Wanaka is showing off another stunning day after a nice covering of snow on the mountains all around earlier this week. Mountain guide Gaz headed to Fox Glacier on Monday for another instruction course, this one for NZMGA. It was blowing such gail force winds on day one, the team could not fly up but spent the day on the lower glacier, going through all sorts of technical skills for mountain guiding. In the meantime, they are based at the Centennial hut, high up on the Franz Josef glacier.
We recently received some feedback from an instruction course participant, so here it is thrown into our latest : “…great course, Gary was a fantastic instructor and covered all aspects. Felt comfortable to ask questions and seek advice. Will recommend it in future. Thanks”
Now for the most important thing happening this week: one of our sustainability projects for the Alpinism and Ski base here in Wanaka is finished, a long term dream as well, ticked off the bucket list and we are mighty proud of it: as of now, we are putting power back into the grid with our brand new solar system. So, life is good and we’ll continue to plan more projects and dream a little.
views of Wanaka town, lake and mountains
No better place than Wanaka to start an Alpinism adventure in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. The small town on the edge of lake Wanaka is only a short drive from Mt Aspiring National Park, a fabulous playground. It is very well situated to go either East to Mt Cook or West to Fox Glacier depending on weather conditions.
Chief guide Gaz is off this afternoon for a few days of mountain guiding in the Southern Alps of NZ with a Swiss couple. The weather forecast looks great and details of this alpinism adventure will follow.
Given the weather at the start of this year, we cannot boast of any big achievements until now. The wild winds, snow and rain in the back country meant that for the latest window, the highest local peak, Mt Aspiring-Tititea, was a busy place during the last couple of days. This is what Mount Aspiring looked like yesterday morning:
Guided ascent of Mt Aspiring
Ready to fly on Thursday morning, the team got a ride with Aspiring Helicopters to Bevan Col and made their way across to Colin Todd hut. A 4.30 am start the next morning and several hours later saw them on the summit. Clouds cleared, it was cold and windy but good conditions for the guided climb up the Northwest ridge. A bonus was an organised flight back at the end of the day and as the next front was forecast, the team did not hesitate to jump on the helicopter. A fast and happy adventure and here a couple more photos:
Base to climb Mt Aspiring: Colin Todd hut
Climber on Mt Aspiring Northwest ridge
Descending Mt Aspiring-Tititea, 3033 m
Mountaineering courses in New Zealand are based out of great huts like the NZAC owned centenial hut – located at the head of the Franz Josef Glacier
At the head of the Franz Josef glacier is Centenial Hut. The recent NZ high alpine skills course run by Gary for the NZ Alpine Club, based themselves here for a few days of good weather covering crevasse rescue, pitching on snow and ice, navigation and weather forcasting.
specialised rock training, MJ leading
Aaron ready to belay us up
Aaron and MJ
Multipitch rock climbing on the granite slabs near Homer Tunnel in the Fiordland, Darren mountains was the start of this summers specialised Police SAR squad training.
Stunning location and excellent rock and even the Keas behaved themselves and did not destroy our packs.
The plan to do a traverse of Mt Macpherson over to Mt Talbot was thwarted by the Fiordland jungle mist, so after a slightly soggy ascent and descent to homer saddle, the continuation of specialised training was on the way back to Wanaka, with a climbing stop off at Kingston. Superb multipitch climbing with excellent lake views before a Queenstown burger.
Next climbing instruction installment will be in March …..what will we get up to then?…..
Mic, Monty and Pat high up on the Fox Glacier, New Zealand
A few months ago, we heard from Mic who had climbed Mt Cook as well as Mt Tasman with Gaz some years ago. He was keen to introduce his son Pat to Alpinism adventures and last month, together with his longtime mountaineering buddy Monty, the threesome arrived for a seven day mountaineering instruction course. At the base, this was the opportunity to finalize the latest Adventure Tourism auditing request and then our team hit the road to Fox Glacier; photos on the last blog but here now the feedback:
from Monty, after his fourth trip:
” Thank you very much again for a wonderful and friendly experience. I always come away from climbing trips with ‘Gaz’ with more confidence and desire for more mountain excursions. I know Mick and I will be planning our next trip as soon as we get back home. Gaz, your patient tutorial towards Pat in getting him to understand the complexity of climbing and how he can still enjoy it was most beneficial & assuring. A great mentor.
Iris, your hospitality as always was warm and generous. Till next time, Monty”
Thanks Monty, we look forward to it!
The peak season of mountaineering adventures in the Southern Alps has started with this last month of the year. Guided climbing adventures with us begin most often right here in Wanaka, including ascents of Mt Aspiring, Mt Tasman and of course the highest, Mt Cook – Aoraki.
Also mountaineering courses and Gary has just spent a 7 day trip with three Australians, based at Pioneer hut for the best weather days, learning, refreshing and improving alpine climbing skills, enjoying the alpine ambiance and taking in the wilderness aspect of the Southern Alps:
- Being dropped off in the Southern Alps
Learn the skills of alpine climbing from a professional IFMGA mountain guide
- Getting ready for the Wilderness
hire a mountain guide to learn the skills for alpine climbing in the Southern Alps of New Zealand
- truly glaciated terrain with plenty of crevasses
traveling over glaciers requires certain skills
- Crevasse rescue is part of the skills practiced on an instruction course
practicing crevasse rescue in New Zealand
- Ascending Mt Von Bulow, 2600 m
Summiting a peak during a mountaineering course
- Climbing Grey Peak, 2882 m
With a mountain guide, you can climb peaks during an instruction course
- Climbing up the Ridge, Grey Peak
- Ascent of Grey Peak on a mountaineering course
- Monty on the lead
Alpine climbing instruction course in NZ
- Fox glacier and Mt Tasman
Enjoying the moment on the Fox glacier with Mt Tasman in the back ground
Mic and Monty have both been on Alpinism adventures here with us before and it was a pleasure to introduce Mic’s son Pat to the fun and excitement of alpine climbing.
Gary Dickson, Mountain Guide IFMGA/NZMGA
Spring seems to race along in full speed and plenty of typical storms with lots of wind are blowing through, not so typical are all the thunder and lightning we had during the last few weeks though.
The chief mountain guide of Alpinism & Ski Wanaka, being president of the NZ mountain guides association, has just returned from Peru where an international meeting for the industry took place. Gary is now getting ready again for alpinism adventures in the Southern Alps. His schedule for the coming summer season is getting busy but there are a few slots available should you want him in person for your special ascent, a particular training course or ‘just’ an amazing week in the mountains.
Meanwhile in Wanaka, the native and not so native flora is displaying new beauty almost every day and guided walks are continuing to be part of our alpinism adventures.
lake Wanaka from the summit of Rocky Crop, Diamond lake loop track
As the ski season is coming to an end, the trekking boots will replace the ski boots, though there might be a ski touring adventure still to be enjoyed. Spring is the time of newly appearing buds and flowers, cute little lambs and beautiful young cattle frolicking about. The Matukituki valley is the perfect place to observe them while driving up to the end of the road for a visit to Rob Roy glacier cirque, or about half way along for the stunning Diamond lake loop track. Great trips for bird watching, sightseeing and hiking. Inspired yet?
Native bird of NZ, the charming little Tomtit
bird watching and sightseeing: part of guided trekking
Mountain parrot of the South Island of NZ
Climbing in Europe is behind us for another year and one of the last weeks there, mountain guide Gaz was out with friend and colleague Steve Jones on the Matterhorn, part of a team on a filmed documentary climb. Here, pictures of a helicopter near the famous peak and hut and Jamie training for his special summit, with camera man Keith, the Trient glacier providing the perfect background, (photos are by Brian Hall, prof. IFMGA mountain guide).
Jamie filmed by Keith with the Trient glacier in the back ground
action flying near the famous peak
Helicopter action near the Matterhorn
Ski touring conditions are good after the recent wild storms on the South Island and plenty of snow fall in the back country of the Southern Alps. Excellent for the New Zealand ski touring missions during the next couple of months. Barely over jet lag, but we had to take the opportunity with blue skies and a fresh covering of white gold to put on ski touring gear for a bit of back country fun. The last week has been fabulous and there was more action on the ski field for Iris while Gary is teaching rope rescue techniques. Get in touch for a ski touring adventure just for you and your team.