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Australasia, New Zealand, Autumn 2005-Autumn 2006, Barron Saddle-Mt. Brewster Region, Summary

Barron Saddle-Mt. Brewster Region, summary. It’s tempting to call the North Buttress of Mt. Hopkins (2,678m) a “last great problem” of the Barron Saddle-Mt. Brewster Region. However, that would be misleading, as it’s more the buttress being isolated and long, rather than technically hard, that has kept climbers off its heights for so long. However you look at it, the buttress is an obvious and compelling rock ridge, and it was great to see it finally climbed, in January. Kynan Bazley and Paul Hersey took the honors. They helicoptered to the base of Watkins, took 10 hours to reach the summit from the valley floor and then spent another two days to walk all the way out. Due to the remote and rugged terrain, they commented that in many ways the walk-out was as challenging as the climb. They graded the route 5+, with a rock crux of 17.

The twist to this story is that a month later Steven Fortune and Guy McKinnon also climbed the route and returned to Christchurch believing they had made the first ascent. Disappointment came when McKinnon opened the latest issue of The Climber a week after their return.

Winter saw a couple of prominent new lines established. On Mt. Huxley (2,505m) Sam Barron and James Edwards climbed an 800m route on the west face, spending the night in a hole near the summit. Edwards also teamed up with Steven Fortune and Paul Warnock for an 1,100m route on the southeast face of Mt. McKerrow (2,650m): Fortune Favours the Bold. In July Paul Hersey and Mat Woods climbed a grade 3 gully on the south face of Peak 2,200m.

Mark Watson, New Zealand Alpine Club