Tuesday, 21 October 2008

In search of the perfect plan

Aspiring, no Nelson Lakes, no Mount Sefton, no Mitre Peak, climbing, kayaking, tramping, pancakes!!! Clearly this trip was going to be epic!
On Saturday after lectures finished Dave, Ian and I were due to leave at 6 am from chch to drive to Wanaka and walk into Colin Todd hut on mount aspiring - sleep for a few hours and then have a very long summit day. After all 3 of us slept in a little, and got scared off by a front coming thru we went back to chch to make new plans. After deciding on nothing but still going to each of our houses 3 times to pick up extra gear (and another person Allie) we headed south with the current but ever changing plan of climbing Mitre Peak. After more muking around - getting free breakfast and lunch at r&r we eventually headed off. Sun set as we traveled thru Dunedin so we got to Te Anau reasonabley late. On the way down I had been txting a teacher at Fiordland College trying to hire some kayaks for the trip across to the start of Mitre Peak. Due to the 11pmedness and her being away the request didn't go down very well. So we went to bed not having kayaks and realized it would be very foolish to get all the way to Milford and hope to run into someone there! In the morning Ian felt like being sick so we thought the mountain was really out. So we took the leisurely tourist approach - got into homer hut and then couldn't decide whether to go for a walk up to Barrier Knob, a climb at the Babylon craig or a quick run up the Gertrude Valley followed by a possible climb. In the end the run won out - except Dave just bought 3 ice axes and a couple of pairs of crampons.... so at the head of the valley we started heading up the snow in our cross trainers! We made it to the saddle easily enough, and got some sweet views. Blisters added to the sense of achievment honest! Tip from the wiser here tho - Don't where crampons on running shoes!
Then we drove through to Milford - coasting engineless from the top of the tunnel to almost Milford Sound, took some touristy photos of the mountain we didn't climb then came back to Te Anau.
Then on Monday we had a huge pancake day before going to Manapouri for an afternoon of climbing at the freestone rock craig. Nice 17 called Gardners Edge was done and enjoyed by all. Its Tuesday as I type this out, Pancakes are being prepared and the plan is Ferg for dinner in Queenstown before heading to Wanaka for a walk into Aspiring hut...

A trip into Aspiring National Park 21st - 24th October 2008

Day 1 (Te Anau -> Queenstown -> Wanaka -> Aspiring Hut)
So leaving Te Anau around mid afternoon on Tuesday we drove north,
at Queenstown we visited the famous ferg burger. As always it was delicious!
Arrived in Wanaka just before it got dark, went to my uncles house to talk to
him about this Mount Aspiring business. We then packed up all our junk and took what we didn't need out and drove to Raspberry flat (the road end). At this point it was rather dark so we busted out the head torches and walked for just under two hours to get to Aspiring Hut in the valley. At the hut we had brilliant sleeping positions beside great windows and I spent far to long just star gazing.

Day 2 (Aspiring Hut -> Beven Col -> Colin Todd Hut)
A nice early start with us leaving the hut by half 8, a bit of a slog up the valley got us to a waterfall at the very head for lunch. After this things started to get interesting!
For one we had to get up onto the snow - this involved a wee scramble up some very loose rock with heavy packs on. Wasn't to bad in reality, but the party took a wee while to all get up to the snow a whole 15 meters or so higher. Ian and I took a route to the right on some large slabs of rock covered in snow grass - while Dave took Allie up the guts of the stream. Unfortunately Ian and I were getting further and further away - and it was getting steeper on really slippery snow covered snow grass. So eventually we realized we had to down climb this brilliant stuff, can't say that was very fun - I had crampons on so front pointed down the dirt under all the crap. Got right back down to the bottom then chased Dave and Allie up the creek bed. A lot more uphill following the stream followed until there was a point where we had to climb rock again - Allie managed to loose her gloves at this point, but we were up! Well kinda, we were out of the gully but not in a good spot as far as avalanches are concerned... Dave lead us up a spur that took us higher and up to a very prominent snow arrete. After climbing round the bottom of that we kept heading up - eventually getting up to Beven Col. This overlooks the Bonar Glacier which we then proceeded to rope up for and cross. A steady pace gets us at Colin Todd hut in no time at all.
At the hut is a guided climber, after clarifing what the summit really takes - Allie and I decide we don't have enough experience to safely climb up. Personally for me finding out that there was ice climbing involved on "The Ramp" put me off - this section is always underestimated by seasoned climbers and is the scene of multiple fatalities yearly. So when I heard that my first ice climb was going to be soloing this... I really wanted some more practise before that kind of behavior went on!

Day 3 (Colin Todd Hut -> French Ridge Hut (Via Mount Aspiring for Ian and Dave)
So Ian and Dave got up at 3am and trudged off to climb Mount Aspiring. I went to allot of effort to watch their progress through the window - I saw them summit at 8.30am and start the long decent back to the hut. Allie and I went out for some basic snow craft instruction. Then many cups of tea later and me nervously watching them descend the ramp they got to a relatively safe spot above the glacier. Once they got back and had a cuppa tea they laid down for a quick sleep before we packed up and roped up ready for the long travel up the glacier to french ridge. This was cold! Eventually after finding every bit of uphill possible we could see back down the valley again. The much missed till this point Bum slide was finally realized and so the trip was hailed as a huge success. French Ridge Hut was as always awesome, and we had an amazing meal of pasta, cheese, salami and the brilliant for burnt lips curry powder.

Day 4 (French Ridge Hut -> Christchurch)
With all the best intentions of starting walking by 7am - we got going about 10am and walked down the steep root mangled french ridge. A wee paddle crossing the river at the bottom was pleasent on hot tired feet. A long slog back to the car and then a flat tire + swim in wanaka made the day a tad more memorable...

So all in all this was another epic adventure for all involved, I know I enjoyed myself!