Mt Aspiring

After arriving in Christchurch and food-shopping, we caught a bus to Wanaka, and then a minibus out to Raspberry Flat. From there it's a two hour walk to Aspiring hut, then two more hours up the valley, followed by a very steep four hour scramble up French Ridge to the new, and very spiffy, French Ridge hut. From there we headed up the Quarterdeck to Mt. French.

Of course all that took a few days and we had a rest-day in FR hut 'cos it was raining and we (I!) were stuffed from carrying 30+kg packs. In fact on the way up I was so buggered I lay down and almost fell asleep in the drizzle! Dave rescued me.

Dave had made a flag displaying the University of Sydney Sports Union and our Club logos. The idea being: we carry flag to various high places, present photos to Sports Union who are very impressed, use photos for promos and give Club more money... but then I was never much of a theoretician! Dave flew the flag on Quarterdeck pass from where we had a good view of Mt. Aspiring. A short walk from the pass is Mt French, so we bagged it while we could...

...And carried on to the equally new and spiffy Colin Todd hut. There we waited out another day of rain and snow and recovered from our eight hour slog thru the soft surface of the Bonar glacier.

Early the next day, before dawn, we set off to climb the classic South-West Ridge. But I felt like crap just before the steep bit, so we went back to the hut where I soon felt better, where we watched a beautiful day go by and from where we watched in comfort as six people summitted!

Again, the next morning Dave and I geared up. And this time we climbed the ridge. Except I'm afraid I have no photos because I was concentrating on not falling off!

We walked up most of the ridge before Dave pitched up the short crux and belayed me up. The Sun was by now over the ridge and it was having an apalling effect on the slope. The heat was eating into the ice and making it increasingly rotten. Yuk! We swapped leads as rapidly as we felt was safe and it was with relief that we stepped onto the summit slopes and made the final short walk to the summit. It was 14:15.

We could look along the Coxcombe ridge and had a nice view south-eastish from the summit.

Cloud was blowing in from the west coast so our view rapidly disappeared and we headed down the north-west ridge, an easy walk. In fact I've heard it can be climbed in runners in late summer! It was quite warm by now and the bottom of the ramp was in its usual trecherous condition: deep, virtually unprotectable sugary snow, and us getting tired! After I took a short slide and Dave dropped his glove down a crevasse (retrieved succesfully) we finally made it back to the hut by 20:00. Sixteen hours on the go - a long round trip for this route:/ Bryan Moore fed us his excess dinner (Thanks!), then we cooked our own, ate it and still felt hungry!

The following day we rested. The one after we walked out to Aspiring hut, a lot fitter and pretty pleased with our first succesful climb for the trip. We were now ready for the Grand Plateau.

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