On the summit of Magellan last week I stood tired and elated with the end of my mission to complete climbs of the 24 mountains over 3,000m. It has been a wild ride.
Uncertainty always lingered, and tenacity was a well mined resource. I could have made things easier and faster by doing things a lot differently. I could have just climbed the nine remaining summits to bag the 24. But I wanted to photograph and film all of these beautiful places from scratch in their best state – calm weather. That often meant starting ridiculously early, or in some cases, strategically late, so that we could catch the best light and climbing or skiing conditions. It worked out and I got home safely.
The task of completing Magellan was never easy. I’d tried before and turned around due to strong winds. This time around the wind created more issues en route to camp as it blasted us on the summit ridge. We bailed into the La Perouse Glacier which put us in the wrong area to climb Magellan directly, camp to camp. It meant that we had to climb a challenging rock route (grade 21 sustained) with heavy packs. We were exhausted after just 2 pitches of 9!
It also slowed our goal of climbing the following day. Our trip from camp to camp took 16 hours instead of 8 or 9. I was keen to return to Mt Hicks to climb a rock route. It was too late in the season when I finally reached Hicks in October for any decent ice conditions, so I turned my attention to the North Rib, also known as the Biscuit Tin Route. Five days into our trip and the freezing level had been above 4,000m for a number of days and the snow and ice was soft and sloppy. A rock route in the sun was a great solution.
I’m extremely grateful for the experiences I’ve had, the climbing companions who’ve accompanied me, and the people who’ve supported this project. I’ve enjoyed observing my own mental health change with access or lack of access to the mountains due to either Covid, bad weather or other commitments. I’m happy to say that my conclusions are positive and I plan to continue to evolve through regular contact with nature and adventure. I never thought that this would be something I’d achieve when I first started my relationship with New Zealand 20 years ago. The idea evolved 16 years ago, and somehow lingered until it was ready to mature. Now, part 1 is complete.
Just in case you were wondering, this isn’t the end. I’ve still got a book to write, and a video to edit, each of which is a massive mountain in their own right. That will likely keep me busy until Sept or October 2021. If you want to keep track of progress, remember to sign up here for email updates. That way you’ll be the first to know what’s happening.
Until the next time,