21st October 2020
I returned to the Grand Plateau this week during a break in the weather. All the pent up enthusiasm after patiently waiting out storm after storm went to good use. The storms brought fantastic coverage to the glaciers and left some crucial ice where it mattered most.
Sooji Clarkson and I were very pleased to find sporty mixed conditions in the Central Gully of the West Face on Mt Dixon. There was plenty of easy terrain through the middle section, but the first pitch and fourth pitch were spicy and interesting. We descended the South East Ridge in excellent conditions. The descent gully had perhaps the best coverage I’ve ever seen and we returned to the hut from the summit in just over an hour.
Uncomfortable winds the following morning beat us back from our next objective. We sat under the bothy bag for 45 minutes waiting for things to settle, but it made me cold and sleepy and somewhat demotivated. Alpine starts are overrated. Sometimes it’s better to have a late start!
Before exiting the mountains we had time to explore a hidden treasure in the Bowie Couloir of Aoraki Mt Cook. Sooji had been patiently agreeing to climb my objectives, and hadn’t climbed Aoraki herself so it was time for me to compromise. We were very pleased to find a new and interesting variation to the standard couloir, breaking right three quarters of the way up.
We found a beautiful ice chandelier baking in the sun and climbed the shadiest part carefully, continuing through to find a nice 55m pitch of mixed climbing that would fit well onto the side of the Remarkables.
Now that things have settled down I expect to attempt some more climbs later this week.
Until the next time. Thanks for tuning in.