was drained, none of us thought we would be returning anytime soon. This was our main objective, but the thought of repeating the twelve-pitch approach traverse beneath Standhardt only to find Punta Herron unclimbable again was a risk our sore bodies dreaded, now four weeks into the trip. But spotting the bone-dry north ridge of Punta Herron from Mermoz rejuvenated our psych, and after five days of Chalten extravagance we were rearing for a second attempt.
The following outlines our acclimatization schedule, climbing equipment and clothing used for an ascent of the North Face of Cholatse. You can find a video of the ascent here
12 ice screws , various sizes but with two stubby screws
Single set of cams, green C3 - #2 Camalot
Single set of wires #1 – 7
4 x pins , 2 knife blades and two angles
Salathe Baby! There were people everywhere! Coming up underneath us, rapping down on top of us, jugging fixed ropes and haul bags from every angle. Freerider is a 3 pitch variant of the famous Salathe Wall on the south-west face of El Capitan. It has become an incredibly popular route, and after climbing it you can see why!
I recently snuck off from a social tramping trip to the Copland Hot Pools to make a solo ascent of the West Ridge of Mt Sefton. The easiest route on Mt Sefton (MC 2+), the West Ridge provides a straightforward snow climb from Welcome Pass. The route either follows the reasonably level Douglas Neve to where a final snowslope leads to the summit, or else a much more interesting and crevasse free option involves gaining the ridge crest shortly after Welcome Pass and sidling a beautiful sharp snow ridgeline until the final summit slope.
Eyeing the next thin slot above, I jammed my fingers in deep and wedged them into the constriction. Far above my last piece of protection, I reached for the silver cam on my harness that would fit inside the crack, before suddenly noticing a rusted piton in the granite to my right. Hammered to the hilt and likely fifty years old. I tried to imagine myself in the footsteps of Fred Beckey, and Yvon Chouinard, questing up the 2000 foot west buttress of the South Howser tower, way back in 1961.
My legs hung over the edge. Daisy chains reined me in taught to the wall. I reeled myself back onto the ledge, shortening the tethers with my fifi hook. A bout of cramp surged through my dehydrated legs. I jerked stiff and straight, hamstrings tingling where the harness dug in, then slumped back over the edge and waited for dawn to arrive over Camp V. Only seven pitches remained between us and the summit plateau of El Capitan.
What is the New Zealand Alpine Team?
The New Zealand Alpine Team is an initiative of the Expedition Climbers Club Inc. that represents a new concept for climbing in this country. It is born of a desire to support and encourage aspiring young Kiwi alpinists looking to improve their mountain skills. Some of New Zealand's best alpine climbers have volunteered their time to mentor a future generation of alpinists. In doing so, we are hoping to help a group of young climbers to learn valuable skills and knowledge that might have otherwise taken them many more years to acquire.