It’s a rainy day today in Wanaka, New Zealand. Lake Wanaka, which is usually a brilliant turquoise, is a dreary gray, and a smoky mist covers the surrounding hills. Rainy days usually make me feel cooped-up (especially when I’m on vacation), but today the rest is welcome. A week ago, I hiked into Mount Aspiring National Park with seven days of food and two climbing pals. Five days later, we had managed to climb Mount Aspiring (3033m) and make it back to the valley before getting shut in by the weather.
Even though climbing Mount Aspiring was our objective, the getting there allowed for a nice exploration of the area. We carried in packs full of gear and food, and the going was painfully slow. It took us two days of walking through terrain that changed from sheep pastures to boulder-filled riverbeds to crevasse-laden glaciers. On the second night, we established a camp at 1800m and then spent a night in the Colin Todd hut before climbing Mount Aspiring.
Climbing up through Bevan Col in order to bypass Mt. Bevan (2030m, below) proved to be the most difficult part of the hike in. A glacial stream cut through the col, and we scrambled up its sides in mountaineering boots, trying to keep our balance with the packs on shifting terrain.
Once we were at our high camp, though, we stashed our food and set out the next day with light packs to climb a feature in the Haast Range called the Rolling Pin (2249m, below). The Rolling Pin is a long rock ridge surrounded by glaciers, and the twin peaks Skyscraper (2347m) and Stargazer (2352m) towered above us on its northern end.
From the top of the Rolling Pin, we had a good view of Mount Aspiring’s North West Ridge, the route we climbed the following day. Mount Aspiring’s summit appeared and disappeared in swirly afternoon clouds, and below us glaciers sparkled in the sun. Their gaping crevasses could have been gills, breathing in the beauty, just as we were from the top of that ridge.
Life: Climbing Aspiring (to include: puking on glaciers, taking snowball showers, and other more brilliant aspects of life without a toilet or Internet access).