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.
The New Zealand Alpine Team is spending three weeks ice climbing in the Canadian Rockies around Canmore, Alberta this February.
Follow this blog to see what we get up to!
In 2018 I was standing around on top of El Capitan with Jon Seddon a fellow Kiwi and my climbing partner for that particular trip. It was my second attempt on Free Rider with Jon. Earlier in the year my first attempt ended with a dislocated shoulder in the offwidth above El Cap Spire. We were sorting our haul bags and having a quick chat with Adam Ondra who was doing a photo shoot. We had just finished our attempt on Free Rider which had gone well but ultimately we had both fallen a couple of times. Adam asked me dead pan: "Why didn’t you just try again?" I laughed, we did!
Peru and the Cordillera Blanca must have the most easily accessed 6000m peaks in the world. It’s possible to be at a base camp for a peak the same day you leave town. It’s also a cheap country to travel in and climbing requires no peak fees. The dry winter season also has stable weather giving us a good chance of getting up high.
Another serac rips from the summit ice cliffs of neighbouring Mount Dickey, and the familiar roar of avalanche thunders through the valley. My calves shake on crumbling footholds, the infamous “Cracker Jack Gravel” of the Ruth Gorge.
I’m balanced on an arete well above my last piece. I reach for a pecker piton and weld it into a thin crack with my free hand, tightening my crimp on the other. I launch into the corner above, loaded with tottering loose flakes.
September 30, 2018, NZAT members Kim Ladiges and Matthew Scholes flew into Nepal for a 6 week expedition with the primary objective being the south face of Gangapurna, 7455m. Here Matt Scholes recounts his and Kim's journey to attempt this huge 1500 metre face in the Annapurna Massif.
The Manaslu Circuit - Acclimatisation Trek
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.
A multi-pitch ice climbing crag located at the head of Twenty Five Mile Creek – a tributary of the Rees River.
This was an area first spotted during a scenic flight in the winter of 2016, but wasn’t properly explored until June of 2018 when three routes were climbed. The cirque at the head of the Twenty Five Mile Creek catchment sits directly below Twenty Five Mile Saddle and contains at least ten separate ice lines. Including the main flow of Twenty Five Mile Falls - a 100m WI4 route. This is marked as the 98m waterfall on the topographic map.
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.