Mt Aspiring Climb, New Zealand

22 February - 1 March 2007

 

All content copyright © Ashley Burke 2007. Not to be copied, duplicated or used for any purpose without permission.

Day 6 - SUMMIT DAY!

27 Feb 2007

Today was the big day. We rose at 3am and saw a sky sprayed with stars, and although a cold south westerly was blowing, all the signs were that today would be a fine day. So at 3:50am after some tea and breakfast, we set off.

It was a very challenging day of climbing for us, particularly on the lower section of the North West ridge of Aspiring, which was an exposed rocky ridge. We had to find our way along some of this section in the dark. When it became light, the extreme vertical exposure became apparent, with precipitous drops into glaciated valleys on either side.

Higher up the mountain was easier though, and we reached the summit at 1:15pm. The weather remained perfect all day, and the south westerly wind eased, but it was still 9pm by the time we were safely back at Colin Todd Hut. It had been a 17 hour effort, but well worthwhile, and we all made it to the top and back safely.

When dawn broke, it revealed a stunning mountain view.

     
The morning views, although magnificent, reveled how slow our progress had been. We were still struggling along the lower section of the North West Ridge, most of the mountain was still ahead of us.
     
And the morning views revealed the huge vertical exposure of the ridge. Should the weather turn bad, things would get serious. However, as far as the eye could see the weather was perfect and the wind was from the south west, so we were confident that it would hold and that it was safe to go on.
     

Here is one of the obstacles on the North West ridge. We had to climb this very steep slab to the base of the rock outcrop at the top-left. We then had to sidle to the left of this outcrop, and doing so forced us to make one or two perilously exposed manoevres. Directly below us was the Therma Glacier, some 400m below.

     

Once past the obstacles of the lower section of the ridge, we had to sidle along a series of steep and loose ledges. Finally, after some more steep climbing, we regained the crest of the ridge, which became easier, and these views to the north were offered.

Mt Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, can be seen on the far distant horizon.

     
The Therma Glacier sucked down by gravity into the valley, that is still covered by mist.
     
Once we regained the main ridge, the going was easier and as we climbed, we begin to rise above all the surrounding peaks.
     
Rugged peaks, all below us now, and the Tasman Sea beyond.
     
Looking down into the valley to the north, the mist is starting to break up now.
     
Finally, all that is left between us and the summit is this ridge of snow. We roped up and climbed this ridge in a series of picthes until we reached the summit at 1:15pm.
     
Greg Salway is now only a few paces from the summit of Mt Aspiring.
     
Greg Salway pauses before taking the last few steps to the summit.
     
Greg Salway on his final pitch, only 2 or 3 paces from the summit of Mt Aspiring.
     
Chris Berwick is close behind, and pauses for the camera before taking the final steps to the summit.
     
Chris takes the final steps to the summit.
     
Chris takes the final steps to the summit.
     
Chris Berwick reaches the summit of Mt Aspiring.
     

We enjoy panoramic views from the summit.

From left to right: Greg Salway, Ashley Burke, Rob Hynes.

Photo: Chris Berwick.

     
From the summit, everything is below us. It is like being up in an aeroplane ... except that we are outside. The sense of height is strong, as Mt Aspiring towers above all the nearby peaks.
     
By the time we are off the Nort West Ridge it is getting late, and we descend the easy snow slope that links the north west ridge with Shipowner ridge.
     

And finally, as we approach the hut, the moon rises, and the last light of the day catches the evening peaks.

A fitting end to an incredible day out.

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All content copyright © Ashley Burke 2007. Not to be copied, duplicated or used for any purpose without permission.