18 October 2011

Early Climbing Days - Five

The year after our long climbing trip into the Arrowsmith Range and upper Rakaia the four of us decided to tackle some of the unclimbed areas to the west of Mt Cook.  Early in 1957 Dave Elphick, Mike White, Jim Wilson and I set off up the Cook River towards the La Perouse Glacier with heavy packs. We'd hardly gone an hour when disaster struck - a cage I was in while crossing the Cook River collapsed and I plummeted into the river.  Luckily it was in the shallows and after a 30ft fall all I suffered was a flattened pack frame and a very sore back for a few days.

We continued up the river and after a few days established ourselves in a snowcave not far below Clarke Saddle on the main divide.  From here we made some good climbs, some of them first and second ascents. These included Tasman, Silberhorn, Teichelmann (five ascents! and saw the sun set from its summit a couple of times), Magellan (third ascent), Drake (second ascent and new route) and Mt Hicks (first ascent of the north face).

Returning from Magellan
One of the highlights was the day on Tasman.  It was a long day with an exciting climb up the arete from Silberhorn.  The first ascent of Magellan had been first done two years earlier by Harry Ayres, Ed Hillary and two others so we had the feeling of walking on hallowed ground!

The highlight for me on this trip was the first ascent of the west face of Mt Hicks with Dave Elphick.
We had to spend a night on top and were very lucky to get safely down the face in a sudden storm.  We finally climbed over Clarke Saddle and walked out to the Hermitage in a long 21h day.

Dave E and Mike W on Tasman Arete
Returning From Tasman over Teichelmann

More about a couple of these topics in the next post.

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