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SPRING 2014 $9.95




B U G A B O O S , B.C. A U G U S T 13, 2 0 13






With pleasure, we present your next summer climbing trip destination. Owen Davies on the first ascent of Autumn Tower (26), Watchtower Crag, Borland Valley, Southland.

Get your photo published on this page and we’ll give you a stylie pair of Chalkydigits pants of your choice from their current range.





14 Whangaehu Hut: 50th Anniversary

4 Exposure

by Marcus Daws

18 NZAC Photographic Competition 2014

Champion images and judges’ commentary

22 Kawakawa Bay

by Dan Head

30 North Island Road Trippin’

8 The Sharp End

Comment and opinion

12 NZAC News 16 People

Jerome Waldron

Three rock climbing destinations you’ll love

46 Technique

by Kester Brown

Alpine Abseiling

36 Beyond Yosemite

48 Stuff You Need

Western USA granite

51 Books and Films

by Simon Carr, Dan Head and Gregory De Pascale

44 The Evolution of the Alpine Pack by Steve Fortune

ON THE COVER Zac Keegan going for broke on the crux move of Re-Ignition (23), Mangakara, Whanganui Bay. JOHN PALMER

THIS PAGE John Palmer, selfie on Microchip (V2), Jardines, Queenstown. JOHN PALMER

54 Wall Directory 56 The Last Pitch


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Karl Schimanski on ET Goes Home (M6), west face of the Telecom Tower, during the 2014 Remarkables Ice and Mixed Festival. Now in its third year, the festival was again a great success, and was enjoyed by a crew of over 140 climbers and skiers. The Macpac Hardest New Route awards went to Jono Clarke, for his ascent of Boys Don’t Cry (M6+) and Diane Drayton, for her ascent of Bad Corner (M4). Diane also took out the women’s Macpac Hardest Repeat Award, by ticking Chockstone Chimney (M4), on the Afterglow Buttress. Karl Schimanski netted the men’s Macpac Hardest Repeat Award, with an onsight of Blow Up (M8). Guy McKinnon was named the Black Diamond Alpinist of the Year for the second year in a row, primarily for his solo winter ascent of the east face of Popes Nose in July. Freddy Varengo won the Osprey Packs Double to Single Cone Traverse Race.



All profits from the festival are invested into an Expedition Capital Fund. After three festivals, the fund now sits at over $43,000. The first expedition supported by the fund will be to the Santa Cruz valley, Peru, in 2016. Attendees at the 2015 Remarkables Ice and Mixed Festival will be eligible to apply to join the expedition. See for registration details. PHOTO: MARK WATSON





Kiwi guide Mike Madden descending from the true summit of Lobuche East (6145m), in the Kumbhu region of Nepal in April 2014. Mt Everest is in the background. Lobuche East was an acclimatisation climb in preparation for an attempt on Everest with the Himalayan Experience 2014 Everest Expedition. Then on 18 April the worst accident in the history of Everest mountaineering occurred when a large avalanche swept off the west shoulder of Everest, killing 16 Sherpa men who were working in the Khumbu Icefall. The Himalayan Trust set up an appeal to help the families of the men lost in the avalanche. Funds raised will provide scholarships to their children, covering educational and living expenses, ensuring they have a guaranteed schooling despite the loss of their fathers’ livelihood. Through generous donations, including by many who attended the New Zealand Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour events, the trust raised over $28,000. Visit for more info. PHOTO: RENAN OZTURK






CLIMBING RELATIONSHIPS AS A MALE climber fortunate enough to have had a long-term relationship with a female climber, I was interested to read Esther Packard-Hill’s article about female climbers’ relationship decisions in The Climber issue 88. Going back 40+ years and to the other side of the planet where I began climbing, I don’t think very much has changed in this matter. In the 1960s and ‘70s in Britain there were far fewer climbers and correspondingly fewer female climbers. Because of the small world of climbing at that time, most of the regular climbers capable of doing the harder routes in England and Wales knew each other, and the number of woman climbers with that capability was probably less than ten. There may have been a few others who stayed in their own climbing areas and I can only speak for those who went to the most popular climbing districts. In those days my favourite cragging area was Llanberis Pass, in North Wales, which had a high concentration of crags in the immediate area and if the weather was wet in the mountains you could drive to places like the sea cliffs on Anglesey where there was a good chance of getting dry rock. In those days, with petrol being relatively cheap, climbers would flock to North Wales from as far away as London. Most of the women climbers were usually in a relationship with a male climber and because of the smaller number of good women climbers, most of the men with a partner would have either a non-climber or one who only climbed at the lower grades. The reasons for these choices haven’t changed much in those 40+ years and are similar to those stated in Esther’s article. It certainly made life much simpler if your partner was also a climber. My former wife and I parted company amicably a few years ago, mainly because she preferred living in Britain. She has now teamed up with one of her previous climbing partners and is doing a lot more climbing than me. –Tony Charlton

THE OLD VS THE NEW ANOTHER LONG expected issue of The Climber arrives in the letterbox, I rip open the protective plastic cover to get closer to the print. I quickly flick through the pages,

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going? It’ll be tricky to bring up the website on those new routes while hanging out in Turners Eyrie. It’s a lot easier to rip the page out of a mag before going than remembering to print it off a web page—if I can still find it a few years later. Or am I just too old fashioned and not organised enough to manage the new way appropriately? As you can sense I find lots of merit in the way The Climber used to be. I believe it should keep publishing content of the kind discussed above. And yes, feel free to publish that same content on the web as well. Websites don’t replace magazines, they complement them. –Jochen Lenfert

taking in the stunning full page photographs and scanning the articles and news snippets in order to decide which one to read in full first. I get to The Last Pitch … where was it? Did I miss it? I immediately scan all the pages again, this time in reverse order. Finally I find it: the Climbing News and Events department. Closer inspection reveals why it took me so long to find. All but one of the pictures have snow in them, and all but one of the news items are about mountaineering. Only one out of those four is actually covering events in New Zealand. There is not a single report about any new rock routes for the mortal majority. Maybe everyone but me was busy repeating routes oversees, lucky them. But hold on, there is a note to visit the climber. website for more news information. So back to the computer, aha there it is! Yes the domestic scene was busy in the autumn, I thought it would have been. Do I dare think that this is the direction The Climber has decided to turn to from now on? New routes published on the websites, and repeats plus maybe a few selected new climbs in the mag. If I derive a formula from the last selection that seems to be true. Mmmmmm, that is quite contrary to how I would have expected it. I love looking through the pile of past issues of The Climber in the corner of my lounge. Finding inspiration time and time again, especially from the news sections about new rock routes around the country. How many times have I taken the mag along on a road trip for proof that there are climbs where I am

[Editor’s reply: Every year, New Zealand climbers develop hundreds of new rock climbing routes all around the country. The Climber has never sought to publish information on every one of those new climbs, instead we have selected a few of the most interesting developments to cover in the news department (alongside significant repeats, events, club activities and the like). We think guidebooks are a better place for route information to be stored, and NZAC publish a range of print guides. But even this idea is developing as technology advances. The internet is an amazing resource, one that we must embrace. It is a much better medium for route information dissemination than print because developments can be recorded and amended as they happen. We think the same applies to climbing news. By the time the print issue of The Climber arrives in your letterbox, the news contained within is old hat, as it’s already been publicised by various websites, including You’ll find that, for the first time ever, this issue includes no climbing news. We do think a printed archive of activity is an important resource though, which is why we’ve been widening the scope of the New Zealand Alpine Journal area reports. A comprehensive overview report of rock climbing developments for each island ran in the 2013 NZAJ. Inspiration comes in many forms, and while The Climber can never be all things to all people, we hope you’ll find some rock climbing content in this issue that gets you psyched!



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EDITORIAL WHEN I first started climbing, I could never understand what the fuss was all about with first ascents. Surely, I thought, a climbing route is just a geographical feature, what difference does it make who happens to climb it first? Then I put up a few rock routes, and realised it wasn’t as simple as that. I first had to find a good-looking feature, then somehow get into position to see if there were holds on it. Then I noticed no one had applied any order to where the holds were placed, some of them were in very inconvenient spots, and faced the wrong way! Next I had to work out where to put the bolts, and that wasn’t obvious either. So I was suddenly faced with all sorts of choices: Do I follow the path of least resistance? Or force the route up the more elegant line? Or choose the best sequence of climbing moves? Should I place the bolts to make them easy to clip? Or choose spots that would offer a safer fall? I also discovered that accessing the wall, and then the cleaning and bolting, was much harder work than I had anticipated. It took days to prepare one climb, and hundreds of dollars. Finally I had to climb the thing, which usually turned out to be the easiest part of all! Of course, in the alpine, you can climb first ascents without any of that heavy admin work. Walking up to a line on a mountain and climbing a first ascent, ground-up and onsight, sounds like the ultimate climbing ideal. And it mostly is, except that I’ve never found that being first has had any real impact on my experiences on those climbs. Maybe that’s a throwback to my original questions about the value of first ascents. On the cragging routes I’ve established—the vision, creativity and sense of contributing something of real value to the climbing community has all been immensely satisfying. On the alpine first ascents I’ve done, I could never help but think the experience would have been exactly the same whether it was a first ascent or not. The ‘being first’ element seems academic, especially in comparison to the buzz from the actual climbing, and the adventure. When Steve Fortune and Guy McKinnon climbed the North Buttress of Mt Hopkins in 2006, they thought they were completing the first ascent. It wasn’t until they got home after the trip that they found out Kynan Bazley and Paul Hersey had beaten them to it by a few days. I wonder if Steve’s and Guy’s experience on the climb would have been any different had they known they weren’t the first? What would have changed? These days, I’m not motivated by picking off unclimbed lines in the mountains for the sake of a first ascent, I’d always rather just go for the best-looking climb. That is unless there’s some competition. First ascents should, by their very nature, be a race. Keeping unclimbed lines under wraps, then sneaking off and climbing them is only cheat10


A sea of unclimbed rock in the central Darrans. Go get it! KESTER BROWN

ing yourself out of a more meaningful experience; it’s like running a race with yourself as the only competitor. Good on Rob Frost for authoring a feature article in this magazine (No Recorded Ascent, issue 85) which profiled a selection of unclimbed routes in the New Zealand mountains. That article stirred up significant interest in the North West Ridge of Mt Burns, and multiple attempts were made before Rob and Kieran Parsons pulled off the first ascent in December 2013. What a great story, and a significantly more meaningful achievement for having had some competition. The same goes for bolted rock routes. What is the point of closed projects? Whoever had the vision to create the line, and invested the time and work into equipping the route, should be the one who gets the most recognition for their efforts. Whoever completed the actual first ascent is important as an historical record, but only as an addendum to the credit given to the equipper. Further, where more than one person was involved in the process, both should be given the first ascent credit. Back when I was a North Islander, John Palmer and I established some routes together at Whakapapa Crag, on Mt Ruapehu. The best of those was a grade 24 called Ape to Angel. I spied the line first, but wasn’t sure where it should go. John found a good sequence of holds that went a different way to what I had envisaged. We shared the cleaning and bolting duties. Then we got to climb it. One of us had to go first, so John went, and climbed it. When he got down, we swapped and I climbed it. We thought it would be a little unfair for me to miss out on the first ascent credit, as it really made no difference, so we submitted both of our names to the guidebook editor. I think giving equippers precedence is the best way to record the most historically significant information about a route. It also encourages developers to put the work into opening crags, as they can be assured their efforts won’t be forgotten. And it will encourage more open projects, which equals more climbing for everyone. Next to be recognised should be all those from the team who led the climb on the day of the first ascent (or at least in a timely fashion). If it’s impractical for everyone to lead for any reason, then who is credited should be left to the discretion of the first ascent party. I’ve spent much of the past year involved in producing a new select guidebook to the North Island, Rock Deluxe North, and after much careful consideration, this is the method we settled on using. It’s a departure from the sometimes used convention of listing first ascentionists and seconders in priority order, but I think it’s a fairer method, that gives credit where credit is due. I hope future guidebook authors give serious consideration to adopting this method. –Kester Brown

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Glenda Rowlands on Tane Mahuta (26) Mangorewa Gorge


Photo: Kerry Crawford


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ISSUE 89, SPRING 2014 Editor Kester Brown Design and Layout Kester Brown Online Climbing News Editor Polly Camber Gear Editor Graham Johnson NZAC News Sam Newton Printing Spectrum Print, Christchurch Musical Inspiration Benjamin Clementine Contributors Dave Addison, Simon Carr, Tony Charlton, Ben Dare, Brian Davis, Marcus Daws, Tory Ewing, Kristen Foley, Steve Fortune, Dan Head, David Hoyle, Tom Hoyle, Dale Johnson, Daniel Joll, Renan Ozturk, John Palmer, Anna Partridge, Gregory De Pascale, Paul Rogers, Glenda Rowlands, Karl Schimanski, Terray Sylvester, Gerard Tarr, Julia Valigore, Mark Watson, Alec Winder, Graeme Woodfield. Advertising enquiries Sefton Priestley tel: (64) 03 377 7595 e-mail: Subscription information Published quarterly. $9.95 per issue, $28.00 per year (incl. GST & NZ surface mail; overseas p&p at cost): Contributions are welcome THE CLIMBER is published by the New Zealand Alpine Club. We welcome contributions in the form of photography, features, short articles, news, reviews, comment and letters. Please get in touch if you’d like to submit some material—we are always keen to hear from potential contributors. Contact us for payment rates.

HOMER HUT WARDEN SLOT AVAILABLE IN DECEMBER NZAC HAS been incredibly well-served in recent years by a dedicated and diligent roster of summer wardens at Homer Hut. Demand for positions is high, so the club is in the enviable position of being able to pick and choose only experienced wardens who do the job very well. So it is rare that a slot becomes available. However, due to an existing warden pulling out, the slot from 24 November to 29 December is available. Applications, including a CV, can be sent to Sam Newton at:

COMMUNITY CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP FUND THE NZ OUTDOOR RECREATION CONSORTIUM was formed in 2014 as a partnership between FMC, NZDA and Trail Fund NZ to manage and distribute funding obtained from the DOC Community Conservation Partnership Fund. For the year-one funding round, we at NZAC are applying for the following projects: • • • • •

Cascade Hut: A new roof. Homer Hut: A new water tank and improved solar power system. Centennial Hut: Overdue repairs to the door, windows and deck. Mid-Tasman Glacier: A new heli-portable biv. Ruapehu Hut: Upgrading the water system.

The CCPF is all about matching the hard work of volunteers in organisations like NZAC with some funding to maintain backcountry huts and tracks. NZAC has been doing this kind of work for a very, very long time, so we are in a great position to engage in this programme. It also serves to remind us that our hut network is completely dependent on volunteers for maintenance and upkeep, we thank all our volunteers for their often unheralded contribution.

NEW UNWIN LODGE MANAGERS APPOINTED EWAN AND WILMA, who have done a great job over the last 18 months, are departing Unwin at

the end of September. We wish them all the best for the future. We had a great response from SUMMER SUMMER SUMMER people keen to take on the role. I don’t think we will ever beADVENTURES short of willing candidates! ADVENTURES ADVENTURES

THE CLIMBER PO Box 786, Christchurch. Unit 6, 6 Raycroft Street, Opawa, Christchurch. tel: (64) 03 377 7595 | fax: (64) 03 377 7594

It is with great pleasure that I can announce that Simon and Pip Middlemass will take up the reins at Unwin Lodge in December. Simon and Pip, whom many NZAC members will know personally, are travelling back from Denmark. In the interim two months, former managers Chas and Katrina will be at Unwin. Congratulations to Simon and Pip, we are all looking forward to your hospitality.



IT IS pure coincidence that the AGM has been scheduled on the night of Halloween! It has been a tradition in recent years to hold a ‘great debate’ in conjunction with the AGM. I am keen to hear any suggestions around the moot. The idea of having a panel discussion rather than a debate—what are your thoughts on that? Do you have a suggestion for a topic? Regardless, please mark the date down in your diaries: 7.00pm on Friday 31 October, at the Christchurch YMCA.



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QUEENSTOWN QUEENSTOWN HIGHEST NZAC—we climb MOUNT IN MOUNT IN Our vision: NZAC champions the pursuit of PEAKS HOLIDAYS HOLIDAYS climbing, enabling skilled and active adventurers. We provide inspiration, information and seek to enable a vibrant climbing community. Our core purpose is to foster and support climbing. DISCLAIMER


Material published in The Climber is obtained from a variety of sources. While all care is taken, neither The Climber nor the New Zealand Alpine Club nor any person acting on their behalf makes any warranty with respect to the accuracy, SUMMER & WINTER ADVENTURES completeness, or usefulness of the information published nor assumes any liability with respect to the use of, or for damages arising from the use of, any information disclosed within this magazine.







QUEENSTOWN MOUNT IN HOLIDAYS ▲ Mountaineering ascents & instruction ▲ Rock & alpine, Remarkables Queenstown ▲ Rock & alpine, Darran Mountains Fiordland


mountaineering in the Southern Alps ▲ Day trips to the Queenstown & Wanaka backcountry ▲ Introduction to backcountry skiing




NZAC offer a variety of summer alpine instruction programmes. Course dates and availability are as follows. High Alpine Skills Courses—almost sold out Only two spaces are left on the hugely popular HASC. This six-day course is for those with good basic skills and excellent fitness who are serious about improving their mountaineering. There are two places left on the 3–8 January course, all the other course dates now full. Advanced High Alpine Skills Course—two spaces left This six-day course is for those climbers who have previously done a High Alpine Skills Course or equivalent and been actively climbing and improving their skills since then. It is expected participants will be competently climbing Mount Cook grade 2 alpine routes and have very good fitness. Participants will learn the skills to take them onto more difficult alpine routes. The course will be based at Plateau Hut, and will involve taking a helicopter in and walking out. The course will be held from 23–28 November 2014.

NORTH ISLAND CLIMBING CAMP Friday 2 to Friday 9 January 2015


Location: Tukino, Mt Ruapehu IT’S BEEN many years since the North Island has hosted a camp, and the Wellington Section has offered to be the host of record, but essentially it’s all three North Island sections working together to share their favourite mountain. The camp will be based from Tukino. At 1700m, it is the country’s highest drive to accommodation. Tukino is a real alpine environment, overlooking the Rangipo desert. There is ample accommodation for as many as a 100 people in the three lodges, so there will be no worries about soggy sleeping bags. There will be a series of activities specifically designed for three groups: rock climbers wishing to broaden their horizons; the select group who know what a 60lb pack is like; and for family groups. The camp will include a series of planned trips away from our base, either up the hill or to far-away crags, or to places like the Kaimanawa Range, or even an occasional hot pools trip. Some of the activities will be a little different, like searching for aeroplane wreckage, or trying your hand at adding your name to the guidebook with a new route. Watch the website for more details of activities, and plans, and how to book. –Don French, NZAC Wellington Section

ROCK DELUXE NORTH a guide to the best crags and boulders 24 crags Over 1100 climbs Illustrated history of North Island rock climbing Full colour topos Dozens of inspiring climbing images Access, accommodation and other practical information for every crag

‘The best guidebook I have ever seen’ –Graeme Dingle

Order online at All proceeds from the sales of Rock Deluxe North will go to a fund for the support and development of rock climbing in the North Island




2 3



his year Whangaehu Hut on Mt Ruapehu’s eastern flank reached its fiftieth year and NZAC celebrated with a major renovation and suitably ceremonious unveiling. The upgrades have been a long-term project spearheaded by Dennis Sanders and Richard Knott and supported by members of the Central North Island and Auckland NZAC sections. The outside cladding had started to deteriorate and a proposal was put forward in 2003 for a complete renewal and an addition of an extension to the foyer. The addition of the lahar warning system by the Department of Conservation and the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences in 2001 give the hut its distinctive silhouette. Current upgrades to the hut include new aluminium cladding, insulation and doubleglazed windows to shake its former reputation as the ‘Tukino fridge’. Climbers and ski-tourers can now enjoy the new eight-berth bunks in great comfort. A new foyer extension will mean that the former issue of snow build-up across the front door will be minimised as it will not build up in a corner and will now be exposed to the afternoon sun. The exposed location of the hut does mean occupants need to be extra careful of each step when venturing out at night as a misstep in the wrong direction could take you to the 100-metre+ drop on two sides. Stick to the newly installed safety rail from the hut to the toilet and you should find yourself there without a hitch. That is if the toilet is in fact still there. Whangaehu Hut is now onto its sixth toilet—the previous five have found themselves at the bottom of the cliff; it really is a room with a view. Plans are in action to upgrade the system and build a more secure 14


1 Completion of the original Whangaehu Hut, March 1964. DAVID HOYLE 2 Champagne flowed in celebration of the 2014 re-opening of Whangaehu Hut, September 2014. DAVID ADDISON 3 Whangaehu Hut, perched high on the edge of the lahar valley. Solar panels supply power for the lahar warning system, September 2014. DAVID ADDISON

and permanent structure. The building of the hut originally started in February 1963. Previously, the foundations and many building materials had been transported via chairlift from Whakapapa, over the summit plateau then carried via sled down the Whangaehu glacier to the hut’s location. The hut itself was prefabricated in the backyard of the hut’s designer David Hoyle in Mangere, Auckland. The intention was to carry the hut via helicopter to its site. However, a mechanical breakdown put an end to that plan and the hut was broken down and carried up by weekly working parties organised by NZAC members, it was then reassembled onsite. There were various setbacks, largely due to the weather, which caused significant damage. In December 1963 the cladding from three porch walls, the south wall of the hut itself and the Novaroof skylight had been blown off and come to rest in the valley below. Replacements had to be sourced, carried up to the hut and repaired, then the inside finished with the bunks and formica bench top, and the 44-gallon water tank installed. The opening ceremony was held over the Easter weekend of 1964. The ribbon was cut by Sir Edmund Hillary, who was joined by his father in-law and his son Peter. He declared the hut ‘Well and truly open.’ In September 2014, 50 years later and following the complete renewal of the hut, it was reopened by the returning Peter Hillary, who was joined by his son Alexander, completing a Hillary family four-generation legacy with the hut. Joining Peter and Alexander was a large group, including David Hoyle (the original designer and builder of the hut, who hadn’t been back to the hut in the past 49 years) and Peter Aimer, who was also instrumental in the original building and is still actively climbing, (he recently climbed Mt Aspiring at 78 years young). Barry Smith and John Woolford, both

founding members of the Central North Island section were joined by current NZAC president John Cocks and the three current chairs from the Central North Island, Auckland and Wellington sections. Many other club members and volunteers who had been instrumental in the rebuild also attended, including the very many overburdened load carriers of supplies up to the site. This time, the journey was a more relaxed affair, people were loaded with basic climbing gear, lunch and the obligatory bottles of champagne for the inaugural toast. Dennis delivered a speech on the hut’s upgrades and Peter Hillary reminisced about the original opening with his grandfather and Sir Ed. The plaque was unveiled and everyone took their time to inspect the changes and sign the visitor book. The party then walked or skied back to the Tukino lodge in slushy spring conditions. The evening celebrations continued with a ‘Black-ish tie’ theme, which left the dress code open to a degree of interpretation. A fine roast dinner was prepared by Don French and his gaggle of NZAC committee volunteers, which was washed down with mulled wine and a fine dessert. Many a climbing story was shared as the speeches continued into the evening. Peter kept everyone enthralled with stories of his club involvement and of his father. John Cocks and David Hoyle paid tribute to the new legacy of the hut and a speech was read on behalf of former NZAC president and Whangaehu builder John Nankervis, who was unable to attend. The whole day proved to be an overwhelming success and a fitting celebration of everything Whangaehu Hut has given climbers over the past 50 years, and a promise of many more years of providing shelter and launching mountain adventures. We look forward to welcoming Alexander Hillary and his children to the centenary celebrations.

4 Repair work was completed in December 1963 after losing cladding and a skylight to the valley below. BRIAN DAVIS.

Current upgrades to the hut include new aluminium cladding, insulation and double-glazed windows to shake its former reputation as the ‘Tukino fridge’. Climbers and skitourers can now enjoy the new eight-berth bunks in great comfort.


5 The original hut walls being man-handled up the eastern slopes of Mt Ruapehu in December 1963. DR GRAEME WOODFIELD

6 Peter Hillary delivered an enthralling speech detailing Hillary family holidays centred around backcountry huts, September 2014. DAVID ADDISON

7 Carl McKay being pulled up to Whangaehu Hut with the new water tank, 1998. DENNIS SANDERS

8 A work-party of volunteers from the NZAC Auckland Section erect the walls and roof structure, December 1963. DR GRAEME WOODFIELD

9 Building materials being carried from the Whangaehu road-end, 1963.




10 One ton of building supplies traversed Mt Ruapehu from Whakapapa to the summit plateau with the aid of the ‘Snowbus’ in February 1963. DAVID HOYLE

11 The walls are erected and the cladding is about to be fitted. The valley walls provide a dramatic backdrop, December 1963. DR GRAEME WOODFIELD



9 10






first climbed with Jerome on the south face of Douglas Peak, at the head of the Fox névé. Jerome had hired a guide to climb with from Adventure Consultants—and I was that guide. We met at Fox in early November, flew in and climbed the next day. I led 12 pitches of fine New Zealand mountain ice on the Central Couloir route. BY PAUL At one point I remember arriving at the top of a pitch, cutting a stance for a belay and, just before clipping in, getting hit on the arm by a piece of rime ice that had fallen from high above me. In pain, I looked around and saw many pock-marks from more falling rime. I called out to Jerome and told him we would simul-climb for 15-metres so I could get out of the fall line! The rest of the climb went well and we were on top by 2.00pm. I planned to descend via the Divide to the north despite noting consistent well-built abseil anchors on the face on our way up. The anchors had been made by another guide, Nick Cradock, during a previous ascent. Nick had had to retreat just short of the top, when his client broke a crampon, so I knew the anchors continued for the length of the route, and I knew they would be good quality. Tempting though they were, I was reluctant to be further exposed to falling ice; the sun would soon make its way around to warm the top of the face. I remember calling the Adventure Consultants office and telling them we were on the summit, but would take a while to get off. I was basing my descent plan on my first climb of Douglas in 1988 with my good friend Pete Sykes. Jerome and I completed some pretty straight-forward down-climbing until just above Glacier Peak, where we did a 50-metre abseil. This was when things got tricky. The sun was on the western aspect of Glacier Peak by then—a 3000m glacial dome. I lowered Jerome over some big crevasses, which I then had to jump as I couldn't leave my trusty snow-pig behind, and the snow was too soft for a bollard. They were big jumps but the soft snow helped me land comfortably on the other side. Jerome was my anchor on the downhill side, in case I misjudged the jump or the upper edge gave way! These slots were the same slots in which, several years later, the Fox guides, led by Marius Brun, pulled off a dramatic rescue of a German climber who had fallen in one and broken her leg. The guides spent the night in the crevasse with her, before getting winched out. I breathed a sigh of relief when Jerome and I weaved our way through the ice debris and onto the Explorer Glacier névé proper. The sigh soon gave way to curses when knee- and thigh-deep snow became the norm as we plugged our way back to Pioneer Hut. It was 10.00pm by the time we tried to creep into Pioneer Hut quietly (which is impossible with heavy legs and big boots on). Paul Aubrey—another Adventure Consultants guide—leapt out of bed and put on a brew. Tired but happy, we drank a bit before sloping off to bed. 16

The next morning Jerome and I sat in the sun and devoured a fine cooked breakfast of scrambled eggs and spinach, accompanied by sweet milky tea and a few life stories. We had both experienced a great adventure and with that came a new-found friendship and respect for each other. The next time Jerome and I ROGERS met was on a leadership training course, again on the West Coast. NZAC was funding a course for section leaders who were active in the volunteer instruction world and Jerome had signed up to it. The course focused on the technical and leadership skills required to climb 3000m peaks on the Main Divide. During the course, we were able to examine contemporary teaching techniques around the key elements of snow-craft, glacier travel and snow-anchor building. The hope was that this teaching would trickle down to the active club instructors at section level. Since then, Jerome has taken an ever more active role in the NZAC Nelson/Marlborough Section. He runs well-subscribed and successful trips in the Southern Alps. I've been ice climbing at Wye Creek twice with Jerome, climbed Torres Peak with him and, more recently, climbed Lendenfeld Peak too. Those trips were a chance to keep the friendship we forged on Douglas alive, as well as exchange skills and experience gained in the world of leadership—mine as a professional guide and Jerome as a highly motivated and effective club leader. For me, Jerome represents all that is good about NZAC and the volunteers who continue to introduce the wider membership to positive mountain experiences. Jerome’s success comes down in part to his willingness to extend his own comfort zone as a climber in his own time, so when he is leading trips for NZAC, they are set at the level appropriate for the least experienced member in the group. I wouldn't have lead the Central Couloir on Douglas as a guide if I hadn't climbed it myself 20 years earlier with my mate. Whether you’re a professional or a volunteer, that kind of experience is one of the key foundations of a successful climb. I wanted to share these thoughts and experiences to celebrate one of the unsung heroes of the current NZAC section world. Good on ya mate.



–Paul Rogers can be contacted at:

Jerome on Engineer Col during a climb of Lendenfeld Peak, with the Fox névé and West Coast below. PAUL ROGERS





PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION A fantastic turnout for this year’s photographic competition had the judges agonising over the amazing entries. Congratulations to the winners and all those who entered. There were some amazing and inspiring images from you this year. Prizes will be coming the way of the champions and honours recipients courtesy of the competition sponsors Marmot, Scarpa and Alpine Recreation. The NZAC 2015 Photographic Competition Calendar, featuring winning images from the competition, can be purchased online from





p Peter Laurenson’s Red Divide has all the drama, compositional strength and beauty of a great landscape panorama, combined with a secondary human element that gives it context and scale. With contrast not only in colour, but also in the texture of the clouds and the mountains, it’s a stark image that succinctly expresses one of those amazing moments of light we are sometimes witness to in the mountains. Expertly captured, this image stood out as a clear winner for its category. (MW)

Weathered and Wizened, by Joshua Windsor MOUNTAIN AND CLIMBING CULTURE CHAMPION

p The strength of this shot comes from its simplicity. Black and white strips any distractions, a single window provides a simple beautiful light that falls away quickly into the darkness. The position of the subject and light source creates what is know as ‘Rembrandt Lighting’ with the little triangle of light on his cheek. The catch-light in the eye and the direction of the light accentuates the detail of his face and a lifetime’s worth of stories. All the above matched with a perfect choice of focal length and a shallow depth of field, which makes this a stunning portrait and leaves the viewer wondering: ‘What is his story?’ (LH)

The Citadel, by Lans Hansen ROCK CLIMBING CHAMPION

u The rock climbing category had by far the best selection of images competing for the top spot. This particular image was one of the few that risked a black and white conversion and came out on top. This is a famous problem (Ammagamma (V13)) photographed in a spectacular way. I’m not usually a huge fan of leaving strobes in frame but in this case it would have seemed contrived to have the source of the light removed. A striking feature, excellent play of light and shadow and a risky black and white conversion all came together to make this the top shot in the category. (SW) THE CLIMBER ISSUE 89, SPRING 2014



p Throughout the whole judging process I was looking for an image that excelled for all the wrong reasons—one that defied conventions but ‘just worked’. This was about as close as it came, but it took me a while to warm to. It certainly invoked some fairly vigorous discussion between the judges. This image captures the spirit or essence of Fiordland expertly and the centric composition was unusual but oddly effective. Of special note is the tonality of the edit which gives the image part of its emotion. It’s all to common to see images ‘overdone’ but this was treated particularly well. (SW)



The Thinker, by Dougal Hilson

Jono Clarke – Remarkables Ice and Mixed Festival, by Fraser Crichton



t Dougal has captured a ‘moment’ here, the kea surveying its domain. The composition, depth of field and focus were all considered before the shutter was pressed. This in turn draws the viewer’s eye through the image, first the kea and then beyond to its domain. The layers of the pass in the background add depth and a good sense of scale. This image also has a very high contrast ratio (sunlit snow versus dark shadows) to keep detail in the bright snow and also in the darker areas, the feathers of the kea would have been especially tricky to get right. Dougal has shown a good understanding of exposure and processing. With all these factors I feel this is was a worthy winner. (LH)

p ‘It’s just a bum shot’ is an expression I’ve often heard when debating the relative merits of climbing photographs with other critics. Love them or hate them, bum shots are an essential genre of climbing photography and without them we’d be missing a generation or two worth of images from the history of our sport. The ability to shoot a worthy climbing shot with your feet on the ground, beneath the climber, is a skill all climbing photographers should have, because sometimes it’s the only angle you’ll get. This shot of Jono Clarke climbing in the Remarkables is a great example: the rule of thirds, the climber’s body position, and a study of texture and tone all stack up to make this a strong image. (MW)

THE JUDGES Lee Howell Growing up in the UK, Lee first embarked on a career in automotive engineering, which took him to Formula One as a race team mechanic. After moving to New Zealand in 2006 Lee put down the spanners in favour of a fulltime career behind the camera. Since then Lee has developed a reputation for producing high quality, professional images for corporate, editorial and advertising clients alike. While Lee loves the challenge of shooting automotive and sports subjects, his real passion lies in working with people and creating portraits that glow with a natural warmth and capture a person’s true character. Lee’s work has graced the pages of numerous NZAC publications and when he’s not working, he likes to splash mud on his bike in the Port Hills or unwind amongst the tranquility of the slopers and swimming holes at Paynes Ford. To see more of Lee’s work please visit:

Simon Waterhouse Simon’s career originated in print and web design, evolved quickly into commercial photography and is now focussed almost entirely on commercial video through his production company Resonate ( As an avid climber, skier and mountain biker, finding the balance between office time and outside time has always been a challenge, but more recently Simon has been fortunate enough to find some clients who are also keen to use New Zealand’s magnificent wilderness as locations for their commercial productions. Open spaces, happy faces.

Mark Watson Mark is a Lyttelton-based photographer and graphic designer and has climbed, tramped and cycled over much of New Zealand (and many places overseas). He is well known as a previous editor of The Climber magazine and New Zealand Alpine Journal and as co-author of Our Mountains, for which he photographed (and summited) 15 mountains along the length of Aotearoa. Twice overall champion of the NZAC photographic competition, Mark photographs adventure sport, landscape and travel. His work has been widely published and is represented by Getty and photonewzealand.





KAWAKAWA BAY The ‘other’ bay on Lake Taupo is a paradise of lush native bush, a beautiful lake and long, moderate routes on superb rhyolite. BY DAN HEAD PHOTO Mark Watson on one of the best routes at Kawakawa, High Hopes (16). JOHN PALMER





MOST people think that the massive Mt Taupo eruption 1800 years ago created all the climbable rocks around Taupo. The rock at Kawakawa Bay however, is actually the long lost love child of Australia's crags Mt Arapiles and Frog Buttress. They decided to send little Kawakawa to New Zealand, where they hoped the good people of the land would lovingly gift her with stainless steel instead of the classic Australian carrot bolts. Ironically, it was an ex-pat Australian by the name of Steven King who was the first climber to appreciate Kawakawa’s beauty.



Mark Watson pauses between technical slabby cruxes on Rohan’s Arête (22) on the Cracks Wall. This wall houses some classic lower-grade trad routes, such as Gecko Groove (16), Outboard Crack (17) and Flake 7 (18), and as it catches some shade in the morning is a great place to warm up. Don’t leave before having a go at Rohan’s Arête, it’s simply one of the best arête climbs around. It’s sustained and interesting, with great holds and moves that will get you thinking hard. And of course, the setting is sublime. JOHN PALMER


While Kawakawa is not the best area for hotshots looking for big ticks, there are a few good upper mid-range climbs to test yourself on. Here, the author shows off one of his steeper additions to the Lower Bluff—Foo Fighter (27)—and a superb pair of tights! GERARD TARR

With only a month left in the country, Steven re-bolted all the routes that had been carrot-bolted—a massive effort, done purely for the benefit of everyone else. Without Steven’s inspiration and ground-work, Kawakawa would not be the climbing area it is today. In 2007, development had lost momentum, as the prolific North Island developer Matt Natti had snatched up all the other keen North Island developers to help establish Mangaokewa, a new overhanging limestone crag 20 minutes south of


The magic of the main beach at Kawakawa Bay at sunset. No road access to the bay keeps the crowds away, and with a lovely new shelter and toilet at the camping spot set in the trees just back from the lake, you can sink into the sand at the end of a long day climbing with a beer to cool your tips and melt into the view … perfect. JOHN PALMER

Waitomo. In 2009, Matt Thom and myself returned to Kawakawa to explore the wild new terrain past the Point. Together we established the 50-metre long trad route Californication (20). We were psyched! This new wall had incredible potential. The Kawakawa developing seed had been sewn once again. THE CLIMBER ISSUE 89, SPRING 2014


WITH an ideal combination of consistent good weather, stunning scenery, old classic lines, exciting new lines and a plethora of virgin rock, Kawakawa Bay is now firmly established as one of the best cragging destinations in New Zealand. The crags in the bay are comprised of solid rhyolite and reside amongst native bush above the lake. Climbers from all over the world have been impressed by the quality, length and variation that Kawakawa has to offer.

FROM LOW-GRADE SLABS TO INSPIRING FACES, STUNING CRACKS TO RAD OVERHANGS AND EXPOSED ARÊTES, THIS PLACE HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. Most of the bolted routes are equipped with fun and safety in mind, but a few Roland Foster-style run-outs keep things interesting on the odd climb, honouring the old-school tradition of climbing with confidence and purpose. Currently there are over 150 established routes. Some of the best climbs are 40- to 60-metre-long single pitch lines that provide well-earned fulfillment for those who enjoy having a bit of air under their feet. Climbers keen on the lower grades have the luxury of some quality sport climbs under grade 17 to go at. Learning the trad trade is easy with quality gear lines starting at grade 12. Some of the very best routes in the area are in the 15 to 17 grade range. For the next level up, there are several multi-pitch outings on offer, and more than 80 routes from grade 17 to 23. Although there are only about a dozen routes established from grade 24 to 27, there is some potential for more routes at these grades and higher. Climbers of New Zealand—come baring racks, drills and stainless!




Rachel Musgrave slots a couple of bomber hand jams on The Hecklers (19). Another of Steven King’s early additions to the area, this route is as good as they come at this grade. Starting from a comfortable platform by the lake (which houses a few other good routes too), this 40-metre corner pitch offers jugs, jams and friendly gear placements. Before abseiling from the belay ledge, see if you can spot any tastylooking trout lounging in the shallows below. JOHN PALMER

GREAT GIG IN THE SKY I live at a bay, in a land by the sea, It’s pretty and warm and peaceful to breathe. We climb and we swim, take care of our home, Made it our own with pebbles and stones. With plenty of wood to last through the night, Captivated by flames that burn with delight.


Now that’s the way to get to the crag! While the hour and a half approach from Kinloch is along an extremely pleasant, well-maintained path through the bush, some prefer to save their energy for the climbing and take a water taxi to the bay. Give Susie from Fish Her Charters a call to organise a high-speed lift. MARK WATSON

It’s here I’ve found peace, absolved in the beauty, The nature, the life, that yearns without duty. To me this is heaven, a great gig in the sky, Could not be much better, than what we see with our eyes. THE CLIMBER ISSUE 89, SPRING 2014



Dave Hood climbing the second pitch (18) of The Odyssey. This climb was an instant classic, and this pitch might just be the best grade 18 trad pitch in all of New Zealand. The crux requires almost entirely mental strength, and involves a ten-metre bottomless chimney, 100 metres straight above the lake! GERARD TARR

BETA North Island Rock Deluxe covers the best of Kawakawa. A comprehensive guidebook, including every route up to February 2013 is available as a two-part PDF download. All are available from the online shop at A few must-do climbs to get you cranking are: Thunder God (21,14,18), High Hopes (16), Gecko Groove (16), The Hecklers (19), Highway Child (21), Rohan’s Arête (22), The Odyssey (22), Resolution (23R), Fly My Pretties, Fly (24), Space Odyssey (25), Altar of Madness (25) and Foo Fighter (27). Summer is one Kawakawa’s best seasons. Due to the multiple aspects, a shaded wall is always available. Siestas and beautiful, fresh-water swims are also quite popular in the summertime (clothing optional). Updates, hook-ups, photos, videos and all the latest goss can be perused on the Facebook page: Kawakawa Caveman Services. For anyone looking for personal growth and deep satisfaction, I recommend developing some of your own climbs. If you would like to get into developing at Kawakawa, I am more than happy to help. Contact me at: Water taxi:, (07) 377-4497. 28


THE ODYSSEY WALL is longingly gazed at by every visitor to Kawakawa who arrives by boat. This 60-metre high cliff is perched 80 metres above the lake, so epic exposure is guaranteed! One Monday back in 2011, Rob Addis insisted we investigate the wall. So with Matt Thom, we utilised some adapted North Island alpine techniques and climbed the near-vertical forest below to the cliff’s base. (Access these days is by abseiling in from the top and climbing back out.) Gazing up at the massive wall we were awestruck. The first line we attempted, which would later become The Odyssey, turned out to be quite the ground-up adventure. Matt led the first pitch, climbing a steep face on good holds with bomber gear. I took on the second pitch, bridging my way out backwards through a ten-metre bottomless chimney with a lovely view of the lake over 100-metres below me!

WITH EPIC SMILES AND LAUGHS ALL ROUND I ARRIVED AT THE LIP AND BUSTED OUT AN EXPOSED MOVE TO GAIN A SLAB TRAVERSE. THE EXPOSURE WAS UNRELENTING. Matt and Rob followed, then it was Rob’s turn to tackle the last pitch. Starting with a small overhanging roof, this pitch got the best of Rob after a few really good attempts. The exposure eventually tipped his adrenaline scale from ‘epic’ to ‘ahhhhh!’. Matt took over the sharp end and almost made it through, but he too was ultimately shut down. This pitch not only tests physical and mental strength but also requires a rather unique climbing technique. We made the decision to aid through and return later to free the pitch when our minds and bodies had better adapted to the style and exposure. The three of us returned a month later and freed the final pitch, which went at the unexpectedly modest grade of 22. The Odyssey (17,18,22) was born and we were extremely tempted to give this route four stars on a three-star rating system. The Odyssey wall has routes that are not only long and exposed, but offer consistently bomber natural protection on solid, clean rock. This is a welcome relief, considering the majority of the lines are overhanging, with features straight out of a Dr Seuss fantasy.



NORTH ISLAND road trippin‘ By Kester Brown

Planning a summer roady this year? Tired of the same-old Paynes-Castle Hill-Wanaka-Darrans circuit? Why not check out the variety of crags and landscapes in the North Island instead? While the North Island has no Intergalactic Wall or Babylon, the breadth and scale of climbing options is vast. Whether you want trad, sport, bouldering or multi-pitch climbing, rooves or slabs, pockets or jugs, limestone or sandstone, the North Island has it all. It also has better beaches, better coffee and better volcanoes! Some stunning new climbs and areas have been developed in recent years. So go north, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Here are three North Island summer cragging destinations you’ll love.

1 Mangorewa About halfway between Tauranga and Rotorua is this recently developed band of welded ignimbrite in the Mangorewa gorge. The crag is the brainchild of Kerry Crawford and Owen Keet, who between them have put up most of the routes so far. Pictured here is Glenda Rowlands on Dr Zeus, a three-star, 30-metre grade 25 that is the definition of neo-classic. If low to mid-20s is your grade, you must visit the River Wall. If new routes are your thing, bring a drill, there is lots of potential, and plenty of stars waiting to be claimed. And in case you get tired of all the classic climbing at Mangorewa, you can always pack your mountain bike and head a short way south to the trails of Rotorua, or take a board and go slightly north to find some waves in the Bay of Plenty.

Glenda Rowlands on Dr Zeus (25). GLENDA ROWLANDS COLLECTION





2 Whanganui Bay Climbers have been coming to the ‘Bay’ since the ‘70s, and despite continuing phases of varying popularity, it’s still the best climbing area in the North Island. I hadn’t visited the Bay for a few years before this winter. Upon return I was struck by two things. Firstly, as much as the world changes as time goes on, hanging out at the Bay feels much the same as it always has. The same faces are there on the beach, sitting on the same INSET The Whanganui Bay climbers’ camp spot at the porches, fishing in the same old dinghys every rivermouth. TOM HOYLE day, probably in the same old favourite spots. MAIN Kester Brown on Graemeless (25), the Plateau. The bush is just as beautiful and the lake is just JOHN PALMER as cold. Secondly, I had forgotten just how good the climbing in the low to mid-20 grade range is. The ignimbrite at the Bay doesn’t lend itself to quality hard climbing, and lower grade routes are few and far between, but the strong lines and interesting climbing on the classic moderate arêtes, cracks and pocketed faces is as good as anywhere. While it was nice to enjoy some old favourites, I was especially pleased that a few keen folk had spent some time in recent years cleaning up old forgotten routes, and establishing some new areas as well. One such previously neglected climb is Grameless (25), a stout Roland Foster number from 1985 at the Plateau. The rusty carrots, and wobbly old piton that used to protect the crux, have been replaced with bolts, producing a fine sport addition to the crag. Pictured above is your author, milliseconds away from failing on the aforementioned crux. Other really good new sport routes that have been added nearby at the Plateau include Nameless (26), Rough Trade (23) and So LA ext (22). But the real shining new jewel in the Bay’s crown is the Pacifica Wall in the Mangakara gorge. This wall offers a dozen or so new (or newly rebolted) routes of impeccable quality—they are long, airy and sustained climbs on good rock in one of the most enchanting settings you’ll ever climb in. A stop at the Bay is a must for any North Island road trip itinerary.





3 The Wall of Sound Unfortunately, 99 per cent of the rock on Mt Ruapehu is utter choss. But … when it’s good, it’s very good. The Wall of Sound, near Tukino Skifield, on the eastern side of the mountain, falls indisputably into that 1 per cent. The rock here is smooth andesite with unreal friction. All the climbs are sport routes, and while there are only 13 established lines on this particular crag, they’re all good, and there are a few more climbs scattered around the area to seek out. The set-up is particularly good for a climbing holiday, with a comfortable lodge at the roadend nearby. It’s also one of the most exotic sport climbing locations you’ll ever visit. Located high on an active volcano, the landscape is out of this world. This situation doesn’t come without hazards though—the crag sits directly in a lahar path, so while you are climbing you must keep your ear to the ground. If you hear a strange rumbling, the crater lake wall above you may have burst, in which case you will abandon all projects and run for your life. Look out for a couple of days of settled weather and put a visit to this crag on your roadtrip agenda.

INSET Zac Keegan has a quickdraw for lunch on Komakino (22). JOHN PALMER MAIN Jono Clarke on File Under Easy Listening (24). JOHN PALMER

If you’re passing through in early January 2015, you could sign up for the NZAC annual climbing camp, which will be based at the Tukino Alpine Sports Lodge from the 2nd to the 9th.





Beyond Yosemite



By Simon Carr, Dan Head and Gregory De Pascale


The Cirque of the Towers from Wolf’s Head, with Mitchell Peak on the left and Warbonnet Peak and the Warrior Peaks on the right. In 1976, Kiwi Calum Hudson, with Trevor Jones, made the first ascent of Feather Buttress, the very aesthetic, prominent buttress between light and shade on Warbonnett. In 1982, another Kiwi, Brent Davis, with Evelyn Lees, put up a variation on the North East Face of Warrior I (the left of the two Warrior Peaks in this photo). Their line ascends the left-hand side of the prominent foreground buttress. SIMON CARR



The Wind River Range BY SIMON CARR


he Wind River Range is in western Wyoming, roughly 120km south-east of Jackson Hole and the Teton Mountains. The range is mostly granite and extensive: 160km north to south, and 50km east to west. There are 31 peaks over 4000m, the highest being Gannet Peak (4208m). Grizzly and black bear, elk, moose, deer and wolves are found in these mountains, and the lakes and rivers have good trout fishing. The Wind Rivers are empty, with long approaches to remote mountains. Other than for fishing, permits are not required. No roads cross the range, which is bounded by high desert on both the east and west. There are four wilderness areas1, three managed by the Forest Service and one by the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes from the Wind River Reservation. As in many countries, the early ascents were generally in the name of exploration. Fremont Peak, the second highest point in the range, was climbed in 1842 when Lieutenant John Charles Fremont was sent to survey the Oregon Trail. After crossing the Continental Divide, the party took several days to climb the ‘loftiest’ peak of the Rocky Mountains. Fremont’s map proudly marked Fremont Peak (4190m) as the dominant point of the Rocky Mountains, giving the peak a prominent place in American culture for many years. Gannet Peak, the true highest point in both Wyoming and the Winds, was not climbed until 1922. 1 Designation as a wilderness area implies restrictions on access and also on permanent anchors.



TOPOGRAPHY OF THE WINDS The northern areas of the Winds are higher, glaciated and offer traditional mountaineering on snow, ice and gneiss-like rock. The usual objectives—with a two-day approach—are the highest peaks, Gannett and Fremont Peak. There are many other good moderate climbs from Titcomb and Indian Basins. The middle region is less popular for climbing, with two to three day approaches to Alpine Lakes, Mount Bonnevillle (3836m), Roberts Mountain (3891m) and countless other rock walls and pinnacles. The southern area offers superb granite rock climbing with one and two day approaches to routes of up to 600 metres high. The high point is Wind River Peak (3954m). This region includes the famous Cirque of the Towers, but also Deep Lake, the East Fork Valley and Mt Hooker. CLIMBING The usual climbing season is July to September. For most routes, a normal granite rack and two ropes will suffice. If you’re inclined to new routes, you may need pitons or bolts depending on your objective and the wilderness status (usually no new bolts are allowed). For the mountaineering routes on the northern peaks, ice axe, crampons and normal mountaineering gear are required. Although the summer weather is usually good, this is a continental climate and afternoon thunderstorms are common. The peaks are high enough that acclimatisation is needed. First climbing trips to the Winds are usu-

ally either to the well-known routes in the Cirque of the Towers or focus on an attempt on Gannett or Fremont. However, there is great climbing everywhere. Many of the rock routes are remote and, outside of the Cirque classics, may have had relatively few ascents. Other than in the most popular areas, you won’t see many other climbers. New route possibilities are numerous. The most common trailhead for the northern peaks is Elkhart Park, via a paved road from the town of Pinedale on the western side of the range. Fremont teams and climbers operating in Titcomb and Indian Basins use this approach. The 24km hike in is easy in terms of elevation gain. The northern peaks, in particular Gannet, can also be reached from Trail Lake via Dubois on the north-eastern side of the range. This is the starting point for the Glacier Trail, a spectacular backpacking route but a longer approach (37km). In Titcomb Basin, the mountaineering classics include Tower 1 Gully (III WI 3+) on Mt Helen, Tower Ridge (III 5.7/17), the North Ridge of Ellingwood Peak (III 5.6/16) and the West Face Right of Mt Sacagawea (III 5.9/19). For the southern rock climbing areas, the most common approach is through the town of Pinedale to Big Sandy on the south-western side of the range. This gives a 15km walk to the Cirque of the Towers over Jackass Pass, first passing Deep Lake at 9km. Big Sandy is also the approach for the East Fork Valley (20km). The Cirque of the Towers can be accessed from the east via Dickinson Park, reached via unpaved roads from Fort Washakie north

FACING PAGE Alex Tait on K Cracks (5.8), on the south buttress of Pingora. SIMON CARR ABOVE LEFT The East Ridge of Wolf’s Head (5.7), as seen from Pingora. SIMON CARR ABOVE RIGHT The Cirque of the Towers; Wolf’s Head on the left and Pingora on the right. SIMON CARR

of the town of Lander. The roads cross an Indian reservation and you are required to buy a tribal fishing permit ($60 in 2014). Cirque of the Towers is a 24km walk or horse ride from Dickinson Park. The Cirque of the Towers contains a number of spectacular granite peaks around 3700m, including two from the book Fifty Classic Climbs of North America: the East Ridge of Wolf’s Head (12 pitches, III 5.7/17) and the North East Buttress of Pingora (13 pitches, IV 5.9/19). There are many other great climbs on Sharkstooth, Warrior I and Warbonnet. There have been Kiwi first ascents in the Cirque: In 1976 Calum Hudson climbed Feather Buttress on Warbonnet, and in 1982 Brent Davis climbed a grade 5.10 (21) route on the North East Face of Warrior I. Closer to Big Sandy—a half-day walk—is Haystack Mountain (3650m) above Deep Lake. Haystack has around a dozen long slab/ crack routes in the grade 18–22 range, with other good climbs on East Temple (3840m) and Steeple (3670m). East Fork Valley—with the stunning peaks of Raid, Ambush and Midsummer Dome, which are all around 3800m—offers climbing comparable with the Cirque, but has fewer crowds and the climbs are generally more serious undertakings. There are a number of long classic routes in the grade 17–26 range, up to 600 metres high on the eastern walls of Raid and Ambush. Also in the southern region is Mt Hooker (3813m), which rises 600m above Baptiste Lake and has grade VI routes on its north face. Hooker can be reached from either Big Sandy (29km) or Dickinson Park (24km). The north face was first climbed in 1964 over three days with some aid by Royal Robbins, and was the first Grade VI climb outside of Yosemite. In 1990, Todd Skinner freed this route at 5.12 (26). On the north and east faces there are now around a dozen routes and variations, all with difficult aid and/or free climbing up to grade 5.14 (32).

CAMPING AND ACCESS CONSIDERATIONS Campsites are typically at 3000m or so. Because many of the peaks are a considerable distance from the trailhead, it’s common to horse-pack in to your base camp if you’re going in for a week. This can include walking or riding in (for more dollars). For Cirque of the Towers, packing can only be from the east (Dickinson Park2) as the western approach from Big Sandy over Jackass Pass is too steep for horses. West side outfitters operate from Pinedale. East side outfitters operate from the Wind River Indian Reservation, Lander or Dubois. Although many climbers do utilise horses, most of the packing business is fishing parties and hiking. Taking suitable maps is advisable, as some of the descents are into a different valley than you started from. For cooking …you’ll need a stove. The mosquitoes can be very bad, particularly in June and July. Bug repellent and head-nets are mandatory. Although bears are not usually a problem, food storage rules at campsites should be followed. In popular areas, particularly Cirque of the Towers, water sources are compromised. Water purification tablets are necessary. You may also want to consider using WAG bags or at a minimum taking a trowel. GUIDEBOOKS AND OTHER REFERENCES • Trip reports and beta online at and • Climbing and Hiking the Wind River Mountains by Joe Kelsey, Falcon Press. Third Edition, 2013. The Bible of Wind River climbing. • Fifty Classic Climbs of North America by Steve Roper and Allan Steck, latest edition 1996. • Fred Beckey’s 100 Favorite North American Climbs by Fred Beckey, Patagonia Books, 2011 2 Indicative cost from Dickinson Park: In 2014, $200 per horse per day. Including the wrangler (one per four horses), around $400 to the cirque one way for one pack horse carrying 140lbs.

OTHER INFORMATION The Wind Rivers are part of two national forests, the Bridger-Teton on the west and the Shoshone on the east. Contact details: • Bridger-Teton National Forest, Pinedale Ranger District, 29 E Fremont Lake Road, PO Box 220, Pinedale, WY 82941. Phone: 307-367-4326 • Shoshone National Forest, Washakie Ranger District, 600 North Highway 287, Lander, WY 82520. Phone: 307-332-5460 • There are climbing stores in Jackson Hole (Teton Mountaineering) and in Lander (Wild Iris Mountain Sports). These are the largest towns near the Winds. CRAGGING There is lots of other climbing in Wyoming. • Firstly, the Tetons, near Jackson Hole, with rock climbing and mountaineering, up to 4200m on the Grand Teton. • Sinks Canyon and Wild Iris near Lander offer single-pitch limestone sport climbing. • Ten Sleep Canyon in northern Wyoming has single-pitch limestone sport climbing. • Devils Tower is in eastern Wyoming, near the South Dakota border. Here you’ll find multi-pitch basalt crack climbing, including the Durrance Route (5.7/17), which is also in Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. • Fremont Canyon contains basalt cracks above the Platte River, near Caspar in the middle of the state. • Veedauwoo is several hours drive south near the Colorado border. There are granite formations here reminiscent of Joshua Tree and City of Rocks. Except that the cracks are wide, real wide! Simon Carr is a member of the NZAC CanterburyWestland Section. He has lived in Washington DC (that well known climbing area!) since 1999 and can be reached at



The High Sierra The Needles, The Incredible Hulk and Lover’s Leap BY DAN HEAD



The evening light in the Sierra mountains was spectacular. The beautiful shapes of the skyline with the absorbing colours made this already special place feel greater than a dream. We were experiencing life in its utmost glory.


hree years ago, three friends and I embarked on a Californian road trip to sample some classic American granite before heading to Yosemite Valley. This is a short insight into the granite wonderland of the High Sierras. The train whistle blew as it left the San Fransisco station. Dusty fields passed by the window with not even a small hill in sight. The American dream journey had begun! The train arrived at Bakersfield. I was lucky to be meeting up with a rad climbing buddy Karl ‘Merry’ Schimanski and an American/ German couple, CJ and Anna. Fully loaded with snacks and supplies, our first destination would be the Needles, a beautiful series of granite pinnacles up to 200 metres high on a wild mountain range. It was late August and the end of the Californian summer still had some fierce heat to it. Perfect blue skies stretched as far as the eye could see. Climbing at the Needles is rad! The rock is firm and has multiple splitter cracks and some spectactular free climbing on inspiring slabs and faces. Bright yellow lichen covers some of the unclimbed rock and the ocasional falcon glides past on the thermal winds. Most of the climbs require traditional protection but have bolted anchors. We were psyched to try some of the classics from the Masters of Stone videos such as Airy Interlude (5.9/16) and Atlantis (5.11c/23). White Punks on Dope (5.9+/17) proved a real thriller with epic ten-metre run-outs on the final, bolted slab. Our confidence and progress was helped by Merry's mantra of: 'Sticky rubber is sticky!' Merry and CJ managed to redpoint Romantic Warrior (5.12+/27) which was incredibly impressive. Two years later I returned with another legendary Kiwi climber, Dave Hood, to attempt this line. A fast moving thunderstorm encouraged us to retreat a couple of pitches shy of the top after battling through the two grade 5.12- pitches before the crux pitch. Taking multiple whippers on an old rusty peg that kept holding was a personal highlight!

Finding the climbs and walking trails proved to be the biggest crux of the area. The guide, if you can find it, is very basic and there is nothing at the base of the routes to let you know you’re on the right track. Finding a local climber would be ideal to help find the crags and routes. Once you find the climbs though, they are impeccable and the area makes for a great pre-Yosemite trip in August. Another classic High Sierras area is the Incredible Hulk, a 400-metre granite monolith with stunning climbing. Due to the high elevation, climbing in the sun here in August is no problem. Pretty much every route is three stars, so that helps as well! Sun-spot (5.11b/22) and Positive Vibations (5.11a/21) were personal favourites, especially as I did the Positive Vibrations ascent with purple shorts and green body paint for the fun of it! For the strong climbers out there, The Venturi Effect (5.12+/27) is one of Peter Croft's favourite first ascents. In fact, Peter claims it is ‘one of the best 5.12s in the country’. Great footage of this area can be seen in the 2010 Reel Rock tour series of films. Finding the Incredible Hulk can be challenging, especially when you're on the lookout for bears! Thankfully there are no grizzlys here and the brown or black bears can be distracted with fair ease or a picnic basket if neccessary. For those looking for more modest grades, the Lover's Leap area, in Tahoe, is awesome. The classic there is Bear’s Reach (5.9/16) a full-value three-pitch trad route with awesome features. This was actually the first climb Hood and I did in America together. We speed-simul-climbed the 120-metre route in 26 minutes. That’s slow compared to Dan Osman's free-solo 4-minute ascent, but not too bad for a couple of laid-back Kiwis. We were blown away by the beautiful surroundings, rad climbing, unique wildlife and the amazing Californian people. If you dare to dream, let yourself be immersed in everything Californian and dream on. It is such a unique and rad experience that will stay with you forever.

FACING PAGE CJ and Anna on Atlantis (5.11c/23) on the Sorcerer Wall, the Needles. DAN HEAD LEFT TOP The beautiful trail into the ‘Hulk’. DAN HEAD RIGHT TOP Dave Hood following pitch five on Romantic Warrior (5.12+/26+). DAN HEAD ABOVE The author posing as the Hulk on Positive Vibrations (5.11a/21). KARL SCHIMANSKI




n n


Get your psych up by watching some epic American climbing videos, then get training! Do lots of research and draw your own topos to help know where you're going. Try to meet up with a local who knows the area. Buy Cliff bars for your climbing fuel and eat in as many Mexican restaurants as possible. (Taco Bell is great if you're on a tight budget). Avoid packing berries and salmon in your picnic basket (they’re a bear’s favourite food).



The High Sierra Tuolomne meadows BY GREGORY DE PASCALE




lmost a decade ago, up high in the Canadian Rockies on one of the 50 classics of North America, with wet avalanches coming down all around us, and the fear of death in his eyes, my mate Dave started with the fairy tales: ‘We should go to California dude, no grizzlys, no mosquitos, good rock, cheap burritos, no thunderstorms, no avalanches, good wine and lots of cute girls.’ The thunder of the avalanches stopped for a wee bit and I could think. After a wickedly poor spring weather window, and better spring skiing than climbing, Dave’s plan was starting to sound okay. ‘Tell me more’ I said. He did and he won. We rapped off, downclimbed, and drove down from Jasper, Alberta to Toulumne Meadows, California. The tript involved 35 hours of driving but we took our time and hit a few volcanoes on the way. We put the crampons away and pulled out the rock shoes. We got there and he was right about all his claims. The rock was solid. There were no mosquitos, the food was cheap, the girls were cute, and there were no more grizzly bears (they have been extinct in California for about 100 years). Yosemite Valley has the big rep, but Tuolumne Meadows, in the Yosemite high country, is also a paradise, with some of the best climbing in the world. You don’t see articles about Alex Honnold or Mayan SmithGobat climbing up mean walls in Tuolumne because the walls are not as big as in the Valley. But they are still big (up to 300 metres high), and the rock is very solid, dependable granite (specifically, the rock is Cathedral Peak granodiorite. It has huge white feldspar crystals that you pinch, bear-hug, and sometimes sling for protection). There are lots of cracks for protection, unless you are on a face, in which case you’ll have to rely on your climbing skill (and the occassional bolt). Between June and October the average daily temperature in Yosemite Valley is higher than 27 degrees and it often gets to the high 30s, which is not great for climbing. As I write this, my partner Tory is imploring me: ‘Don’t write this, please, I don’t want you to ruin Tuolumne, remember there are like 40 million people in the Valley.’ I’m not worried though—there is enough rock in Tuolomne to go around, and inspiring New Zealand-based climbers to go check out the best climbing in North America is a public service. Up in Tuolumne Meadows, at around 2600m, the weather is often perfect, the air is dry, and there is virtually an unlimited

FACING PAGE Tory Ewing halfway up the long, sweet classic West Ridge of Mt Conness. GREGORY DE PASCALE ABOVE LEFT The view from the Cathedral Traverse in spring. TORY EWING RIGHT TOP Hiking out after climbing Matthas Crest with Cathedral Peak in the background. TERRAY SYLVESTER RIGHT BOTTOM Celebrations after climbing a 300-metre route on Fairview Dome. GREGORY DE PASCALE

amount of rock. The climbing varies from one pitch and easy, to several pitches and difficult. There are a few sporty ‘sport’ routes, but these mostly require soloing with a couple of bolts on a 60-metre pitch—not for the faint of heart! There is lots of bouldering as well, and the holds feel huge if you are used to Castle Hill limestone! Oh, and there are a couple of long alpine ice routes as well if you’re interested in that type of thing (there are good ones on Mt Dana and North Peak). On a recent trip, we found long beautiful routes with amazing views, great moves and very fun climbing. Trusting your toes on tiny crystals takes a bit of time but once you find your feet it’s a blast.

Tuolumne Valley is about 2000m higher than Yosemite Valley. You can see the famous Half Dome as you drive into the valley, and there is granite all around, but you are up above the heat and have nice lakes and rivers to swim in. You will likely see famous climbers hanging out post-climb at the meadows store having a beer or a burger. So yes, the hype is mostly true. California is perfect, California is great, California has the most beautiful climbing, the best food and perfect weather. Think about California when a southerly is battering down on your house in New Zealand. And if you get bored of Tuolomne, well, Yosemite Valley is just down the road. THE CLIMBER ISSUE 89, SPRING 2014


THE EVOLUTION OF THE ALPINE PACK STEVE FORTUNE explores how the changing style of mountain climbing has altered an alpinist’s requirements for this core piece of kit.


he first 'proper' peak that I climbed (Mt Aspiring) was with my first tramping pack, the somewhat hefty 90-litre, 2800g, canvas Macpac Cascade. On the climb, it was practically empty, so it seemed a complete waste of effort to lug all that extra weight up and down. I swore to do better next time. Back in those days, everyone used the Macpac Pursuit, so I hunted around for an second hand one. The Pursuit was about 55-litres and 1800g, some good savings over the tramping pack. It just fitted enough gear for an ascent of the South West Ridge of Aspiring from a snowcave bivvy. I squeezed everything I needed into it for the walk in, but it still seemed far too big and heavy for the actual climb and I pondered if I could do even better. Many routes involve a walk in to a hut or bivvy, requiring a large pack, then a climb requiring only a small one. I wanted to try using a super light pack to climb, and leave the heavy one behind at the bivvy. Not options for this were available at the time, so I made up my own solution. I got a few sheets of nylon and some webbing and sewed up a pack. I was pretty happy with the result, it was about 15–20-litres and 200g, and rolled up small. It was easy to stuff into a larger pack for a walk in. I also designed it with a rather clever feature, if I say so myself—it could be strapped to the outside of my Pursuit using its side compression straps, turning it into a an overload flap/bag addition. 44


This pack did its job admirably for a number of trips. Despite its flimsy appearance and bad workmanship it held up fine, and is still going strong to this day. It has only a couple of small duct­tape patches to show for its use. These days the choice of lightweight packs is much better so you don't need to go and sew your own. For example, the Macpac packable backpack weighs just 140g, packs down to the size of your fist and best of all, it only costs $30. If you want a summit pack, that's hard to beat. In 2006 I moved to Scotland and my pack needs changed again. Rather than the three-day trip pack I required in New Zealand, I needed a pack for climbs that I’d do in a day, with no bivvy gear. Also, the routes I wanted to climb to climb were technical and difficult, so reducing weight on the climbs became very important. My first pack was the awesome Cactus Alpine Henry, at 25–30-litres and 600g. The Alpine Henry was a bit on the small side for the large rack, ropes and warm clothes I wanted to carry. Ironically, I needed more warm stuff than for an alpine route, so I tended towards a more comfortable 35-litre pack. There were plenty of options, as that was the standard alpine pack size, a fact I struggled to believe at first. But I took one on my first trip to the Alps to climb the north face of the Grandes Jorasses. I carefully but sucessfully stuffed all my gear into a 35-litre pack for the route, which included three bivvies: at the base, on the face and on the descent. This style of pack became my default go-to for the next few years and I have used a number of them, including the OMM Jirishanca, the Crux AK37, and the Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 30 Hyperlite. They are generally around the 35-litre and 700g mark, unframed, with a simple piece of foam down the back, doubling as a sleeping pad. They have no elaborate hip-belt to get in the way. They are constructed from a light nylon or dyneema fabric that has always lasted well enough for my needs. These packs hit the sweet spot for me. They’re big enough to get the climbing gear and bivvy kit I need for a big route in, and light enough that I can still climb without the

pack encumbering me unduly. There is nothing fancy, or revolutionary about them, the have no bells or whistles. They have been around for a while and they can be made cheaply. I realised I'd never use my Pursuit again and gave it away. People in New Zealand seem to be stuck on the idea that a pack needs to be canvas and so robust that it can be passed on to your grandchildren. I am sympathetic to this idea, I hate a throwaway society, but I wonder if this attitude is born from marketing rather than reality? I have used lightweight packs now for about eight years and on hundreds of routes and I’ve never thrown a single one away due to wear. I only had to retire one after premature demise when it was eaten by a rodent at the base of a route in Colorado. Yes these packs get holes in them, but with the occasional patch made of duct tape and seam grip, they can keep going for a good while. As this style of pack is hard to find in New Zealand, and is such a vast improvement over the older style of packs traditionally used here, Macpac, in conjunction with the New Zealand Alpine Team, have designed a new alpine pack that I think hits this sweet spot for alpine pack design at 35-litres and 600g. I have so far used it on day trips and multi­day trips, alpine climbing in Patagonia, Alaska and New Zealand. It carried a full tent and sleeping gear up to Homer Saddle for some comfortable camping (it was well overloaded, but did the job). Then it stripped down small enough to be unobtrusive when rock­climbing on Moirs Mate. It handled the walk in with full gear to Turners Biv, but again was light and mostly empty for the climb up Tutoko. It is a compromise—it’s too small when fully loaded and too big for a day trip, but it manages to cross the boundary well. These packs require a more lightweight approach to

packing, if you are used to the traditional New Zealand 50-litre pack. A comprehensive approach to lightweight compact gear is best, but I find the biggest savings are in sleeping and cooking gear. Going to an alpine hut with blankets? Leave your sleeping bag behind. If I take a sleeping bag these days it's a compact summer bag around 500g and I'll sleep in my down or primaloft jacket. I leave the big pot and pan sets at home, along with bowls, plates, cups and all that stuff. I'll normally go with a Jetboil and a Backcountry meal, then eat the rest of my meals out of the Backcountry foil packet. In Nepal we shared one spoon between three, but feel free to bring your own spoon!

FACING PAGE Fred de Zwart descending Mt Aspiring with 90-litre pack. STEVE FORTUNE

ABOVE LEFT The author climbing technical ground with a lightweight 35-litre pack. This photo was taken on a multi­-day attempt at a new route on a 6500m peak in Nepal. The team was carrying a bivvy tent, sleeping bags, and food and fuel for three days. Unfortunately this style of pack has been unpopular and hard to find in New Zealand. BEN DARE


ABOVE RIGHT The author using the new 35-litre Macpac alpine pack on the South East Ridge of Mt Tutoko. JULIA VALIGORE



ALPINE ABSEILING It surprises me how few mountain climbers use the safest and simplest method to abseil down a climb leaving minimal gear. Usually, if you plan to abseil down a climb, either placing your own abseil points or by using old ones already in place, you will need a few basic things. In addition to your standard rack of climbing gear pack some extra 6mm cord (around 10m is usually good), a knife, two screamers, a short prussick, a safety sling, and your ropes. When descending a long route, it is possible you could use your entire climbing rack building abseil stations if you place more than one piece at each anchor. This could leave you stuck halfway up a mountain with no means of continuing your descent. Therefore it is typical when abseiling in the mountains to leave single-piece abseil stations. However, single-piece abseil stations increase the risk of anchor failure (over multiple-piece stations). On long, complicated descents there is also a risk that fatigue will play a factor in poor decision making. Having a standard procedure for how you descend will help reduce the risk of anchor failure. Having a set process that you follow for every abseil ensures that when you are super tired on a long and stressful descent, the chance of you taking short-cuts or making a mistake are reduced.

PICKING A GOOD DESCENT LINE Try to avoid loose rock or abseil lines that are directly below objective hazards like cornices. If you must abseil down over bad rock where their is risk of knocking something onto people below you, or cutting your ropes, try to pick abseil stations that are sheltered from potential rock-fall from your partner coming down, or rock-fall when you pull your ropes. If your line is subject to ice- or snow-fall, consider waiting until night, when colder temperatures will reduce the risk of being hit by falling ice, and melting snow releasing rock fall.

SETTING THE FIRST ABSEIL The next set of rules apply for both fixed abseil stations and abseil stations you create yourself. Build a solid anchor (not the piece of protection you plan to abseil from), then place your single-piece abseil point. Look for rock spikes or bollards you can sling to save your hardware. If you’re on ice look for a solid, well-formed piece of ice to make a v-thread. Connect your primary anchor to your abseil point with a screamer. Ensure that the primary anchor connection to the abseil point has some slack, so it’s taking none of the weight (see fig 1). While still connected to the primary anchor, attach yourself to the single-piece abseil point. Bounce-test this piece. Ensure your bounce-test uses as much force as you can apply. Jump up and down, and also give your anchor an outwards pull, ensuring it can take force from multiple directions.

PREPARING THE SINGLE-PIECE ABSEIL POINT FOR USE Now that you have bounce-tested your abseil point, you can be fairly sure that it will hold the weight of a descending climber. There is no need to leave a carabiner on this piece. If you are using a rock spike or bollard slung with prussick or sling, just thread the rope through. If you are leaving a wire, take a small piece of prussick cord and make a loop running through the wire for the rope to run through (this saves you potentially damaging your rope by having it running directly on the wire) it also makes the rope easier to pull. If your piece is a cam, just put the rope directly through the sling on the cam. Once the rope has been threaded, clip the screamer, which is attached to the primary anchor, into your single-piece abseil point. Ensure that it is not taking any of the weight from the abseil, but not so loose that it will shock-load the abseil point if it fails.

Ben Dare abseiling on the south face of Barrier Peak in the Darran Mountains after an aborted first ascent attempt. DANIEL JOLL






DECIDING IF THE ROPES NEED TO BE THROWN OR COILED If you are abseiling down a steep, clean face, it might be possible to simply throw your ropes. To avoid any tangles, throw them with the free end of the rope first, one rope at a time. Before throwing the ropes ensure you have tied a knot in the end of each rope. If you have high winds, or are abseiling down broken ground with a risk of rock-fall, the safest thing to do is coil your ropes into several small bundles, tie them to your harness and throw them progressively as you make your descent. I like to make my loops of rope around 15 metres long. I throw the first 15 metres, leaving three coils clipped to each side of my harness. As you descend, throw the remaining coils one by one as they are needed. This technique stops my rope getting tangled, dislodging loose rocks, or getting blown away when it’s really windy. When the wind is up, there is a risk that your rope will be blown away and get caught on something out of reach.

ATTACHING YOURSELF TO YOUR ABSEIL LINE Always use a prussick as a back-up when abseiling in the mountains. The prussick is there to ensure that if you are knocked out or hit by rock-fall, you don't simply drop down your ropes. It is also useful to have a prussick so you can have your hands free to do things like sort out any tangles in the rope or climb sideways to check out the abseil line. I prefer to have my abseil device attached on a sling, so it sits away from my harness. I have my prussick connected to my harness and sitting under the abseil device (see fig 3).

SET THE ROLES FOR ABSEILING JUST LIKE IN CLIMBING In any abseiling team, there is a leader and a follower. Both have separate roles to fulfil. The leader (the first person to go down the abseil) must take the climbing rack. The leader should have the best headtorch if abseiling at night. Appoint the leader in advance of the descent, so everyone knows their role before the time comes. The leader will go first, taking all the gear and will rig the next abseil. The follower will remove the back-up anchor and abseil off the single-piece anchor.

Fig 1. Single-piece anchor (wire) with prussick for the rope to run through, backed up by a cam and a screamer. The screamer has been extended off the cam so it sits just below the prussick. This ensures it takes none of the actual weight from the abseil.

THE ABSEIL When abseiling an ice line ensure you kick off any daggers that threaten your line. This makes sure your rope will not dislodge them when you are below. If your line has with loose rock, push or kick off any bits that might fall on you. Ensure your ropes are out of the way so that rocks cannot fall onto your ropes and cut them. The leader abseils first and 10–15 metres before the end of the ropes, starts to look for a new abseil point. Think of the basics: Will my rope pull easily from here? Am I protected at this stance from objects falling from above? Will my new abseil point allow me to easily continue my descent? Is there good protection to build my new anchor from? Before beginning your abseil, secure the rope you intend to pull. Always confirm which rope you will pull with your partner. On a long descent, it’s easy to forget which rope to pull.

BUILDING THE NEXT ABSEIL STATION First the leader places the single piece of protection that will be used for the next abseil. They then clip into this piece of protection. Remaining on the main abseil line, the leader can safely bounce-test the new anchor; they should use as much force as possible, and ensure both downwards and outwards force is applied. Next the leader should build a back-up for the single-piece abseil line. Once the back up is in place and clipped (with a little slack) to the single-abseil point they then come off the main abseil line, while remaining clipped in to the new abseil point. Ensure that you are clipped in in such a way that all climbers are clipped to the single-piece abseil point and are also attached to the back-up for the abseil anchor. Before calling, ‘Ropes free’, take your second screamer and connect it to the single-piece abseil anchor. Then knot the ends of the abseil line and connect them to the screamer. This ensures that if the top anchor fails while your partner is abseiling, there is a chance the new anchor will hold their fall. This might save both of you because if the top anchor fails while your partner is abeiling, you will be stuck high up on a mountain with no ropes. Use a screamer in this situation to reduce any force on your bottom anchor.

Fig 2. This photo shows how a climber can clip into both the abseil point and have their carabiner through the back-up piece of protection. Note that the back-up is not tight on the rope, ensuring all the abseil weight goes to the single-piece anchor. This is important as it means that when the final climber abseils and removes the back-up they are not changing the strength of the abseil point.

PULLING THE ROPES Leading the abseils is hard work, especially when you’re tired. Therefore, to share the workload, the follower(s) should do the work of pulling the ropes. Before you pull the ropes ensure all knots are out from the ends, and the end you are pulling is threaded through the anchor ready for the next abseil. If necessary, clip the rope to one of your harnesses to ensure it does not get dropped. After the rope is pulled and begins to fall be aware of falling ice or rocks that get dislodged as the rope comes down. Keep in close to the wall with your head down. This article first appeared on the New Zealand Alpine Team website:

Fig 3. This photo shows the standard way to attach a prussick to a harness, with your belay device extended on a harness sling. Note the carabiner at the end of the harness sling clipped to one of the abseil ropes above the belay device. Always clip this to the rope you intend to pull.




BLACK DIAMOND SPEED 30 PACK (2014 VERSION) ABOUT A year ago (issue 84), I wrote a review of Black Diamond’s 2010–2013 Speed 30 pack. I really didn’t like it as a climbing pack. I gave it two out of five stars and sold it soon after the review was written. Black Diamond has now completely revamped their pack lineup, including the Speed series, and I have recently purchased the new 2014 Speed 30 and given it a thorough testing. I am not vain enough to think that my complaints about the previous edition had any effect on the redesign but other, more influential people must have had the same or similar complaints because most of the issues mentioned in the previous review have been addressed. The end result is a comfortable, traditionally styled, top-loading pack with a number of very slick features. The Speed series shares similar features throughout the range and comes in 30, 40 and 55 litre sizes. And each pack comes in three different frame sizes. There is also a Speed 22, but this is a different design. One thing that has remained the same is the ReActiv suspension system. This is essentially a cable connecting the two shoulder straps so that when you move your shoulders and arms, the pack ‘slides’ with thesystem, which allows more freedom of movement in your arms for climbing or skiing, while the pack remains stable on your back. This feels a bit weird at first but I soon find myself missing this feature on my other packs. Aside from that, the pack is almost completely different. Much lighter fabrics (21d and 420d nylon) are used on the pack (more appropriate for a light and fast pack with the name ‘Speed’) and much thinner webbing is used for the straps. The frame, hipbelt, lid, front straps and crampon straps are all removable, but the pack is still at the heavy end of the spectrum of 30-litre packs (it’s 1.16kg at full weight). The foam back-panel is smooth, so there are no ridges for snow to get packed into or to ice up, but the fabric covering it is a bit delicate. The hipbelt is much smaller and the shoulder straps narrower than on the previous gen-



eration, however, they are adequate for the sort of loads a 30-litre pack should be expected to carry. The lid has two nice pockets, and is easily removed. There is a tuck-away rope strap and a nice extension collar with traditional drawstring closure. The drawstrings can be opened and closed with one hand—very slick. Crampon straps are supplied, but they are a bit fiddly to use. My biggest disappointment is with the ice- tool carrying system. This consists of a pair of velcro straps at the top and a little ‘Micro Pick Pocket’ which secures the heads of the tools with a buckled strap. This system works really well for tools with a prominent hammer or adze, but for those tools without (like Black Diamond’s own Fusion) the pick pocket allows the head of the tool to rotate, causing the strap securing the head to fall off. A wider pick pocket would prevent the tools from rotating. I’ve not lost my tools due to this poor design but I certainly keep an eye on them. Another complaint is the bladder pocket in the main compartment. One of the things I really like about bladder pockets in general is how handy they are for putting other things in when you’ve left the lid at home. They are the perfect size for a guidebook or snacks. The bladder pocket on the Speed has a big hole at the bottom to let the hose out (completely unnecessary), which is not big enough for a guidebook to fall through into the bottom of the pack, but your keys, phone or wallet might. The bottom line: This is a fantastic pack with a number of really well thought out features. It has a few small flaws and one major one (the ice tool carrying system) but it is still a top contender in the 30-litre pack market. It’s a huge improvement on the previous generation. Those looking for a beefier pack should check out Black Diamond’s Epic Series, which have a similar overall design but uses more durable fabrics. Black Diamond Speed 30 pack. HHHHH –Graham Johnson


TRANGO ALPINE AIDER THE TRANGO Alpine Aider is one of my favourite pieces of gear that almost never gets used. It fits into a rather small niche in the marketplace, targeting the alpine climber who might have to pull a few moves of aid on a climb, but who doesn’t want to drag their big-wall aiders up a climb on the off-chance they might have to use them for a few moves. As far as usability goes, it falls somewhere between simply stepping in a sling as aid and using a fully-fledged aider. If you have ever had to aid through a section by tying slings together you will recognise the usefulness of this handy little aider. The Alpine Aider is essentially a three-step aider sewn onto a dyneema rabbit runner. A rabbit runner is a single-length, non-looped sling sewn with a loop at each end. This means that you can even use your Alpine Aider as a runner if you really get into a pinch—it’s rated to 12Kn according to the Trango website. The Alpine Aider is especially handy for cheating your way up that short sketchy bit that would take a long time to free climb on an alpine route. It’s not designed for any serious aid climbing—it’s too short and too lightly built for that. But it has all of the basic features of a real aider, including a large grab loop at the top, which is big enough to grab even when wearing bulky gloves, and three steps, which are sized to fit double boots or rock shoes. Each step has a stiffener in it to keep it open for ease of use. There is even a short bit of bungee on the lowest step to keep your

boot in there if you are a jugging a pitch. Trango claims that you can use the large grab loop at the top as a fourth step, but I’ve never had to use it like that. All of this packs into a little nylon bag that is sewn to the top of the aider (so you can’t lose it) to make a nice small package when carrying it on your harness. When I’m alpine climbing and I think there might be a possibility that I’d like to cheat my way up a short section, I clip my Alpine Aider to the back of my harness on the same ‘biner as my knife and tat. At 82g, this is lightweight enough that I hardly notice it until I need it. The fact that I can use it as a runner in a pinch makes it that much easier to justify bringing it along. The closest competitor is the Metolius Alpine Aider, but at almost 200g it is a much more serious aider than the Trango. If I had to find some criticism of it, I would say I’d prefer a slightly smaller bag. The current bag is a little big, and I would prefer to have the bag with a drawcord insted of a little velcro flap, but the current set-up works just fine and I’ve never had any problems with it. The bottom line: This is a very handy tool for aiding up short sections on a climb. It works great for its intended purpose but it is too lightweight to be used for any serious aiding. Highly recommended for chicken alpinists. Trango Alpine Aider. HHHHH –Graham Johnson


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EARTH SEA SKY KATIPO SOFTSHELL PANTS AND FIRST LAYER MID-WEIGHT LONG JOHNS A PAIR of long johns seems like an odd thing to write a review about. But I was recently considering what makes a really good piece of kit and my Earth Sea Sky First Layer long johns stood out as a product of exemplary quality. They’re a seemingly basic pair of polyester leggings, but I’ve had mine for more than 15 years, and they don’t have a single run, hole or loose thread. They’ve also retained their shape remarkably well, they haven’t gone all stretchy baggy anywhere. Earth Sea Sky haven’t changed the design in that time, which suggests they feel the same way about them as I do. I’ve owned and discarded at least half a dozen other pairs in the time I’ve owned my First Layer ones, due to the other types wearing out (including both expensive merino ones and cheap polypro ones). The First Layer long johns are brushed inside so they feel good against the skin, and are just the right weight for all season use. Maximum respect to Earth Sea Sky for producing what is, in my opinion, a perfect product. Now, with that kind of legacy in leg cover design, the Katipo softshell pants have got a lot to live up to! I got a pair of these simple, black, thermalite stretch pants at the beginning of winter, and have worn them for a variety of activities since.

I’ve worn them ski-touring, on-piste skiing, alpine climbing, ice and mixed climbing, cragging, bouldering, indoor climbing, and around town (to work and such). For all those activities I could have used some existing leg-wear option from my wardrobe, but the Katipos ended up being my preference for almost every climbing or skiing day I’ve had since I got them. I was reflecting the other day that these are one of the most useful unneccessary products I own. You can get away without owning a pair of soft-shell pants, but your life will be slightly better if you do. They’re light, comfortable, shed snow and are windproof enough. They breath well and seem pretty tough. The cut is non-descript, which is fine, you’re not at a fashion show in the mountains. I far prefer wearing these to hard-shell pants, due to the weight, breathability and more fitting cut. They have two zipped hip pockets, no back pockets, a gussetted crotch and belt loops. I’ll probably be wearing these for 15 years too. For a picture of the Katipos in action, see page 33. Earth Sea Sky First Layer long johns. RRP $79. HHHHH Earth Sea Sky Katipo soft-shell pants. RRP $259. HHHHH –Kester Brown

CAMP AIR CR HARNESS THE ALPINE harness has always been a bit of a trade-off. You could either go with a fully featured harness which was comfortable but heavy and bulky in the pack, or a lightweight harness with few amenities that was very packable but uncomfortable for falling and hanging in. The CAMP Air CR is a fully featured harness, with a wide foam waistbelt and leg loops, four gear loops, haul loop in the back, two ice clipper slots, a belay loop and quick-adjust buckles on both the leg loops and waist, all for 289g. On a recent overseas climbing trip, a disproportionate number of climbers (including myself) were wearing this harness. Why? CAMP has really thought this one through: it’s a lightweight, relatively inexpensive harness that ticks all of the boxes for both alpine rock and ice while still remaining comfortable enough for all-around use. It’s the best ice and alpine climbing harness that I’ve used, and is passable for rock climbing. The four gear loops are appropriately sized for a full rack, and the ice clipper slots are positioned so as not to interfere with the gear loops. The quick-adjust buckles make it easy to put the harness on and get it tight while wearing gloves. The leg loops and waist loops adjust to a large enough size to get into while wearing boots and crampons. Climbing in it is comfortable—unlike with bulkier harnesses, I never really notice that I’m wearing it, even when carrying a pack. Falling in it is actually reasonably comfortable considering how light it is. Hanging in it is not too bad, but it’s certainly not the most comfortable. It’s comfortable and capable enough that it’s the only harness I will bring if I’m travelling, regardless of whether I’m climbing multi-pitch rock routes in Squamish or alpine ice routes in Peru. (I do have a dedicated rock harness whuch, while bulky, is much more comfortable.) Another cool feature is CAMP’s ‘No-Twist’ belay loop. The belay loop has an extra layer of webbing sewn onto it so that you can slip your belay carabiner between the layers and it will prevent the carabiner from cross-loading. This is handy for single



pitch climbing but is a bit annoying if you’re climbing multiple pitches and moving you belay biner from your harness to the anchor every pitch. For all its attributes, there are a few small things that I don’t like about the Air CR: I would like the ice clipper slots and the gear loops to be a bit further forward, as I sometimes struggle to see what is on the back gear loops, especially when wearing winter clothing. The ice clipper slots could also use more robust stitching to attach them to the harness—I’ve been using mine for over two years now with no problems, but I have seen the clipper slots on some other climbers’ harnesses start to rip off. The elastic connecting the waist belt and leg loop is not easily removable, making it hard to keep the wasitbelt on while you answer certain types of nature’s calls. The haul loop is fairly wimpy (even calling it a haul loop is generous) and attached to the upper edge of the wasitbelt, this means that if you have something heavy like a rope on it, the weight will roll the top edge of the waistbelt down making it uncomfortable. This could be easily fixed by just attaching the haul loop to the bottom edge of the harness instead of the top. Putting the harness on while wearing skis is challenging as it is difficult to un-thread the quick-adjust buckles, especially when wearing gloves. It is far easier to put the harness on before clipping into your skis. The construction is unusual—coarse mesh over bright green foam. While the harness is durable, the mesh is prone to getting cosmetic runs in it, sort of like fishnet stockings. Finally, as neat as the ‘No-Twist’ feature on the belay loop is, it’s not really appropriate for an alpine harness and I never use it. The bottom line: If you’re looking for an alpine harness that can do everything, look no further. This is a great, super-lightweight and fully featured harness that performs well from Arapiles to Aoraki. CAMP Air CR Harness. HHHHH –Graham Johnson


ECHOES OF A DREAM A crag rat’s tale

By Alan Richard McHardy Reviewed by Tony Charlton ECHOES OF A DREAM is the life story of Alan McHardy, a well-known British climber of the ‘60s and ‘70s. In the early stages of his climbing career, Alan became known as ‘Richard’ and the reason for the change is explained in the second chapter. Richard started life in the early 1940s in a working class suburb of Manchester and left school with no qualifications. After he became an apprentice joiner, Richard went hiking in Derbyshire with a workmate and got to know a group of climbers, one of whom took him on his first rock climb. It wasn’t long before he was also bitten by the climbing bug. Richard became a founder member of the legendary Alpha Club in 1956, along with a number of other wellknown climbers of that era. Over the next few years Richard became an accomplished rock climber and by the early ‘60s he was climbing some of the hardest climbs in Britain and had begun climbing in the Alps. There are plenty of good quality photos throughout the book. The book contains several exciting accounts of Richard’s climbs of some of the big faces in the Alps. Richard and Tut Braithwaite teamed up with Graeme Dingle and Murray Jones to make the first British (and New Zealand) ascent of the Croz Spur on the Grandes Jorasses. Richard climbed the Central Pillar of Frêney with Pete Minks, immediately after cycling to Chamonix from Manchester. Richard didn’t seem to have much trouble with the Frêney route, which at the time was considered the ‘crème de la crème of high altitude rock climbs’ and was the scene of at least two epics—one on an early attempt by Walter Bonatti and the other on the route’s first ascent by Chris Bonington and Don Whillans. The book opens with an account of a session with a medical consultant, where Richard is instructed: ‘No climbing ladders, no driving cars, and definitely no climbing mountains.’ He developed epilepsy at the age of 25 after hitting his head. The book then flashes back to his early

life and the story continues in more or less chronological order and later explains how he came to his condition. Richard does give up climbing for a while, but his condition is so well controlled by medication that he soon gets back into it, and later becomes an alpine guide. Richard goes on to put up some ultra-difficult routes including The Vikings (E3) which was then described as the ‘hardest climb in the Lakes’. Richard also begins to solo many of the harder climbs of that era and there are interesting accounts of routes I found hard enough with a rope and plenty of runners! Echoes of a Dream was nominated for the Boardman-Tasker Prize in 2012. It is self-published by Richard, and is available for £15 from his website: There are a variety of styles employed in the narration—a lot of the descriptions are just as they would be if you overheard Richard telling his mates about a climb and this is a big part of the book’s charm. Other passages show an excellent command of written English. Who is this book written for? It is definitely written by a climber for climbers. It was particularly interesting to me as a British rock climber, who started climbing only a few years after Richard. I got to know Richard quite well, and did many of the same climbs as him. The book deserves to be read by the wider climbing public even if you don’t know the places Richard is writing about. I certainly found it a really good read. Echoes of a Dream—a crag rat’s tale. By Alan Richard McHardy. Self-published, 2011.





A lpine Recreation T R E K





iding Private Gu | s e rs u o C Advanced



A guide to the best crags and boulders By John Palmer, Tom Hoyle and Kester Brown Reviewed by Kristen Foley

Rock deluxe noRth

ROCK DELUXE NORTH is a new select guidebook that covers the main rock climbing areas from Auckland to Wellington. Many readers will be familiar with the Rock Deluxe concept having seen or used the Rock Deluxe guide for the South Island. A major challenge when writing a select guidebook is striking the right balance in the selection of crags, cliffs and routes that are included. The authors have done a remarkable job of achieving a good balance by detailing each area slightly differently. 1. For larger areas the best established climbs have been selected. 2. For areas that are relatively small, a more comprehensive approach has been taken. 3. A few areas have been added as tasters. The authors, John Palmer, Tom Hoyle and Kester Brown, are well-known New Zealand climbers and have been prolific in establishing routes, re-bolting, developing and tidying up crags in the North Island. The book details over 1100 climbs and provides easy to follow, practical information on how to find and enjoy the various climbing areas. As a climber, there is nothing worse than wasting valuable time wandering around at the base of a cliff trying to find a route. The information in Rock Deluxe North is laid out in a logical format and is a real visual treat to read. The topos are extremely easy to follow, with colour-coded links between the descriptions and the photos. The descriptions themselves are rich in the detail you need to climb the route. I like the added touch of the authors’ sense of humor coming through in the writing, this gives the book character. Grading always provides a vigorous discussion point for climbers. No doubt this book has put the cat amongst the pigeons, as some routes have been down-graded, and a few have been upgraded. It seems to me that a consistent approach has been taken and over the fullness of time we will be better off for it. If you want holiday ticks go to Thailand! The book is a refreshing A5 size. There is always a trade-off; too big and it won’t fit in your pack, too small and you are left underwhelmed with a lack of detail. The A5 size is perfect as it gives space to show off the full-colour topos and the best feature of all—the excellent photography. The authors have gone to town and spent three years getting the perfect shots. In fact, the photography is so good this guide can double as a coffee table book. Owning a copy of this book is a great way to impress your flatmates, girlfriend and/or boyfriend and, as I have found, your children. The history section must have been a labour of love to write and John has done an admirable job of cobbling together snippets of information to create a comprehensive history of major North Island developments. I love the sidebar stories, which focus on key climbers of the day. It’s great to see such a rich history documented in such a comprehensive fashion. One of the New Zealand Alpine Club’s aims in publishing Rock Deluxe North is that it will inspire indoor climbers to climb outdoors. I believe this book will achieve this as it showcases the rich and varied rock climbing opportunities available in the North Island. Another very good reason to buy the book is that all the profits will be ring-fenced and used for North Island re-bolting and crag development and access work. Hats off to the authors and NZAC. Rock Deluxe North is the most visually appealing and functional guide I have ever seen. I look forward to the next edition with GPS coordinates’ and mobile apps. But no pressure! a guide to the best crags and boulders

by Tom Hoyle and John Palmer

Photo: Wolfgang Maier

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Rock Deluxe North—a guide to the best crags and boulders. By John Palmer, Tom Hoyle and Kester Brown. New Zealand Alpine Club Publications, 2014.


TRAINING FOR THE NEW ALPINISM A manual for the climber as athlete By Steve House and Scott Johnson Reviewed by Steve Fortune SOMETIMES IT seems like a dirty word, but I ‘train’ for alpinism. I live in a city and I work full-time, so when the stars line up and I have time off, good weather and a partner, I want to be able to grab that short opportunity and do a good route. I need to be fit to do that. However, there is not a lot of good information out there on training for alpinism. There are no coaches you can turn to, no manuals to read. The best advice is just get out there and climb, and maybe go for the odd run. Mark Twight wrote about structured training in his book Extreme Alpinism, which was an entertaining read, but fell short in good specific training advice (Twight even debunked some of his own advice in later essays such as There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, which is included in chapter three of Training for the New Alpinism). I have read some books on training for rock climbing, and some on training for endurance sport, and I’ve tried to apply their principes to how I train for alpinism in my busy lifestyle. 

 I must admit I eagerly awaited this book. A world-class coach (Scott Johnson) coaching a world class alpinist (Steve House) and telling all about the lessons they have learned. This was exactly what I wanted. This book does more than just lay out a training plan for you, it explains the science and exercise physiology behind the training effects. If you skipped high-school biology, you may find the chapter on this hard going. You could skip that chapter and take the authors’ words at face value, but personally I like to know the reasons behind doing things a certain way, so I find this a strength of the book. 

 No two people are going to train the same, or indeed need to, and few are going to have a coach to lay out a plan for them, or monitor and adjust their training. It is important then, to come up with your own plan, and adjust it as necessary. This book is a great tool to be able to do that. Few will follow Steve’s training programme for Nanga Parbat, but it is interesting and useful to be able to see what a world-class alpinist does. You can take his lessons and fit them into your own schedule and your own goals. Training for the New Alpinism does assume that readers, like Steve, are full-time, hugely dedicated athletes. I would prefer to see more on adjusting the schedule for those who work full-time, but I think it is the readers’ job to work out what they can actually manage to do. The book certainly inspires you to do more! Tools to monitor your training to avoid overtraining are discussed. I’ve been sporadically training for quite a few years now, but never with any real plan or structure. You can get a bit stuck in your ways, or do things because they are convenient, not because they are the best options. From reading this book, I’ve realised how I can do better, given my own constraints. I think this book will help most people with some ideas on how to improve what they currently do.

So do you need to be, or aspire to be, an elite climber to find Training for the New Alpinism useful? I don’t think so. Anyone motivated to do some training will benefit from having some extra knowledge to direct that. If you have never done any training you will probably benefit the most. If you see people performing amazing feats of endurance and wonder how on earth they do that and think you never could, this book will show you how. It won’t make the hard work required any easier though. Training for the New Alpinism does contain quite dry exercise physiology information, and example training schedules. But in addition, there are some interesting anecdotes about climbing, training, mistakes made and lessons learned by other well known figures, such as Mark Twight, Ueli Steck, Marco Prezelj, Will Gadd, Kelly Cordes, Vince Anderson, Voytek Kurtyka and Reinhold Messner. These anecdotes give different perspectives and along with some great photographs, are refreshing and keep the readers’ interest up. There are anecdotes from Steve House as well, including about his numerous failed attempts on the awesome south face of Nuptse and the west face of Makalu. Few readers will devote themselves full-time to a training programme with monk-like devotion, as is laid out in the book. Apparently some weirdos have interests in life outside climbing! This book should still help you either apply the time you do want to devote to training more intelligently, or give you faith that what you are doing will pay off in the long-term, and it will give you a better understanding of how to achieve your goals. In addition to training, there is practical information on nutrition, altitude and acclimatisation, as well as the mental aspects of climbing

. The bottom line is: read this book if you are interested in training for alpine climbing. You will not find better information anywhere else. The one thing I feel is missing is a discussion of preparation for the ultra-long days that alpine climbing sometimes entails. For example, Steve House did a 60-hour non-stop push to climb the Slovak-Direct on Denali. There was no mention of specific conditioning for this, or discussion on sleep deprivation which is very important on these long pushes. I’ve put down some of my own thoughts on training for alpine climbing in an article that on the website. It would be good to have an online discussion about it. The article is at: alpineteam. Training for the New Alpinism. By Steve House and Scott Johnson. Patagonia Books, Ventura, USA, 2014.


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Massey University Rec. Centre Massey University, Orchard Road, Palmerston North. Ph (06)350-5080. Hours: M–F 6.30am–10pm, Sat 10am–8pm, Sun 12–8pm; during uni holidays: M–F 6.30am 8pm, Sat 1pm–5pm, Sun 4–8pm. Admission: $3.50 students, $5.50 non-students. Annual membership MUAC members $30, Non members $50. Instruction and gear hire available.

New Plymouth YMCA 83 Liardet Street. Ph (06)758-3666. Hours; Thursday 5.30pm to 8.00pm. Sun 1.00pm to 3.30pm. Admission; $8.00 Adult, $5.00 Student and under 16. Harness hire $2.00 per person. Instruction available, also exclusive group private session available on demand.

Wellington Ferg’s Kayaks* Shed 6, Queen’s Wharf. Ph (04) 499-8898 Hours: Mon–Fri 10 am–10pm. Sat–Sun 9am–10pm. Admission: $15 adult; $10 child. Lunch-time specials; concessions/membership available. Every Monday is NZAC discount night, entry is $10. $12 for members other days.

Hang Dog* 453 Hutt Rd, Lower Hutt. Ph (04)589-9181 Hours: Mon–Tues: 12pm–9pm. Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 10am–9pm. Admission (with harness): Adult $19.50; student $16.50; child $15.50. It is $4 cheaper if you suply own harness. NZAC Member $13 + 20% discount off gear from the shop. Lunch-time specials; concessions available. Gear hire/ instruction available.

Freyberg Wall Outdoor wall at the harbour end of Freyberg Pool in Oriental Bay. Bolted routes, grades 14-24. Free.

Taupo Events Centre and AC Baths complex, Taupo. Ph (07) 376-0350.


Hours vary, holidays open from 10am and from 1pm during term. Late nights Mondays and Thursdayss until 9pm. On site shop stocking climbing equipment. Check for monthly opening hours, events, information and shop details.

Vertical Limits

Admission: $10 adults, $6 children and students with ID. Harness hire $4, shoe hire $4, chalk $3, lead rope $4. Memberships and concession cards available. Instruction from $25.50/hr. Private wall hire $51/hr.

Turangi Vertical Assault 26 Ngawaka Pl,Turangi. Ph (07)386-6558, Fax (07)386 8946. Hours: Mon–Thur 9am to 5pm, Fri–Sat 9am to 8pm, Sun 10am–4pm. Prices range from 5 and Under $7, Child from 6 to 15 years $15 and Adult (16+) is $20.00. If Adult brings own harness $15.00, child with own harness $12.00. Internet Cafe open 10–6pm Tue till Sun.

National Park National Park Backpackers Finlay St, National Park Village, PO Box 89. Ph (07)8922870, Hours: 9am–8pm, seven days a week. Admission: $10 adult, $8 under 14. Group discounts. Instruction and gear hire available.


34 Vanguard St, Ph 0508 VERTICAL. Hours: Mon–Fri 10am–9pm Sat–Sun 10am–6pm. Admission: $10, + gear $15; Student $8/$13, Under 16 $6/$10. Memberships and concession cards are also available.

Christchurch YMCA City Stadium* 12 Hereford St. Ph (03) 3660689 Hours: Bouldering Room - Everyday 9am–9.30pm. Main Wall - Top Rope and Lead Climb times: Mon–Fri 5pm–9pm. Sat & Sun 11am–3pm. Admission: Adult $12 (NZAC Members $10 with membership card), Student $10, Child (13yrs & under) $8. Concessions: 10 visit & 3 month available. Gear Hire: Harness - $3 Shoes - $3 ($5 for both) Chalk Bag $2. Specials: Monday - Cheap bouldering adults $6, students $5, child $4. Wednesday - Entry to wall is $8 for everyone. Thursday - Students are discounted to $7 (must have I.D.). Saturday and Sunday - $6 Child (includes gear) $10 Adults (includes gear).

Canterbury University Ilam Rd. Ph (03)364-2433. Hours: Mon–Fri 7am–10.30pm, Sat 9.30am–6pm, Sun 10am–10pm. Admission: $5 public, $2.50 student. Gear hire: $5 for two.

The Roxx*

Kiwi Adventure Co.*

Corner Waltham Rd and Byron St. Ph (03)377-3000

58 West Quay, Ahuriri. Ph (06)834-3500. Hours: Tues–Fri 3pm–9pm. Sat & Sun 10am–6pm, School and public hol. 10am–6pm. Group bookings available. Admission: Under 6 $6, under 12 $12, Adults $15, all prices include harness hire and intro. Climbing combos, concessions and memberships available. 10% disc. for NZAC Members on entry.

Hours: 4pm–10pm Mon, Weds, Fri. 12 noon–10pm Tues,, Thurs. 10am–10pm Sat, Sun. Other times by arrangment. Admission: $12 adult, $10 student, $8 youth (6–12), (plus $3 one-off registration fee). NZAC discount.

Twizel Twizel Events Centre*

Ph: 03 4353124, email: Top Rope and Lead Climbing Walls Hours: Thursdays 7-9 pm, school and group bookings welcome at other times. Adults $10, Tertiary and NZAC $8 (with I.D), School Children $6.

The Civic Centre, Puketahi St, Greymouth. Open to members of the West Coast Alpine Club. Annual membership fees $30 single, $35 family, plus a per session fee. Usually open Tues and Thur nights - contact Ph 03 769 9607 or email for further information.

Franz Josef Franz Josef Community Centre The Guiding Company. Ph (03)752-0047 or 0800 800102. Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8.30pm onwards. There is a joining fee of $30 and it costs $5 per session after that. Half day courses and gear hire available.

Wanaka* Basecamp Wanaka Climbing Centre 50 Cardrona Valley Rd, Wanaka. Tel: (03) 443 1110 E-mail:, Website: Hours: Vary on season. During summer: 12pm-9pm weekdays and 10am-6pm weekends. Admission: Main Wall: $15/adult, $12/youth (7-17yrs), $5 6 yrs and under. Gear Hire: $5/harness, $5/shoes. Clip ‘N Climb: Harness included. $18/adult, $12/youth, $5 6yrs and under. 10 visit pass and group rates avail able. Indoor & Outdoor Climbing Walls. Alpinista Cafe & Bar attached for all your food & beverage needs. Memberships, Instruction Courses, Party Bookings and Function Rooms available. NZAC Members Discount for Entry.  

Queenstown Queenstown Event Centre Joe O’Connell Drive, Frankton. Ph (03)442-3664. Hours: Mon–Thurs 9am–9pm, Fri–Sat 9am–5pm, Sunday (winter only) 11am –7pm. Admission: Adult $10, U16 $4. Gear Hire: Boots $5, Harness $5 - Both for $7. Unlimited climbing options also available. Open Nights for adults Tuesday and Thursday 7-9pm NB: Always call before coming out as special events sometimes disrupt climbing availability.

Element Remarkables Park, Frankton. The wall is free of charge to climbers with their own equipment upon completion of a belay license. Without their own gear we charge $10.00 for hire of shoes and harness. Our hours are Monday–Thursday 9:00am–6:00pm. Friday 9:00am–7:00pm. Saturday/Sunday 10:00am–6:00pm.

Oamaru Waitaki Recreation Centre* Orwell St. Ph (03)434-6932. Hours: Tues 8.00pm–10pm, Thurs 5.00pm–6.30pm. Other times by arrangement for experienced climbers (check with Recreation Staff) Annual Pass: Senior $88 (NZAC $66). Junior $60 (NZAC $45). Family $120 (NZAC $90). Casual per day: Senior $8 (NZAC $6). Junior $5 (NZAC $4). NZAC members must show membership cards. 10% discount to school kids as a group if paid in full Other groups – to pay gym hire + instructor + gear @$30 per group

Dunedin Room 14 Bouldering Ground Floor, King Edward Building, Upper Stuart Street. Offers a range of membership or casual night options. For more information check out the website

Invercargill YMCA* 77 Tay St, Invercargill. Ph (03)218- 2989. Hours: Mon–Thurs 6am–9pm, Fri 6am-8pm, Sat 8am–12pm. Admission: $4; NZAC members discount; Students $3.50 YMCA rockclimbing instructors available to take groups. Gear available for hire to groups with instructor.

THE LAST PITCH The Last Pitch: continued from page 56

quartz dikes frozen in geologic time-lapse. We could take in vistas hidden from view until we surmounted that crest over there or got up this tangled mess in front of us. Finally we arrived at the highest point around. Our eyes feasted on the landscape. SUMMERTIME SHOULD CONTAIN NO SHADOWS, Ah! This was it—the real thing. Sky and sun; friends on the rock. It was like sex before chilI THOUGHT. TRANSPARENT, AND OH SO REAL. AS dren: all fun, with no responsibilities. ‘Too good to be true!’ shouted Will. I defiREAL AS THE ABILITY OF UNPOLISHED GRANITE nitely concurred. It must have been getting along towards TO SHRED YOUR BUMBLING FINGERTIPS. SHARPfour o’clock. We couldn’t tell, we didn’t care. Summertime should contain no shadows, I EDGED WHERE THERE WAS LACK OF RESPECT. A thought. Transparent, and oh so real. As real as the ability of unpolished granite to shred LACERATING REALITY ALL CLIMBERS FACED. your bumbling fingertips. Sharp-edged where there was lack of respect. A lacerating reality all climbers faced. ‘See that dome down there?’ Will ran his fingers over the imagined contours of a massive, single piece of creamy granite. ‘Let’s get onto it and see where it goes.’ He was referring to the eastern slope of the thing, which appeared to ‘F***! I can’t move!’ he bellowed. drop off into an enormous nothingness. For all we could tell, the masBelow: the sickening, steepening abyss. I too was compromised. I sif could have swallowed several hundred metres of vertigo-inducing had followed Will out to no-man’s land. What could I do? My own grip vertical. Since it was the biggest feature around—and nobody knew its on reality was every bit as precarious as his. If friction was my friend I name—we had no choice but to investigate. felt a betrayal coming on if I moved. With our spirits high, under a seemingly unlimited sky, we worked Suddenly life was no longer transparent. This was more real than our way across dry, beetle-sized granite gravels—rock decomposed real. Evening was coming on, shadows began to creep across the terby wind, rain, snow and ice. Will reached down and held aside some rain. The rock took on a dark and menacing hue. There was not a soul thorny underbrush for me to pass without scraping or puncturing the to help us, no one to call out to. We were stuck, Will and I, with each bare skin of my legs. It was touching how Will assumed ownership of other and with gravity, way out on a limb. our outing, gentleman to the core on his home territory. By now Will was sobbing quietly. I inched as close to him as I posI thought of the Last Resort hundreds of metres down below now, sibly could. nestled beneath towering tops of aromatic trees. I thought about Will’s ‘Look, Will,’ I said as calmly as I could. ‘I think I can reach out to you wife and her singular pursuit to clean up Will’s nasty habit and to make so you can hold on and get yourself back to this little ledge I am on.’ a living for both of them. As proprietors of the Last Resort they had True, I was holding on at that moment no longer by fleshy fingertip but their hands full awaiting the avalanche of tourists certain to hit them. by fingernail crushed onto large crystals at right angles. I was scared ‘Will,’ I said, ‘we’re onto it!’ shitless but couldn’t afford to get rattled by Will’s dire state. He contin‘You mean ‘life’ or the rock?’ ued to weep, a grown man—a mountaineer—at his rope’s end. ‘Take your pick,’ I said as he began to smear the soles of his Adidas Carefully and ever so slowly I turned my belly to the rock of the shoes onto the rock to keep a grip on the declining surface beneath us. dome, two feet (two big toes, actually) and one hand formed a human Before we knew it we were tracing mineral trajectories and balanctripod of contact. Like a sea slug my free hand crept out to Will. ‘Take ing on seams of darker rock stretched across lighter rock. Exposure it!’ I told him. grew, at first with no hint of compromise on our part. We were *** confident on the stone, our propioceptive feet had been tutored over In the warm embrace of a dying summer’s night we raised our beers to many seasons of climbing. We followed one seam around a corner, the sky. We clanked bottles in a fraternal nod to continuing existence. if a smooth and curved profile can be said to have a corner. But we How had we escaped with our lives? No sooner did we swig the first could not see where we were going until we got there. Once you tsunami of cooling beverage than Will’s wife swung around the stone turn a corner like that you feel you are utterly alone. You have left corner of the master cottage. Will’s face went blank. the world behind. Anything can happen. You are out in the cosmos. ‘Hi lovey dove. You wouldn’t believe what we went through today … ’ There is nothing to see behind, only intrigue ahead. Easy solution or ‘Don’t you ‘lovey dove’ me. You’re done. We’re done! I’m worse: danger. outta here.’ Once in the danger zone you consider reversing; you also consider ‘But hon. Don’t you wanna hear the story? We nearly died up on the edging ahead, cautiously to be sure. Everything has to be put into slow rock today.’ motion. No time for fast forwards here. Like down-climbing a vertical ‘Take down the sign. Board up the windows. You’ll hear from my face, reversing is often more nerve-wracking, more tortuous than conlawyer how we’re gonna settle this marriage and this property. I’m tinuing upward, no matter how unconvinced you are that you can do it. outta here, William. You can drink yourself into oblivion.’ Sometimes sewing-machine leg takes over when this happens. Your body abruptly goes out of control, muscles spasming and freaking out until you bring in mind control and calm yourself down. Sometimes you need a rope, to feel its fuzzy abrasion taut against your flesh as you yell out to your partner, ‘Tension! Gimme tension!’ Neither Will nor I had the luxury of Mammut kernmantle at that moment. We were well and truly out there. Exposed like the dumb clucks we did not think we were. Will was splayed out like a turtle on his back, on his blue-jeaned ass, his heels pressed as hard as he could onto the slippery rock to hang on. ‘I can’t move,’ he mumbled in a tone of disbelief. His hands hovered above his head, backwards, hanging on by index fingers.






t really was the last resort. It would have to save their marriage or it would be all she wrote. A train ran right through it. I mean, the ground shook big time every afternoon when the Southern Pacific trundled its freight north or south. The rock cabins sat on both sides of the track, perched like kittens, awaiting another saucer of raucous locomotive milk. They named it the Last Resort as a kind of in-joke. There wasn’t much you could call civilization for a hundred miles in any direction. The hand-built cabins of smooth river stone were as cute as you could get for under $50 a night. The master cabin actually had a separate bedroom, and in the dusky back of the shack rose a temple of emptied beer bottles, the closest thing to visual creosote you could manage, it was over six feet tall. There was art in its construction, a symmetry in the stack of glass that made you stand back and say whoa. My friend and his wife loved the mountains. In fact, she was once a ranger in a national park. Her generous smile would disarm the most hardened city cynic as she waxed on about the beauties of nature. My friend not only adored mounBY DALE tains, he was fascinated by trains too. In the winter he skied and in the summer he climbed. To make it all go down better he also celebrated with a bottle. ‘You touch another one of those,’ his wife said when I arrived, hooking her thumb towards the glass temple, ‘and I’ll tear you a new one,’ she vowed. My friend just grinned and tried to look contrite. He loved his wife and she knew it. ‘Honey bunch, you talk so much nonsense,’ he told her. The trains had a strange calming effect on my friend. They were like punctuation in a novel-in-the-making. Exclamation or full stop, it didn’t matter. Not only did the local soils get a daily and nightly rev-up from tons of hurtling steel and wood, but the grounds got overrun with wild blackberry vines. Inserted between those voluptuous globes of vermillion juice, however, cringed placid leaves of stinging nettle. If you went out with a mind half asleep to pick a few berries for breakfast you were 56


likely to be scratching your forearms and elbows uncontrollably for days. And you would get vanilla scars running up and down your arms to remind you how silly you had been. I showed up with a bit of climbing in mind as well as some social reconnaissance on the marriage thing. My friend was always in need of a good mate upon whom he could pour his garrulous self, and of course his wife specialised in wicked commentary cut with hyperbolic praise for those things in life she adored. They were a treat to be around even if the clouds gathered and storms thundered and lightning slashed. You were as likely to laugh with your belly as to take offense at the diatribes that would pass between them. It was a lethargic summer’s day when I showed. My friend, who we will call Will, offered me a warm can of beer. ‘Thanks but no thanks,’ I said, slapping his shoulder. Good God, the muscle in there, I thought. He’s strong as an ox. I thought about oxen because I had just come back from China. I carried images of water buffalo and all those crazy fuchsia peasant work shirts in the fields irrigated with liquid human shit in my mind. It was one JOHNSON hard life for those peasants and their oxen. I mean water buffalo. Maybe I had yaks and the Himalaya on my mind. Oxen at any rate. Will and I decided we’d give some local granite a go. There were some places he’d never been and he’d been fancying a particular area for quite some time since moving to the Last Resort. His wife was not in shape for rambling and scrambling, not to mention that she didn’t do technical stuff anyhow. So Will and I set out one afternoon for a look-see. We did not bring a rack of any sort, not even a back-up rope just in case. This would be a charting of future climbs, a mental mapping of possibilities and intrigues. The sun shone hotly on our bared backs. The legs felt strong, the blood full bodied. Sunglasses kept the fire of summer at bay. We were almost giddy with the chance to be together doing what we both loved—to tramp in the mountains in the height of summer unencumbered. We could marvel at blood-red wildflowers, gasp at geometry of Please turn to page 55

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Profile for NZAC

The Climber issue 89  

Spring 2014

The Climber issue 89  

Spring 2014