Mount Cook Adventures • New Zealand • January 2003

Here are a few photos from our New Zealand vacation. No sooner than we arrived in Christchurch, it started to rain. This was fine with us as it gave us an opportunity to get over jet lag, see a bit of the country and otherwise enjoy ourselves prior to taking on any horrendous climbs. We spent a day in Christchurch, then drove over Arthur's Pass to the west coast. Here we enjoyed sand flies and fish and chips, drove down to Fox and checked the Department of Conservation (known affectionately as DOC) weather forecast. Lo and behold, a big high pressure heading our way! So a quick drive south to Wanaka, back north to Mount Cook Village and we were just in time for a spell of absolutely prefect climbing conditions and weather.

Other Recent Trips

Our first day on the road, not far from Christchurch, we saw these fantastic looking rocks just off the highway. This is a bit of the Quantum Field, a section of the Castle Hill basin of limestone blocks and towers. Bouldering on rounded slopers is the name of the game here.


After driving over Arthur's Pass we arrive at the west coast. Green to the sea... This is Knight's Point a fine overlook. A sign says that looking south, in this direction, there is nothing until Antarctica, and probably not much there either.


In driving a big counter clockwise loop around the bulk of the Southern Alps, we come east again and things begin to dry out. This is Lake Hawea, quite close to Wanaka.


Another view of Lake Hawea. In bad weather, powerful NW winds blow down these lakes.


So finally, as per the DOC forecast, the skies clear. Here we are, hiking up the east side of the Hooker Glacier en route to the Empress Hut. Our goal is to do the Grand Traverse on Cook, the cloud-capped peak on the right. It is a big day up to the hut, and our bodies were more accustomed to sitting in planes and cars than tough off-train hiking.


The Empress Hut at last. The South Face of Mount Hicks behind.


Sunset over La Perouse from the hut doorstep.


With a latish start (by Cook standards) of 3 am—we were still pretty tired from the long approach—we head for Porter's Col, the low point between the Low and Middle peaks of Cook. Here we are on hard snow just below the Col, enjoying the views as the sun comes up.


Looking north to the High Peak of Cook. The GT follows the crest all the way.


This view is looking back to the south from between the Middle Peak and the High Peak. The Low Peak is off to the right.


Kathy goes sideways on the traverse. There was lots and lots of steep sideways frontpointing. Unlike the European Alps, where there would probably be a distinct line of foot prints, here, we saw very little sign of previous passage.


This shot is from our descent of the Linda Glacier, not far below the summit. Two climbers can be seen heading down to the summit rocks.


The Plateau Hut and the east side of Cook. We arrived at the hut about 3 PM, rather tired, but decidedly happy (also a bit relieved to have made it down the Linda Glacier in one piece). The following day, the day this photo was taken we rested, waiting to see what the forecast was calling for.


The forecast was not good, so the day after our rest we hiked out via Cinerama Col, a rather taxing journey with lots of loose morainal debris, sloppy snow and interesting routefinding. Here, Kathy looks up at Mount Tasman, while Mark stops to take yet another photo.


Sunrise over the peaks to the east. You can see the high clouds of the coming storm. By about 3 in the afternoon it was raining lightly.


Another party headed out over Cinerama Col that day. Mount Tasman in the background.


Lower down on the Tasman Glacier, not far from the carpark.


And back in the land of green things....

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