She stood there in the sun light dazzling, glistening and inviting me in. Her face was wet with the melt of the snow, as if mascara were running down her perfectly colored face. Her features formed a perfect natural masterpiece, as if carved by De Vinvi himself. They call her Mt Aspiring, and this year she lured me in for the NW ridge climb.
“As soon as I saw her, I fell in love” – Jacinda Boully
Kyle Marr, a relatively new mountaineer had a mission to climb Mt Aspiring within 3 days.. walking in from the Rasberry Creek carpark through Bevan Col. Day 1 – ingress, Day 2 – Summit, Day 3 – Egress. A lot say that this is a rater ambitious goal.. but everyone knows that I like a good challenge. So on the 15th of March, I agreed to join in on the adventure and began the long journey from Wanaka township.
Both Kyle and myself didn’t have a car so we began by hitchhiking from Wanaka. We were given a ride by a couple who were climbing Mt Roy, A family that was paragliding at Trebel Cone Ski area, and a Dutch guy who was travelling NZ alone and seemed to be having the time of his life! By time we rolled into the carpark, the day was already getting on (say about 12:30pm) and I already started to revise the plan in my head. We walked past Mt aspiring hut, French ridge and Liverpool hut and into the Upper Matukituki valley. When we reached the upper section of the Matukituki River it was approximatly 7:00pm, and I knew the hardest was yet to come. So we decided to try and find Scotts Biv Rock which was marked on the NZ topo map.. we searched everywhere and finally decided that a somewhat spiky and uncomfortable looking rock must be it..
The next day when we went back to the track, we found scotts Biv, a alarmingly obvious location with a very comfortable flat ground inside.. I swear they changed the track from what was on the topo map…
Given we were a day behind schedule I started to replan the route and ration the food that we had brought along with us. We had enough food for 5 days between us if we were willing to be slightly hungry the whole time.. [I was praying the hut had left over food! 😕 ]
The next day, i knew it was going to be long.. even if Kyle was convinced it would be a half day. We loaded up with porridge and set off up the the end of the Matukituki river until we met a waterfall. We scrambled around the scree slopes [aka.. shitty NZ rock climbing] and began soloing the slabs up the valley so that we could get to the base of Bevan Col. We used ropes more for mental support as there was no pro to be places over 30m-60m.. BTW – climbing in mountain boots is messed up.. I definitely should have practiced before being thrown into the deep end (my heart is still beating a few paces faster than normal)
Once out of slab territory, it was a relativly eas scramble up to Bevan Col, where Mt Aspiring revealed herself! It was the most beautiful site I had ever seen.
Once in at the hut, I was relieved to see that we had extra food! We radioed into Mt Aspiring hut for the weather report and knew the next day (friday) was un-climbable due to the wind. However Saturday was meant to be a great day. We decided to wait it out and stay in the hut, summit on Saturday then egress on Sunday.
After a wild storm front came through on Friday night we woke Saturday morning to clear skies and still winds. We went for the summit and although we didn’t summit that day, it was the most exposed elegant and fun route I have ever been on in my life. The route was mainly rock and we were able to rap off the mountain onto the Therma glacier to get back to the hut.
Sunday we egressed, crossing some sketchy blue ice sections.. the walk out was long, slow and strikingly beautiful.
When back in Wanaka my obvious first choice of thing to do was to have a long awaited shower! There is nothing that fixes things more than a shower at the end of a long trip.