22 August 2011

Early Climbing Days - One

I started my climbing in the early 1950s. In those days boots, iceaxes, crampons, packs, sleeping bags, parkas and other gear were begged or borrowed.  I remember getting my aluminium cutlery from the contents of a rotting pack I found under a windblown tree in the Kaituna Valley on Banks Peninsula - I remember looking about for a decaying skeleton in the bush - no kidding. Stan Conway, a climbing mate of John Pascoe, gave me my first pack. My father and some of his mates from work and WW2 took me on a few day trips on Banks Peninsula and the foothills of the Southern Alps.

I was fourteen when I attended my first Easter climbing course with the Canterbury Mountaineering Club (I was quite young and wouldn't take no for an answer when it was suggested that I wait a few years) and fifteen when they agreed to have me in the club - they thought it would be better to look after me than have me go off and kill myself alone!!

Out of my membership of the CMC (and later the NZ Alpine Club) I made some great friends and had some great trips.  The pattern of these adventures was from northern towards southern  Canterbury alps and  even further south - a gradual approach in both ambition, skill and experience. In retrospect a good survival approach. Over the next few posts I'll highlight a few of these climbing days - probably ad nauseam!

BLS happy in the mountains (Photo - Mike Kirby)