GW w/Groomer left on Tasman
Glacier from 70's skiplane run-way work at Climbers Col. Since
being abandoned it's moved about 5klm. in 30 years down to Malte
Aoraki/Mt. Cook - 12349 Expedition 22-24 Nov. 2013
Mid-summer-like on Cook, Dawn 24 Nov.2013
A 2 day weather window enabled enable Geoff W and
Brian Weedon to lead an Otago University team (2) to Mt. Cook,
summating at 11am on Sat 23rd Nov. (Geoff's 27th ascent).
A steep, narrow bridge across
a major schrund in the upper Linda glacier. photo:GW
Brian leads steep 1st gully from the Linda Ice Shelf to Summit
Geoff on top of Summit Rocks and Ice Cap - photo:
At 12.20pm a size 4 Ice Serac avalanche (100,000tonnes?) swept
through the Upper Linda glacier filling the "problem?" schrund
to the delight? of climbers desiring access onto the peak. Close
encounters with large avalanches is a terrifying experience. My
ski poles and spare waterbottle were left for convenience at the
schund for 8hrs and are now buried!
Geoff & Brian - their last big climb was the East
Face of Mt. Cook in Dec. 1991 -
7 days before it's massive avalanche. (see below)
The risk to climbers from large avalanches?
One of the Mt. Cook SAR team recalled to me yesterday, that 2 of
them were traversing under the Empress Ice Shelf on the West
side of Cook earlier this week, when at 3am in the darkness a
huge roar started above them. For a few terrifying minutes they
expected to become engulfed in an icy torrent. Luckily it swept
The probability of climber
involvement in a large avalanche event is dependent several
factors including the length of exposure, frequency of
avalanches and traffic. Ice Serac or Rockfall failure can happen
at any time of the day, but may be influenced by precipitation,
lubrication and temperature changes.
Last summer's Mt. Dixon
rockfall avalanche (see below)swept through the Grand Plateau narrowly
missing the Plateau hut.
Inspite of the intimidating series of ice serac paths from the
Gun-barrels, North Face/Mt. Cook, the Ice Shelf cliffs,
Vancouver and Tiechelman corner, the longest path is in the
lower Linda where cliffs on Graham and Silberhorn sweep snow out
into the Grand Plateau.
There may have been about 6
climbers caught by avalanches in the Linda glacier in the past
100 years. The 1st three fatalities occurred in 1914 when an
avalanche off Mt. Vancouver buried King, Richmond and Thompson.
Probably over 200 people travel through the glacier each season
puts the risk level into a low-moderate risk perspective.
To paraphrase Ed la Chapelle:
"It's not the large avalanche isolated
avalanche I worry about, but the one I trigger myself !"
Early melt-down in Anna Glacier on Eli de Beaumont during
November 2013. Recent warm temps and rain appear to be the
cause. Critical crevasse access/cut-off appears to be 2weeks in
ahead of 2012:
Anna glacier 07 Nov 2013 photo: Neil Robinson
Anna Gl. crevasse
18Nov2013/Steep, exposed access under Mt. Walter - just! p:GW
Eye/Ear candy? Music Link:
Video clip - A bizarre musical road trip through spectular U.S.
National Parks as backdrop to Rapper Kayne West & KimK. Option:
turn sound down & watch background
http:// Rapper Kayne West KimK & US Nat Parks video
The change of an era -
GW celebrates last and first tracks with Fig.8's at Cardrona
Alpine resort as the company changes from Vealls to Real
09 Nov - 1700hrs
Climber out of
Coma Extract from
"A Christchurch mountaineer who fell 300m down the
Cameron Glacier in the Arrowsmith Range has woken up
from her coma. Heather Rhodes, 36, was taken to
hospital after she fell last Sunday, with serious
head injuries and two broken legs. She has been in
the intensive care unit since then.
She woke up yesterday, said a family member who
asked not to be named, and apparently the first
thing she said was that she wanted her mother. She
was in a critical but stable condition. "
08 Nov: Arrowsmiths/ Cameron Glacier
accident details released
Heather Rhodes, a experienced Canterbury climber
fell 300m when an abseil anchor failed on a climb in the
Arrowsmiths on Sunday 03 Nov.
Heather sustained serious head and leg injuries and evacuated in
a difficult night-time rescue by her 2 companions and Rescue
helicopter with NVG capability.
Geoff W has met
Heather on a couple of occasions, most recently at Mt. Cook
Airport 12mths ago, when both were leaving on separate
ski-mountaineering trips. We discussed her recent ascent of
Avalanche peak with her Dad with fondness. I wish her and family
well in this difficult and tenuous time as Heather struggles to
overcome the life threatening injuries.
photo: John Rhodes
Extract from NZ Herald/Stuff.co.nz
Critically-injured mountaineer Heather Rhodes is
in a coma at Christchurch Hospital after a South Island climbing
Rhodes, 36, suffered serious head injuries and broke both legs
in a 300 metre fall on the Cameron Glacier in the Arrowsmith
Range last Sunday (03 Nov.2013)
John Rhodes, her Greytown-based father, said his daughter had
been unconscious since her fall.
''It is really just an unknown quantity. Her body has various
injuries - particularly a very damaged leg, and there is a head
injury. We do not have a good understanding of how serious it
is,'' he said.
He said he and his wife were both keen trampers and
introduced their children to the outdoors at an early age.
"Heather has certainly taken tramping to another level." His
daughter had no partner or children, but ''heaps'' of friends.
He had been charged with keeping everyone updated on her
Rhodes, who last worked as an instructor for the army
leadership centre based at Burnham Military Camp, was climbing
with two other companions - Vaughan Snowdon and Simon Bell.
A spokesman for Westpac Rescue Helicopter told The Press
the trio were descending at the time of the accident. It was
about 6.30pm and Rhodes' companions believed her snow anchor
failed while she was abseiling down a steep pitch. They saw her
fall past them and found her unconscious and badly injured
below, after down-climbing to her without ropes. They activated
a personal locator beacon and placed her in a tent to keep her
warm while waiting for help.
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) picked up
the beacon's signal that night and called in the rescue
helicopter with their approximate location in the upper reaches
of the Rakaia River. Both the pilot and one of the two
paramedics on board were armed with night goggles, finally
spotting the beacon's strobe andthe climbers' head torches about
Conditions proved too dangerous to winch the woman to safety
because of the steep and unknown terrain. They were forced to
land on the opposite side of the glacier instead. One of the
climbers met the chopper, before guiding the paramedics about 40
minutes in darkness across deep snow and ice to Rhodes.
05 Nov 2013
ANNAPURNA SOUTH FACE - SOLO
From the web site of Ueli Steck:
On October 9, 2013 at 05.30
am we started. Dan Patitucci and Jonah, Don Bowie and I. We
moved to the foot of the face. Dan Patitucci and Jonah are
responsible for the pictures.
Finally all just fit. The weather was ok, but the wind was quite
strong. Don Bowie, my parnter, decided at the Bergschrund not
enter the face. He said that it was technically too demanding to
climb the face without rope. And this is the basic premise for
such a route. From the Bergschrund I climbed alone.
At the first moment it was difficult for me to switch on
soloing. But the good conditions helped me to quickly get
focussed on the climbing. Once more everything just fit. At 6100
meters we had placed some equipment. The weeks before we had
acclimatized ourselves in the face and we had placed rope, tent,
cooker and something to eat up there.
I packed the tent and the cooker in my backpack. The rope I left
there, since I had a 6mm reep rope with me, which I took with me
from the ABC. I left the sleeping bag because of weight reasons
together wit gas and food an existing rope and fixed it at a
The ascent to the headwall was relatively easy. From 6600 meters
on I had wind and spindrifts. I climb until below the headwall.
Here I wanted to build my tent and wait. I had different
possibilities: To wait until the wind got less and I could
continue to climb or I would descend the day after.
Since I did not find a protected place I started to descend. 100
meters below I found a crevice. It turned out to be a perfect
bivouac place and I could place my tent sheltered from wind and
spindrifts. Now I ate and drunk a lot. In the meantime the sun
had gone. And everything calmed down. This I noticed also the
evening before from ABC. And it was again exactly the same. Fast
it darkened and it was calm. This was my chance.
I was sure that the following day the wind would turn on again.
So this was my only chance to reach the summit during the night.
The headwall was a line of ice and firn. So it would be possible
to the way in the night.
Approx. one hour after I reached the bivouac I continued my
climbing. During short passages the ice/firn was quite thin and
a couple of times I had to climb in the rock. The steepness was
surprisingly not really vertical, only a couple of uplifts were
vertical. So it was the ideal solo terrain.
As long as I could climb I was extremely efficient. This I had
in my mind all the time. The thin air at 7000 meters is not yet
death zone. At this height I could move quite easily. Only the
cold was a problem.
A couple of hours before at daylight I wanted to photograph the
headwall in order to have an overview picture at night. A was
hidden by a spindrift. I could only get grasp my ice gear in
order not get knocked out of the wall. In this way I lost one of
my down glove and my camera was thrown out of the wall. Now I
had to climb with my finger gloves. The down glove which was
left I wore once at my left hand and then at my right hand -
depending on the cold of each hand.
The headwall presented itself shorter that I thought. Difficult
to say how many pitches, since I did not use the rope.
Instinctively I was at the upper end quite fast. Here I realized
for the first time, where I really was and what this would mean.
Now I was just a beat against the wind.
Step by step I moved on. I kept telling me "Just fight, just
fight". Again and again. When I reached the summit ridge I could
hardly believe it. It was night, the sky full of stars and the
ridge going down in front of me.
With my altimeter I checked everything very carefully, I
followed the ridge and I knew: I was on highest point.
I spent not even 5 minutes up there before I started to descend.
I was still full under tension. My goal was to reach the
Bergschrund. Then everything would be fine!
Tenji, Don and Dan meet me at the glacier. They had followed me
the entire time while I was climbing. Now they came towards me.
Tenji had a Coke, bread and an apple for me.
It is simply great. I made it. Everything is over now. From now
the others make the decisions. The tension get less.
On October 10, 2013 at 09.30 am we all are back at base camp.
the Edge" - ***
The docu/movie about Ed Hillary's build-up to the 1953 Everest
1st ascent is now in the movie houses. It's a well put together
NZ film by Leanne Poole and makes good use of Ed's voice and
Highlights? Original ascent footage use; the 360deg view from
the Summit and familiar backdrops in the Tasman Glacier.
re-visited in new book?
News that Mawson may have eaten more than dog would come as
no surprise to the Arctic Inuits and be considered a non-event.
In fact the dogs which were shot were completed stuffed and
would have had little nutritional value. More interestingly,
Mawson ate their livers and got Vit. A poisioning resulting in
the soles of his feet peeling off! Ask any Teen with achne about
ro-acutane and it's skin peeling effect.
Extract from "Stuff"
Australia's polar hero, Douglas Mawson, survived an epic
Antarctic ordeal after he deliberately starved his surviving
companion to death and possibly ate him, a new book suggests.
Mawson's defining feat was to survive a 560-kilometre ice
trek in 1912-13 that killed his two fellow explorers, Belgrave
Ninnis, who fell into a crevasse with much of their food and
equipment, and Xavier Mertz, who died in the struggle to get
back to home camp.
The man who was pictured on the first $100 note may have
calculated there was insufficient food left for both him and
Mertz to reach their base after the loss of Ninnis,
Melbourne-based historian David Day says.
Day suggests that Mawson put himself and Mertz on starvation
rations, calculating his companion would succumb first, and
leaving Mawson with enough food to make it back.
Day's book Flaws in the Ice also says that a weakened Mawson
may have boiled and eaten Mertz's flesh to gain strength.
The South Australian Museum's senior collections manager,
Mark Pharaoh, said competitive starvation would have been a
strange strategy for Mawson. "It seems a little illogical and
dangerous," Pharaoh said. "Mertz was a phenomenally tough
character. One doesn't know if you are going to be the winner."
ANU history professor Tom Griffiths said Day's claim amounted
to unwarranted speculation. "Mawson actually dragged Mertz on a
sled until it was too painful to carry on."
Recommended Blog site:
The Utah Avalanche Center, run by Bruce Tremper,
is a great source of current avalanche information and
discussion. Check out their
Air-Bag survival statistics. The bags are effective tools, but
the survival statistics used by various sources overstate their
Bruce discusses survival and non-survivable avalanche terrain
and protection device use.
See Extract by Bruce Tremper: MtnRec -
Weather & Snow
Mt Aspiring Trek Option
05-03-13: Rafting down the Clutha river the
day after a Mt. Aspiring Trek by Wayatt family, Julia, Chris,
Theo and Hebe visiting from Squamish, Canada. See:
Mt Aspiring Treks
Paragliding Southern Alps Expeditioners
Two Euro Paragliders are
currently attempting to fly and walk the length of the Sthn Alps
from Mavora Lakes to Nelson. Geoff W and Chris M met Tom de
Dorlodot, a 27yr old Belgium and Ferdinand Van Schelven (28,
Netherlands) on 29 Jan. at tree-line in the E. Matuki resting in
a shady creek and looking for a thermal to take them Nth. down
the Albertburn towards Makarora. Towards the end of our own 4
day/3 Glacier/U.V Expedition, we were spell-bound to chat
briefly to two adventurers intent on riding air-currents linked
by extended and serious walking to gain suitable take-offs.
Today their live tracking system shows them in the Dobson valley
one range short of Mt. Cook.
29-02-2013 Aspiring Multi-day/multi-sport
biking across 3 glaciers: the Bonar, the Therma plus Lower &
aka: 2013 U.V. (Upper Volta) Expedition aka:
Following 3-4 previous attempt to visit and traverse the Therma
& Volta glaciers to the north of Aspiring Geoff W invited Chris
M. to join him on a photographic expedition and complete a trip
through previous personally untraveled alpine terrain
in late Jan. 2013.
On the map the traverse involved over 45klms plus 3 serious
problems to negotiate: The Therma glacier plus the drop-off into
the Lower Volta; access onto the Upper Volta and the descent off
Ruth Ridge into the E. Matukituki valley. Seasonal and glacier
changes posed serious question-marks as to whether we could
complete the circuit. A settled, fine weather spell was
required. On 25 Jan it arrived:
distance on map & 3250m of climbing & 3200m of descent
Aspiring & Therma glacier.(Lower Volta route: Leads off low
snowslope (ctr) down steep, remnant rockslide.)
Day 1: Wanaka to Shovel
Day 2: Shovel Flat to Shipowner Ridge bivi (2100m)
Day 3: Shipowner Ridge/ LowerVolta(1400m)
Fastness bivi (1800m)
Day 4: Fastness shoulder/ Volta G/ Ruth Ridge (2100m) to Ruth
Day 5: Ruth Flat to Cameron Flat/ bike to Raspberry Flat/ Wanaka
Upper Matuki Valley. Alpine flowers abound. Day walk by Mt.
Hector Col/Slabs waterfall. Source of Clutha River, NZ's largest
river/Can be viewed on Mt. Aspiring Treks day trip from Shovel
North Ridge, Aspiring
NW Buttress route & Therma Glacier
Moon over W.Coast & Chris on isolated rock on top Shipowner
Lower Volta, Aspiring, Therma Gl.
Left: Lower Volta
glacier, Therma & Haast
2 abseil descent down loose remnant rockslide, key to the
traverse - CzechMate
At Colin Todd hut we
found out 2 Czech climbers had attempted the traverse a day
earlier and turned back because of loose rock & encountered soft
snow on retreat. As we followed their tracks through the Therma
I was both impressed by their route-finding and apprehensive
about solving the apparent difficult route issues. The thought
of re-tracing our steps back up the Therma under cliffs in
midday heat was oppressive. Could we get through the rock cliffs
and rockfall? Some GW route-finding plus 2/20m abseils did it!
What a big tough mtn. call the Czech's made to turn back!
They played it safe and must have been disheartened. Only one
party completes the traverse each decade....if only we'd
connected, but we still had unknowns ahead....
Relief, for the moment .... beyond lay complex options to gain
the Upper Volta. The answer lay in the Fastness Peak scree
slope, which proved to be a straight-forward but tiring zig-zag
to a spectacular knob at 1800m.
Upper Volta Glacier
A 4hr trudge led to Ruth Ridge(2100m)
A tense, 4/25m abseils down a steep snow and rock gully using
snow bollards and slinged knobs allowed us to gain the moderate
ridge and descent into Ruth Flat.
Day 5: Up over the Bledisloe Gorge
to Junction, then Cameron Flat and bikes.
Another mini-multi-sport challenge: the Matuki river
The End nearly in sight and completion of the Aspiring/UV
Circuit - "CzechMate!"
True adventure involves stepping into the Unknown: GW
Mt. Aspiring Trek
3&4 day treks involves personal adventure in the company of an
Mt Dixon Rockfall
photo credit: Alpine Guides
NZ Stuff /Tues 22 Jan 2013
A colossal rockfall came only a few hundred metres from
engulfing a popular climbers' hut in the Aoraki Mt Cook National
Park. Twelve people were in the hut as huge quantities of rocks,
which climbers described as sounding like a Boeing 747 coming
through, plunged hundreds of metres down Mt Dixon about 2.15pm
yesterday, shooting plumes of dust high into the air.
No-one was injured, including other climbers who were further up
Mt Dixon when the rockslide happened. Climber Andrew McGregor,
who was in the Plateau Hut, said the rocks came to a halt about
200 metres away. Once the avalanche had settled, it was about
3km by 500m in size, he said.
Department of Conservation spokeswoman Shirley Slatter said
there were 12 climbers, including guides, in the hut at the time
and a guide she had spoken to was "pretty amazed" by what was
happening around them. A party of three which was on Mt Dixon
when the rockfall occurred, made its way back to the hut late in
the afternoon. The decision was made to close the hut as debris
came to rest within 150 to 200 metres of it. The climbers were
flown out from the hut last night, with some choosing to be
flown to other huts in the park to continue climbing. "There is
the potential for more to come off, Slatter said. She said it
was the largest rockslide in the park since the top 10 metres
fell off Mt Cook in 1991.
photo:Plateau hut toilet, Mt Tasman & Dixon(right)Geoff W.Dec
GW note: The large rockfall picked up snow and turned into a
very large rock and wet snow ground slide reaching the
Hochstetter Icefall crevasses. Wet snow avalanches often
travel long distances on low incline terrain following terrain
contours and troughs. Although it came close, the Plateau hut is
on a wide shelf about 50m above the main glacier.
Overview of Grand Plateau. photo: Geoff W. Dec 2012
Dixon avalanche 21/01/2013. photo credit: Shirley
Senior engineering geologist for GNS Science Graham Hancox
described the incident as a "landscape-changing event". "This is
a major avalanche and there'll be more than a million litres of
debris. It was an extremely rare event and it's taken quite a
substantial notch out of the south face." He said the hut was
"naturally protected" by an ice plateau and said the slide would
"have been enormous to come anywhere near the hut".
extract: NZ Stuff
Extract from NZAC Mt Cook Guidebook - New routes now available?
The avalanche was the largest in the Mt. Cook region since the
55mill.cu/m., 1991 Mt. Cook avalanche which also lowered it's
summit by 10mts. to 3754m.
1991 Mt Cook avalanche.
Age No Limit?
Fred Becky, 89yrs, climbs 300ft, 5.6 at Joshua Tree,
Note1: I have just been reminded by old mate Bob Schneider that
Joshua Tree in in California. txs Bob.
Note2: I had the pleasure of climbing the East Face of Huascaran
with Bob. We also took his younger (and mtn. famous) brother
Steve on his first climb at Indian Rock, Berkeley (California)
Accident: The body of a German tramper was recovered from a
gully near the top of the Cullers Route on xmas day. He was
tramping alone and started on 29Nov and apparently fell from a
snowpatch near the Pylon top. Late Spring snowfalls and cool
temperatures retard melting on the upper part of the steep route
between the West Matukiutki valley and the Dart valley. The
location has been the site of 2 previous fatalities which have
occurred. It is not known if he had alpine boots, ice axe or
crampons. The route is a serious and committing
alpine/tramping undertaking. However, it features in Lonely
Planet Guidebooks and is a recognised tramping circuit between
Wanaka and Glenorchy.
route:W.Matukituki to Dart Valley. photo GeoffW
Cook ascents in 6wks:
A superb weather pre-Xmas climbing period has concluded in very
warm temps. It's been a pretty surprisingly fine Spring with
significant snowfalls and periodic high pressures through the
SI. Geoff and teams were able to do some challenging expeditions
(see below). Excellent wx conditions and with a capable crew
enabled Geoff to complete an unusual personal trifecta of 3x Mt.
Cook ascents in a 6wk season. It also gave him a re-newed
insight into the arduous and exacting Linda climb in a variety
of snow conditions.
Cook again - A fine wx morning window/then opened to the wind:
Geoff & Joe M. grabbed a one-day window to climb Cook via the
Linda Glacier. The forecast gale force Nor-wester meant we had
to complete the climb fast and efficiently. A surprisingly good
freeze helped us up the Linda glacier. Finally I found the best
line through the Summit rocks and then we scratched up the
wind-polished summit icecap sustrugi. I reminded Joe: "You do
the climb for yourself and the return journey for your family.
After 3hrs. involving 700m of down-climbing, including 8 pitches
and 3 abseils we reached the Linda Ice Shelf. After another 3hrs
of descent in gale force winds and softening Linda snow we
finally snow-shoed into Plateau hut after an 18hr climb of
The hut was empty. The 4 guided parties of 8 had vacated to the
Mt. Cook Village by heli in face of the fast moving front.
They'd pulled out on the IceShelf at dawn in the face of firm
conditions, slow speed and frontal timing.
To climb Cook isn't an easy task. Joe and I had spent the past
ten years building skills and experience. It had been a long and
fruitful journey from the Copeland Pass crossing in 2000 to Cook
It's been my long held philosophy: "Focus on the climbs and the
summits will arrive."
Summit Rocks Exiting
the Summit Rocks
on NZ's "Vertical Limit - 3754m
Mt Aspiring Treks: It's
alpine flower season. They are blooming spectacular!
Join us at Avalanche Lodge, Shovel Flat for an alpine flora &
mountain valley tour.
Does a fraction short of the Summit count?
If it does then I can claim 7/8ths of an ascent last Sunday.
Cultural Respectful Summit?
Did we stop short of the peak for cultural reasons? No, it was "verglas",
that glaze of impenetrable ice formed by "freezing rain"
and hardened by a strong cold SW wind.
Turning back is disappointing, but it's an important climbing
skill to learn. The lasting satisfaction should come from
the effort, after-all mountaineering is only a game, though
Hemingway regarded it as one of the toughest.
3 Wise Men?
back 150m short of Aspiring's summit.
The risk and lateness made the collective decision a "no
brainer". We'd put
in a huge effort step-plugging across the Bonar in breakable crust, then
climbing 10 pitches to the Shoulder. The tentatively scratching
of crampons up 300m
of moderate, but very exposed sheet ice was nerve-racking, hence
stopping just short of the steeper summit triangle as the
downclimb was to be just as arduous.
Break-away Glide-slab activity:
Monday 13th: Woke up on the Mt. French bivi ledges in a Dawn
white-out with ice encrusted bivi bags, drizzle and wind. Yuk -
opted to bail-out for the valley via the Break-away. Got through
the mid-section ridge-line with a 25m abseil off an ice bollard
into an isolated glide-slab gap and rapid exit through some ice
blocks. this is likely to be the last for the season as observed
glide-slab activity on Mt. Joffre will likely be replicated on
Mt. French's Break-away route. The usual glide-slab break-up
timing on the 35-40deg west facing slopes 1800-2400m around
1st-3rd week December. Observe Rob Roy from French Ridge hut.
Six Glaciers with Dennis
Mtn. access, soft snow and weather conditions converted a Eli de
Beaumont climb into an energetic "six glacier/ski
1: 29/11: Anna Glacier - Stopped by "Moat" mid-glacier, then
long ski off Hochstetter Dome via Lendenfeldt Saddle to Tasman
Tasman Saddle/Peak 9144 (2669m): Viewed a promising pencil-like
snow couloir from Tas. hut but on close scrutiny decided it was
a projectile "funnel." Didn't like the unstable snow/slush on
Abel (2688m). By the time we found a promising looking West
facing wide couloir, with minimal rockfall threat the weather
was decidedly inclement. It was a reasonable 4 pitch climb in
less than perfect snow and weather conditions (understatement!)
followed by a circuitous ski sidle back to Tas. hut.
2: 30/11: Murchison Glacier:
Escaped the forecast 120klm SW wind by dropping down the
Murchison Headwall and heading east towards the Mannering
Glacier with the view to Climb Mt. Cooper (2362m)
3: Mannering Glacier: Descended
off Starvation Col 200m to skin up the steep SE face of Cooper
to gain the summit. It's Murchison face offered a ski then steep
sidle to re-gain the upper Murchison and narly headwall
frequented by occasional surface sluffs and at-limit skinning.
4: 01/12: Tasman Glacier: 7.30am
ski down powder patches and ice. Lots of fun linking powder and
skidding across edgy ice. Inspite of the heavy packs it was a
great "Ski the Tasman" experience to Darwin Corner.
5: Darwin Glacier: Skinned up to
fork under Hamilton.
6: Bonney Glacier: Skinned to
upper basin and pigeon-hole climbed Rumdoodle face to narrow
Skied corn snow to Darwin and Tasman gear drop, then on down
snow, then white-ice hummocks to heli-pick-up by B3/Mark H. I
can't believe I hadn't discovered the delight of the Bonney in
the late Sixties!
Last Fri (16th) a
lone Canadian climber got stranded on the top of the
Quarterdeck4 in a whiteout, had a small slip, decided to dig a
snow-hole and sit out the storm. His use of a Spot beacon enabled
his Dad to track his movements. At midday Sat he pressed his SOS
button and RCC was alerted. A Team of 4 Wanaka ACR members incl.
GW attempted, in vain, to retrieve the climber in inclement wx.
With the the prospect of a 2nd night out the team prepared to
extract a hypothermic patient by air or ground on Sunday.
Davie & Brian gear up Fwd
Base at Aspiring hut for 5hr wx. wait
ARC team Leader Lionel & snow plastered Break-away/Mt French
Visually impaired helicopter & SAR team on standby ph: GW
Fortunately, the climber
survived Ok, except for weariness, dehydration and snowblindness.
His gear was wet but not sodden.
Soloing across a glacier in white-out to meet a plane schedule
is high risk.
The Spot Beacons are useful for your Base or Searchers but does
provide a useful GPS "track" for the navigator.
The Quarterdeck and "Q'Deck Pass?" as marked on the map is
Staying put, digging in and toughing out a couple of cold/wet
nights is a good survival technique (unless it storms for a
week or more)
Putting out the "Best SAR team for the Job"
Lionel (Team Boss) Clay
Brian (Navigator/StepPlugger) Weedo
Davie (Avo Haz Exp/Mtn Medic) Robinson
Geoff (HypoTherm Medic/LSAR Advisor) Wayatt
Doug (22,000 hrs) Maxwell - pilot
Estay (Radio comms) Aspiring hut/DOC
30 years ago to date John Blennerhassett and I completed the
first ski descent of Mt Cook. Check out my Dynamic VR17/200cm
slalom skis on the Mt. Cook Visitor Ctr. wall.
Geoff, Aoraki 15thNov.1982. Ski Descent route via
Icecap, Green Gully& Linda Shelf
25th Mt Cook Climb - 13 Nov 2012
It was a treat two
days ago to climb the peak again (for the 25th time and 2nd
ascent in last two weeks)
Companion, Chris M. and I left Plateau hut at 1am on snowshoes
and punched up the powder filled Linda Glacier to the L. Shelf
at daylight (5am).
To quote Italian climbing great, Walter Bonatti:
"Climbs have a History, an Aesthetic and an Ethic"
Climbing Chute above Linda Shelf. Chris on
summit at Noon(3754m)
Fresh, thigh deep powder snow slowed us down along with powder
over the Summit Rocks and schrund bypass onto the Nth. Ridge.
Freddie, Julie & Jono combined with us for
step-plugging on the Linda Shelf & then doing six rappels down
the Summit Rocks in late afternoon.
There have been significant glacial & mtn. changes over past
decades, but the Grand Plateau remains one of the grandest mtn.
locations in the World.
The snows of the vast Grand Plateau & cloud
shrouded Aoraki drain into the serac chaos of the dramatic
Hochstetter Icefall. ph: GW
(Join Geoff on a Gnd.Plateau Snowshoe Tour visiting Glacier Dome
and the Anzacs)
Dawn on Tasman, Silberhorn & Lendenfeldt
Four climbers (dots) on mid-slope on Symes Ridge,
Tasman's Symes Ridge, a
long-time classic still in premium knife-edge, early season
condition from the Grand Plateau, dependent on lower ridge and
Nth Shoulder/schrund access.
Plateau Hut, a 3 bunkroom, 30 person hut is
accessible by helicopter and a spectacular location on the Grand
Plateau for a few days of alpine soliloquy.
Mt. Cook's 2,000m. Caroline Face - Attempted extreme ski
enroute to Gnd. Plat. from safety of helicopter
There are more "interesting" options out west - just talk to
Tubbs or Gordie, two
guys out there doing great Valley to Peak stuff including a ski
on Zurbriggens/East Face on 07 Nov.12
cloud-piercer & Linda Glacier shrouded by a moist, westerly
The 20 pitch
Zurbriggen's route/45/50deg. ext. ski descent slope left centre.
Update 08 November
NZ Vertical Limit - 24 in
46 - Last Monday (05 Nov 2012) Geoff W and Philip S. climbed
Aoraki/Mt. Cook (3754m) in testing, cold southerly conditions
with the summit rocks covered in powder snow. A late afternoon
snowstorm slowed the descent into a 20hr test of endurance for
On Glacier Dome the day after & rested!
"By and large, the whole thing is a mind game. It's a
reduction to the most basic actions of breathing and
moving...and knowing, not believing, that you can and will
Cory "COLD" Richards - 1st ascent, Gasherbrun II (8035m)
Rock&Ice, Issue 196 - 16 other parties tried and failed.
Aoraki Dawn (07 Nov 2012)
photo: Geoff W
Update 31 October 2012
Bonney Glacier, Multe
Nov 2012: Chris & Dave
on 3day ski-mountaineering expedition on the spectacular Bonney
Nov 2012: A day in a mtn. paradise - touring under Multe
Brun (3198m) enroute to an ascent of Rumdoodle (2705m) photo:
Eli de Beaumont 3109m
Nov 2012: Eli de Beaumont (3109m) is an excellent
ski-mountaineering peak. Geoff, Chris & Dave did a 7hr ascent up
the Anna glacier in ideal weather & snow conditions from a tent
camp on Lendenfeldt Saddle (2419m) plus Hochstetter Dome (Nth)
Darwin Buttress - A Classic GW 1st ascent in 1967
Mts Green & Walter - peaks of pleasure. Fun climbs
Fun climb peaks from Tent Camp on Tasman Gl with spectacular
views of Minarets and Eli de Beaumont. Four moderate pitches to
knife edged walk to Divers Col plateau & possible bivi site.
Green (2837m): Four short, sharp pitches.
(2809m) Pleasant short-rope ridge climb to summit.
Update 08 June
Lightshow on Everest
A parade of headlights from Sth Col to Sth Summit
Photo from Lhotse
Update 06 June
How many climbers can you fit on one mtn?
One time I was on the Copland Pass ridge with a crowd of 17
other climbers. I felt very uncomfortable. gw
Legendary Italian Alpinist said a climb has 3 parts:
A history, an ethic and an aesthetic
........is there something is missing on Everest?
Update 27 May
The Everest saga continues
(extract from www.stuff.co.nz)
Warning - Do not carry teddy bears on your pack when climbing
A female climber in the "death zone" above 8000m
was unable to climb down a ladder, Grant Rawlinson wrote "She
was shouting at her Tibetan guide at the top of the step.
Descending the second step is not technically difficult, however
it is extremely exposed in some parts and you don't want to
fall. She seemed completely freaked out ... She looked like she
was going to start crying. I felt absolutely no sympathy for her
whatsoever. You don't come to the North East Ridge at 8700m and
start getting climbing lessons while you hold everyone else up
and they sit there using up their life blood supply of oxygen."
The climber was eventually helped down.
From Taranaki and based in Singapore, Mr Rawlinson has 12
years mountaineering experience, including a previous
unsuccessful attempt on Everest. "And this girl had turned up
here without even the ability to downclimb a ladder. The
spectacle I was seeing repulsed me. People turning up with no
respect for the mountain. The desire for instant gratification
without the discipline to do the hard yards, the research, the
training and the preparation."
Earlier, Mr Rawlinson was held up by two struggling climbers
with teddy bears attached to their packs. "I contemplated
pulling the teddy bears off their backpacks, setting them on
fire and shoving them up their backsides. Maybe this would
motivate them to climb faster?" Four climbers died hours after
Mr Rawlinson reached the summit on May 19.
"Beware the Snow tiger"
It's coming into winter season and avalanche professionals are
discussing all aspect of avalanche danger including:
FIELD MANAGEMENT OF AVALANCHE VICTIMS
Background: In brief the international guidelines for field
management of avalanche victims are as follows:
Above 90% survived in first 18 mins. (survival phase)
34% survived at 35 mins. (asphyxia phase)
after 2 ½ hours (latent phase)
Patent airways crucial to latent phase survival
Ref: Can. Med Assoc Journal 2011 Haegeli, Falks,Brugger, Etter,
Initial key medical issues:
Hypothermia (> 35 mins)
Mechanical trauma (poor in treed and alpine/crevasse
locations)Acute asphyxia (poor survival in dense snow
Assessment & Treatment: (Brugger, Falk et al ICAR journal
2001Field management:Not conscious/Not breathing/No obvious
fatal injuries/Start CPR, intubate
Check burial time (> 35mins?)and or core temperature and air
pocket presence/Continue resus – standard ACLS protocol/ECG/
VF – apply 3 DC shocks – transport to unit with cardiopul/bypass
plus serum potassium measurement Asystole /If known airpocket
and free airway/Continue resus/VF: Apply 3 DC shocks, transport
to unit with cardiopul/bypass plus serum potassium measurement.
UPDATE: 06 May 2012
Peak Search & AdventureSmart intentions
Chief ascent by GW
& Ski-touring Tips by Geoff W.
Wx & Snow Links
MtnRec clients pass on
Rockfalls thwart 2012
Everest Expeditions, see Russell Brice's Himalayan
HimEx Newsletter (breaking news - Russ's team pulls out
due to un-acceptable danger.)
Transit of Venus - 06
June, 10am-4pm Watch w/lens on card.
Corner Peak Missing Tramper
Search reveals Intentions confusion
03 May: Confusion over a "panic
date" led to an un-necessary LandSAR Operation involving 3 ACR
team members (Lionel C, Davie R & Geoff W spending the morning
completing a hasty aerial search of the Corner Peak access
The intention was a day trip up the steep :skijump"
route to Corner Peak. When the alarm was raised by a work
colleague the next day Wanaka, Landsar personnel responded by
immediately deploying an ACR team due to cold overnight temps
and commiting nature of the intended route. The car was located
at the base of the climb and a note attached. Two hours were
spent flying the access routes and checking access routes before
returning to the start for fuel and review to find the vehicle
gone. The missing person's vehicle was spotted speeding down the
road and heli-chased and stopped. The surprised tramper
explained she'd planned the day trip, but carried a sleeping
bag. She thought she wasn't due out till Mid-day so when faced
with difficulties on the descent slept overnight and re-ascended
the ridge back to the ridge-line and followed descent via 1410m
peak and poled route to Timaru Creek.
The outcome was good, however the confusion over the "panic
date" cost 4 volunteers a morning and $5,000 of helicopter time.
Adventuresmart Intentions Form. It can be used as a form or
emailed to a reliable contact.
In Memory of two former
Ruth Hesselyn, 56:
Died on 13 March 2012 in a tramping accident when she fell down
a cliff in the Nelson region. Previously, Ruth had given herself
a 50th birthday present of a climb of Aspiring w/Geoff W. She
was a long-time mtn enthusiast and talented cabinetmaker.
Ruth, Asp summit, 2005
Lincoln Hall, sunburnt
Lincoln Hall, Aust. mountaineer, dies, 56.
Sad News as Geoff W fondly
remembers Lincoln from an Alpine Skills Crse in the late 1970's
and has followed his mountaineering and writing career since.
21 march 2012 -NZ Stuff:
"Australian mountain climber Lincoln Hall has died from
mesothelioma. He was 56.The world-renowned mountaineer,
who was a member of the 1984 first Australian Everest
expedition. ''Lincoln was well-known for his feat of
survival on Everest in 2006, when, after summitting the
mountain, he collapsed just below the summit and had
apparently died, only to be found alive the next morning
by climbers on their way up the mountain,'' said
Squamish Chief Ascent
If you have a
few spare hours in the Vancouver/Squamish and the
day is fine, I strongly recommend a climb up the
Chief's backside. There is a well formed steep
staircase climb through forest and boulders to the
1st, 2nd and 3rd peak. A short exposed rung climb to
the 1st peak reveals a vast panarama of Howe Sound.
The 2nd & 3rd peaks are great low angled slab climbs
with rewarding views.
rock-shadows & tree canopy
Athol Whimp named as deceased Fiordland climber.
Aspiring NW Buttress route again
.....In running shoes!
3 peaks in 30hrs:
Green, Walter & Hochstetter
New snowfalls in late January
extend Summer access.
De la Beche hut removed 22
Feb. See NZAC web site.
Dazzling mtn bike/tramp/climb
3 SAR Ops on NY's Day
Mt. Aspiring Treks:
Update and photos
SW ridge (2 in
West Face & Franz/Fox Glacier traverse
Wanaka walks -
Breast and Corner Peak
West Coast Photo Expedition
Technical Notes -
- Reflector Tape and NVG's
50 words for snow?/New Kate Bush album
Whimp: The Climbing community will be saddened to hear
of the death of 50yr old Athol Whimp yesterday (23Feb)
while climbing near Homer Tunnel. He was with a well known
climbing mate, Matt Everard and I believe were in the Homer
Saddle area. He fell 800mtrs. His body was recovered today.
Athol Whimp has been at the fore-front of Australian/New
Zealand climbing for more than 2 dacades and particularly
excelled on Himalayan Expeditions.
In the late Nineties, Athol Whimp and Andrew Lindblade
climbed Thalay Sagar. They were the first to climb directly
through the shale band, instead of finishing on one of the
ridges. It involved 1,400 m (4,600 ft) of climbing and is
VII 5.9 WI5.
Their climb was awarded the
Piolet d'Or in 1999.
They also put up a direst route on the Nth Face of Jannu, a
face well remembered by GW
Aspiring Feb 2012
NzIT Engineers in running shoes on NW
mt aspiring climb
Good access across the Bonar gl. enabled us to bivi on the mtn
and recce the Buttress. Dry conditions enabled my companions to
climb to the icecap in running shoes. Damp conditions on the
Hector col slabs tested our concentration and foretold of a wx
Change in weather after climb on Aspiring Feb.2012
Upper West Matuki valley cirque with dramatic cliffs, water &
WatchfulShovel Flat NZ falcon eyeballs our group.
Mt. Aspiring Guided Treks
Mt. Cook Region in January
treading and arete,TasmanGl.Aoraki Nat.Pk.Jan. 2012: GW
Avalanche plunge pool,shovel Flat Nov.2011
31 Jan 2012 update
50-100cms of new snow in the alps in late on 21/22 Jan. proved
to be good crevasse and ice cover for our climbs in the upper
Tasman. A further 2-300mm of precip. currently falling
will further improve snow conditions above 2000m.
Mt's Green, Walter & Hochstetter Dome (3 in 30hrs)
Mike, Chris and Geoff took advantage of a late jan. 2day fine wx.
window to fly into the upper Tasman gl., bivi on Divers Col
(2681m) and complete climbs of Green (2837m), Walter(2905m) then
back to the glacier (2100m)and across to Hochstetter Dome
Eli de Beaumont and Mt Walter from Mt Green.
Eli from Hochstetter Dome
Nov. 2012: Join Geoff W for a 5 day
ski tour/climb in the upper Tasman
Gl/Franz Josef Glaciers.
Dasler Pinnacles w/Mountainrec Jan.2012
-A great 2-3 day Bike/tramp/climb into the Hopkins
In mid Jan. 2012, Mike and GW left Wanaka driving
through to Lake Ohau before riding mtn bikes up the braided
Hopkins valley past the Red hut to the Dasler bivi track. After
a 1-1/2hr steep climb we arrived at the bushline 2 bunk hut,
6hrs from Wanaka. Next morning a long, steep tussock climb led
to scree and the Nth. Ridge.
A 2hr. steep, exposed rock scramble followed up 300m to the
summit. A support rope was carried and used on the descent.
Return trip time from hut: 7hrs. After a rest we descended to
the valley and biked to the car in 2-1/2hrs. with blazing
saddles - no suspension!
Steep climb to Dasler (Nth ridge start in notch)
Summit of Dasler Pinnacle, Mt. Glenmary beyond.
04 Jan 2012
NY's day a busy day for Wanaka SAR volunteers:
A deceased 60yr old Wellington tramper was located on Mt.
Twilight in the Wilkin valley after falling off a bluff while
searching alone for a new route.
A female was extracted from the Motatapu
gorge with a dislocated knee-cap after cliff-jumping into a
A 15yr old male was extracted from the
gorge late NY's day after getting his foot stuck in boulders and
suspended upside down in a 2m waterfall for 3hrs until a team of
10 SAR personnel could free him, apply CPR and heli-winch him
out of the 45m deep gorge. Sadly he died later in hospital. It
was one of the biggest and most urgent SAR Ops conducted by
Wanaka SAR volunteers.
SAR exercise training in upper Motatupu Gorge,
31 Dec - Old "Bucky" continues to disturb Christchurch Residents
with new Quakes and fore-warns of a long recovery period.
Central Chch Container Comeback, Dec 2011
10th December 2011
Minarets via West
Face (Geoff's 10th ascent)
W. Face, Minarets & de la Beche Minarets & Aoraki & Tas.
The steep west face
provides straight forward early season access onto the visually
central Minarets involving 4-5 pitches of steep ice.
Franz Josef to Fox
Glacier Traverse - A Classic Alpine Journey
Pre-frontal dawn, Franz Gl. GW Chancellor
Trough & Fox Icefall
Rannuculus Lyallii & Fox Icefall Chancellor hut, Fox
& Tas. Sea
Two Wanaka day walks - Breast Peak &
Aspiring or Aoelus? Which did Surveyor Thompson
Valley to Peak ascent of SW Ridge Aspiring - 19/12/11
A well timed pre-Xmas High Pressure enabled Geoff & Dave S. to
complete a 4 day exp. to Asp and complete the climb in "classic"
style (a bit like a GT of Cook). We swung leads up to the
couloir where the thin 10m. water-ice waterfall tested our trad.
ice tools and Dave's nerves watching me demolish the glazed
ribbon dripping with chandeliers and dinner-plating on each
blow. The 16 pitches took us 7hrs and we summated at 1pm before
descending the Ramp. Round trip from Bonar bivi - 13hrs.
(Geoff's 15th ascent of the SW ridge)
Geoff climbed the SW ridge on 30/11 with two long-time clients,
coaching them up easier pitches and leading a few of the more
serious ones. The 14 pitch climb took 6hrs incl. 1 steep
waterfall ice pitch and 4 in the final couloir to the summit.
The ascent used a rare 2-1/2 day fine weather window and
involved two cold but spectacular bivis on Mt. French.
2011/12 Bonar Glacier Snow Cover:
low snowfall winter with strong SW winds is currently apparent on the
glaciers and mtns of the Aspiring region. Expect firmer snow and
more difficult access conditions from mid January onwards.
Geoff&Joe Asp Sum. 30/11/11 Image: chrismortonphotography
Escape from windy bivi Chris M clinging to
THE DIVIDE -
opportunity to visit a high and remote location requiring strong
mtn. fitness, but no specific alpine skills.
It is a chance to photo spectacular alpine & Aoraki/Mt. Cook &
Includes a spectacular campsite near Welcome Pass and short climb of Scott's Peak
followed by descending the Horace
Walker Glacier into the dynamic Douglas valley for a helicopter
pick-up. Fly-in/Fly out.
party of 3 with one guide) $1580 per person
Includes: Transport to Fox from Wanaka, helicopter ride to Lucy
Walker Glacier, 3 days guiding fee, alpine eqt. ice axe and
crampons. Cost for 2 persons: $2100 per person
3 Day Aoraki /Sefton Photo
MAIN DIVIDE TO THE
"Just a taste of mountaineering"
Join us for a 4 day journey down one of
the largest glaciers in New Zealand, the Fox. It's our
HOT new successful expedition requiring a lot of
enthusiasm, good fitness and fine weather. Details: 4
day Fox Expedition
Reflector Tape & camera straps
Crampon Straps: Modifying crampon bail straps for added security.
Crampon security to the boot is a vital component to ice and snow
climbing safety and many climbers have stories of detaching crampons
from a variety of attachments.
The security of "toe
bail" type crampons has has recently come to my attention
following two fatal accidents. The climbers involved happened to
have "toe bail" crampon attachments w/o an added stainless steel
strap linking the toe bail to the ankle safety strap. If
the bail was to become detached then the crampon would hang
loosely on the safety strap. A steel strap adds some stability
to the attachment. I have added steel straps to some bailed
crampons along with additional diagonal straps to add stability.
The exercise was not cheap ($180) but neither is the experience
of discovering a crampon dangling from the ankle strap.
REFLECTING ON NIGHT RESCUE
GW's helmet and
gloves reflector tape.
The latest NVG (night vision
goggle) and powerful helicopter searchlight technology means
missing persons can be found by highlighting reflector tape.
NVG's have 6,000 times illumination and see a lighted match from
several kilometres away. More importantly, a search team can
locate a missing person without their imput if their clothing
has reflector tape on it.
Combined with PLB's GPS's and
even your Camera?
I don't know what use it's gps would be, but people have been located by
their camera flash. I carry a Lumen light stick as well.
New developments on Aval.
transceivers and cliff rescue - GW
IKAR (Recent Sweden Workshop)
CAMERA PARA CORD FOR ACTION SHOTS
I carry my climbing camera
clipped onto my pack strap in a GW-made soft case w/ spare
battery in lid. It is secured by a parachute cord leash to the
bag. A backup cord also attaches the bag and packstrap incase
the karabiner opens.
ELASTIC CARRY STRAP FOR
INCOGNITO CAMERA BAG
Carrying your camera in a bag ready for action gains the
"capture the moment" shot but is hard on the neck. I've made a a
bag strap from elastic horse bridle elastic and it moves with my
movements. The square non-descript bag is good when in
camera-shy locations. GW
- Ski Guide to former PM!!!
(for 2 runs in July08 at Cardrona Lift
Hillary dies at the grand age of 88.
Wayatt completes 84th ascent of Mt.
Aspiring w/Scots mate Mike Pappas via the SW Ridge in
meltdown continues on glaciers. NIWA
reports glacial volume loss.
Mountain Lites & Access boots
Main Divide to the Sea - Our "HOT"
including latest photos of our 4 day Fox
day Mt. French Trek/Climb w/ Mt Aspiring
Mt Aspiring Treks
Mt. French Expedition.
Tips, Trix, Topos:
Boots, Footcare and Blisters
Other Useful Weather
Global Satellite Photos (from NASA)
Victoria University (Wellington, NZ)
University of Canterbury (NZ) Geography
National (NZ) Institute of Water &
shrinkage reported: Most of New Zealand's glaciers are now the
smallest they have been since records began - and they continue
to shrink at a rapid rate.
Keep Fit (and dry), Geoff Wayatt