12th December 2012

3701m – Summit Ice Cap of Aoraki Mt Cook

 

 

 

3….                  2….                 1…..
See ya !!!!

 

 

Well after 4 years of wanting to do it I finally manged to get a none work period to coincide with a good weather window and a chance at making a speedriding descent off the top of Mt Cook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the end it turned into a 36 hour round trip from Wanaka.  I flew in with a heli load of people to Plateau hut – uncertain if I had a rope party to wander up the Linda glacier with.  As it turned out I teamed up with Bram Whillock, a ske mountaineering type who wanted to make a ski descent of Mt Cook.

 

Bram has been going around doing all kinds of interesting things – check out his site : www.bramski.org

 

Anyway – I had planned on having a night in Plateau hut to acclimatise but as things go we ended up making the most of the good weather and afer flying in  at 3:30 we were awake at 12:00 midnight, getting our gear on and starting to skin / ski over towards the mouth of the Linda glacier.  Bram and I had agreed to only us the rope if we really needed to on the glacier – we had a great freeze and were were also using ski's – damn hard work on the frozen snow really.  The crevasses were reasonable well bridged and with a great freeze it was pretty safe – safer then being roped up and on ski's at any rate.  Bram did mention, after he had returned to the hut, that he was sure the crevasses had opened up during the night ….  I told him that just hadn't been able to see how big they were!

 

Overall this wee mission would have to have been, what felt like my worst ever climb of Aoraki via the Linda glacer – I was feeling a bit ill (prob mild AMS) had quite a lot of nervous energy (ie scared) and really didn't want to have to make a repeat attempt the next night!  The summit rocks were fairly boney and free of snow / ice which actually makes them easier to climb.  As we topped out on the the summit ridge a fair amount of cloud started to rise out the Tasman Valley and onto the Grand Plateau – not ideal for a landing.  Conditions on the summit were also a little bit firm with no really "safe" place to make a good launch and with a SW tail wind I felt it better to fly from just below the summit – at the summit ice cap shrund.

 

By the time I'd gotten all ready to go and sorted out wing, skis and camera's the cloud had broken and I had a great line down to the mouth of the Linda Glacier …

 

Big thanks to Bram Whillock and Paul Rogers for additional outside footage.

It never rains but it pours.

The monsoon is still making it’s presence felt. Since we arrived at Samagoan the heavens have been open and the pani (water) has been falling. In the last 2 1/2 days there has been over 200mm of rain. There has been a steady stream of Sherpa’s coming down from basecamp to visit friends and family or to just simply hang out. From what we have been able d to find out it seems that all the other expeditions are still in basecamp and there has been about 1m new snow.

Weather 25th September
weather on 25th

Camp 1 is most likely a tad buried …. All last night it was simply belting down and the dawn was grey, murky and rainy. After a chat about the porters we felt it better to wait one more day here for the better weather that is forecast for tomorrow. It wouldn’t be good to have one of them slip and injure themselves OR to drop any of our gear + the deep snow into basecamp would also prove to be a problem for them wearing only lite shoes and or walking boots.

A small overhang to shelter from the rain
hanging out in cave-sml

Yesterday however we did get out on an acclimatization walk in the afternoon when the rain had eased. We climbed up the basecamp track to about 4150m and sat in wee cave to watch the clouds come and go – giving us some glimpses of the glacier across from us and the lake far below.

Just this morning we arranged to have a Puja (blessings from the Lama) here in Samagoan as the local Lama was heading down to a lower village for a few days and would not be able to come up to basecamp. We had our boots, axes and my canopy blessed – all done under cover out of the rain in a local prayer room.

Puja in Samagoan
puja-sml

So now we are simply waiting for the promised good weather to come again.

The weather and time off work is aligning itself so that Dugald and I can get into the west coast neve's this weekend for some alpine training / ski touring and speedflying!

The Recent weather has potentially put down over a meter of new snow and conditions up high will be nice for a few days.  Feels great to finally have a mission that will work with the weather and have time available to make use of it!

Some NW or SW winds will also be fine as we can use our wings like kites to drag ourselves around on the glacier.

 

 

 

We'll be based at either Pioneer hut or Centenial Hut and make use of the surrounding peaks for some flight attempts. These include ;

  • Triad
  • Aurora
  • Minarets
  • Glacier Peak
  • Grey Peak
  • Mt Drummond

Out of all these the pick for me would be to getup the west Face of the Minarets and fly off!  Check back soon for more updates