The mountaineering season in the Southern Alps is in full swing and this last week we had trips in both Mt Aspiring and Mt Cook National Parks. Team Andy and Dave with mountain guide Gaz were going for an instruction course mixed with guided mountaineering – with a potential ascent of the North West Ridge of Mt Aspiring. Able to fly in on the first day of the trip and the next day, they practiced skills with crampons, ice axe and rope on the slopes of Mount Rolling Pin. After a planned hut day due to weather forecast with presentations from the mountain guides about weather, navigation and prussiking, rope knots and what not, this tricky South Island weather then played a ‘trick’ on them with drizzle and rain instead of expected (hoped for) blue skies and sunshine.
Crossing the Bonar glacier on the way to French Ridge hut via the Quarterdeck, half that journey happened in a white out . Nevertheless a great alpinism adventure with the steep track down to and out of Matukituki valley back to base and Wanaka luxuries. Thwarted – this time – for the guided climb of Mt Aspiring but the peak is still there and so is this team of mountaineers, who learnt valuable alpine skills and techniques.