Asia, Himalayas, 1953 Expeditions

Publication Year: 1953.

Aspiring, by W. Scott Gilkison. 80 pages of text, including sketch maps and numerous illustrations. Christchurch, N. Z.: Whitcomb and Tombs, Ltd.

Well written and attractively illustrated, this short book is about one of New Zealand’s finest mountains. Mt. Aspiring (9,957 ft.) is the highest peak on the South Island, south of Mt. Cook and Mt. Sefton. It rises from low, deep valleys and is outstanding in appearance from all sides. We learn that it was first climbed in 1910 by Captain Bernard Head and the two famous guides, Alex Graham and Jack Clarke, and next by Samuel Turner and companions in 1913. Our member, Miss Kate Gardiner, made the thirteenth ascent in 1936, with the guides William and Alack. The author observes, “The ascent from the West Coast has not yet been made.” There are reasons why it has not. Most ascents have been made by the northwest ridge. Other and more difficult routes are gradually being worked out. Weather is the constant enemy.

Like Pascoe’s book, this little volume of Gilkison’s gives one the “feel” of the country, both through the excellent illustrations as well as the text. Aspiring has been called the “Matterhorn of New Zealand” because of its shape, though the climbs on it are largely snow and ice. Crampons are essential. Routes into and up the mountain are described. At the end is a list of all ascents. Through 1950 it had been climbed 23 times. In the 1950-51 season there were eleven successful parties. As it becomes more accessible, Aspiring is at last coming into its well deserved own as one of the most popular climbs. The hardy New Zealanders now often dispense with tents and rely on snow caves for shelter near and on Mt. Aspiring. There is also a good hut, put up by the New Zealand Alpine Club, of which Mr. Gilkison is an officer.

From reading this book it is easy to understand why New Zealand climbers are being chosen for expeditions to Everest and elsewhere in the Himalaya.

Henry S. Hall, Jr.

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