01 September 2011

Early Climbing Days - Three

My first transalpine trip south of Arthur's Pass was in 1955 when Mike Kirby, Len Lucas, Graham Brown and I went up the Clyde branch of the Rangitata, crossed over into the Rakaia and came out via Cave Camp below Whitcombe Pass and down the Whitcombe River.  Along the way we climbed Newton and Tyndall, Lauper, Whitcombe, Ramsey and Kinkel.  This was my first longish transalpine climbing trip and it taught me a lot about camping at altitude, long hot days on snowfields, negotiating icefalls, dealing with stormy weather and living with others.  At one stage on Erewhon Col in tents during a violent storm Mike Kirby and I heard a humming sound amid the lightning.  Thinking it was the hum that accompanies static electricity we started throwing all the metal objects we could find out into the storm - only to realise (embarrassingly) that the sound was just our mates in the tent nearby starting up their primus for a brew. The weather was generally good and the trip whetted my appetite for the several unclimbed routes we  saw along the way. Yes, next summer!


Len Lucas in Colin Campbell Icefall

Lyell Hut and Mt Whitcombe

Returning to Camp on Erewhon Col

Lauper Peak from Erewhon Col