Asia, New Zealand, Autumn 2006-Autumn 2007, Aoraki Mt. Cook and Westland, Summary

Publication Year: 2007.

Aoraki Mt. Cook and Westland, summary. The Aoraki Mt. Cook region has been particularly quiet in terms of new route activity or ascents of harder routes, suggesting that there are less people heading into the mountains for hard climbing, or that they are directing their focus elsewhere. Perhaps it’s to the Westland névés, as this region is seeing increased activity and busier huts. The pop ularity is probably due in part to the relative ease of access to routes once climbers are based at a hut, and the scope for technical and mixed climbs.

Winter at Aoraki Mt. Cook saw an ascent of the east face of Mt. Sefton (3,151m) via the Direct Route by Jon Loeffer, Andrew Rennie, and Graham Zimmermann. During August a new mixed route was climbed on the southwest face of Conway Peak (2,899m): Life in the Fridge was completed by Johnny Davison and Allan Uren, and was graded 4.

Also on Conway peak but later in the season, Uren completed his project, The Vision, at a grade of 6+ A1 mixed. The route had thwarted previous attempts due to marginal climbing and a scarcity of protection. Uren finally succumbed and placed two bolts on lead at the crux. In the process he may have pointed the way for future ascents in the region with bolt protection.

In contrast to this style Uren then climbed a long and sinuous mixed route named The Mutant (6+) on the west face of Mt. Lendenfeld (3,194m). The ascent took place in December with Tim Robinson and Julian White. Uren said, “the lower five pitches contain some of the most sustained and difficult climbing I’ve done up there, and some of the most aesthetic.”

Canterbury climber Guy McKinnon has once again been showing his drive for daring solo ascents. In September he made the first ascent of the 1,400m north face of Hochstetter Dome (2,827m). This was one of New Zealand’s largest remaining unclimbed faces. In January 2007 he completed an oft-looked-at line, an 800m buttress on Mt. Whataroa (1,988m), which is visible from the West Coast Highway. It’s great to see the adventurous spirit of first ascents in New Zealand’s mountains being retained with stylish ascents like McKinnon’s.

Back over the Divide, Steven Barratt and Daniel Joll climbed a new route on Nun’s Veil in the Liebig Range (east Tasman Valley): Curb Your Enthusiasm (4+) takes a line up the southeast buttress.

Mark Watson, New Zealand Alpine Club