07 May 2012

Early Climbing Days - Seven

Tasman - our first major 10, 000 footer - or 3000m peak

In my earlier post "Early Climbing Days - Five" I said I'd elaborate on one or two of our climbs from that 1956/7 season.

After establishing ourselves in a snow cave on the upper La Perouse Glacier after several days of struggling up the Cook River, and exploring the lower valley, we decided to attempt our first 10 000ft peak.  We were camped at about 9 000ft so one afternoon we climbed up onto Clarke Saddle and from here we enjoyed our first summit in the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, Mt Teichelmann.  We actually safely enjoyed a glorious sunset from the top and were back in our snow cave before night descended.

A few days later we decided to attempt Tasman which lay further north of Teichelmann.  We left early and soon were romping along the ridge beyond Teichelmann.  Soon we were over Graham and onto Silberhorn, an off-lier of Tasman.  Ahead lay, to us, the formidable ice arete of Tasman.  Jim and I chose to ascend the arete direct and after a couple of hours of step cutting and belaying, found ourselves on top. Dave Elphick and Mike White chose to traverse out onto the east face of Tasman and found the going tough in sun softened snow.  Our arete route had been hard and icy.  After an hour or more on top we descended the arete route together.  On the way down the steepest part of the arete Jim lost the ferule of his ice axe, luckily noticing it before he attempted the next shaft belay. We  eventually found ourselves on top of Teichelmann in the setting sun (once again) before descending to our snow cave below.  It had been a big day out.

Tasman from Silberhorn 1957