On the 17th - 18th of October we held the trials for the 2016-2019 intake for the New Zealand Alpine Team. Nine candidates are competing for three-year mentored positions in the NZAT, and eight of them came from all over New Zealand to meet in Queenstown for a weekend of cardio, climbing and mental assessments. It was the first time we've held trials, having selected the 2013-2016 team based on mountaineering CV and interview alone. We think that the trials were a great way to objectively analyse the applicants, all of whom are climbing at a high level already - and we reckon in a few years the standard for the trials will be even higher!
15 months ago I was recovering from surgery repairing my shattered ankle. Painkillers caused insomnia and vivid dreams featuring movie like action sequences with a touch of mythology and other absurdity. I would wake, sweaty, shaken, thinking 'that was a bit weird'.
Currently there are two established dry tooling crags in Queenstown. Both of these are located at the Kelvin Heights end of the Kelvin Heights - Jacks Point Trail. When walking from Kelvin Heights the first crag you come across is the Den of Iniquity. It is on the right hand side of the trail as you walk towards Jacks Point overlooking the lake. The top of this crag can be seen when your standing at the second of the green bench seats. As seen below. It takes arounds ten minutes to reach the Den. Look for the climbers trail on the right hand side of the crag.
As I sit in my 9 a.m. Biological Chemistry lecture on Monday morning, I can barely grip a pen due to eviscerated finger tips, nor can I focus due to being in the car for the 18 hours prior in order to make my first lecture of the semester. Nonetheless, I’m still beaming from ear to ear from the stunning, (if somewhat insane) three day trip down to the Darrans.
Some experiences are so much larger than those it precedes, it takes a time before they can be shared. For me, the two weeks I spent climbing in Chamonix with Daniel Joll in August 2014 were such an experience. Not only were the routes we climbed longer and harder than any I had previously climbed, they were also more committing and several were climbed in poor conditions with marginal forecasts. This is why it is only now, 6 months after the end of the trip, that I am finally putting a pen to paper.
First ascent of the South Face of Mt Suter (2094m).
Darrans winter grade VI, 6 (WI5), Ben Dare, Stephen Skelton 19th July 2014.
The man who lives in the mountains is free.
He must be, if he is to go beyond the reaches of the forest, and find his path to the summit.
The man who lives in the mountains is determined.
He pushes through with gritted teeth and an icy beard, because he knows what richness will reward him at the top.
The man who lives in the mountains is patient.
He has to retrace his steps a thousand times over, taking two forward and one back.
The man who lives in the mountains is honest.
They say a climbing partnership is like a relationship, and it’s fairly well established that opposites attract: perhaps that’s why Ari and I worked.
New route on the South-East Face of Ferintsoh Peak (2497m). The route starts up steep ice through the lower rock band, slightly right of centre, before following a vague gully system to finish just right of the crest of the main buttress. 450m, WI4-, M4, alpine grade MC5. Ben Dare solo 8th July 2014
Queenstown is the ideal location to live as a climber in NZ. Close enough to all the major South Island alpine climbing destinations it is perfect for taking advantage of short weather windows and maximising your weekend adventures. Ben Dare and I left home at 6am on Saturday morning with high hopes of a climb on the South Face of Barrier Peak. We were expecting overnight showers to have cleared by the time we reached Homer Hut. Unfortunately this was not the case and light rain greeted us on our arrival.