27th July 2020
Lured by good conditions and a new adventure we completed an ascent on the South Face of Mt Aspiring. Kia rapu i tõku māramatanga [Seeking the Light] is a 300m ice and mixed climb situated on the right hand side of the face. It tops out part way up the Coxcomb Ridge with the final ridge traverse remaining one of the most exposed, and exhilarating of its kind in New Zealand.
The whole adventure took just under 24 hours. The long approach from French Ridge hut allowed us to travel lighter without a tent, but meant an extended day. The wind continued to build through the evening and covered our tracks creating a slightly more convoluted return to French Ridge hut.
We had many epic experiences on this adventure, from retreating back down the Coxcomb Ridge due to high winds, to ropes getting stuck on short overhanging rappels, to wandering around in the dark in increasing wind trying to locate our snow shoes. The snow shoes are still up on the Bonar Glacier somewhere, along with 12 metres of rope that was cut off, and a couple of ice screws.
Access and egress from French Ridge hut took 18 hours (most of it in the dark), the climb itself just 5 and a half.
This contrast alone reminds me that it’s not reaching the summit that teaches us the biggest lessons (we didn’t summit), but the journey. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true.
It was an opportunity to explore my reserves even more, to remain alert, engaged and vigilant until the end, to analyse opportunities for improvement, and forge and deepen friendships. The mountains still fascinate me. I don’t fully understand why I thrive on the discomfort that they provide but it’s available there in abundance. And the lessons keep coming.
Thanks for tuning in, until the next time….