Susan Lowery • Mounts Aspiring & Earnslaw • New Zealand • January 2003

Susan Lowery joined Kathy and Mark for a week of climbing in the Mount Aspiring area. Like the previous trip to this area, the weather was anything but consistent. However, on Susan's trip we were lucky enough to find a small window for Aspiring on day 2. We zipped up and this, flew out and still had time to spare for Mount Earnslaw.

Other Recent Trips

Our first day, about half and hour after the helicopter dropped us off at Bevan Col. Susan and Kathy check out the route on Aspiring. Bevan Col can be seen behind on the left.


After dropping our packs at the Colin Todd Hut, we scampered a short way up the Shipowner ridge for a view of the peak. The summit swirls in cloud and snow. Just a few days before a good bit of now snow was put down, easily seen here. Fortunately, even the cold sun of this day was enough to melt most of it from the rocks for our ascent the following day.


Susan and Kathy on summit day. Here, we are above most of the difficulties, putting on a few more bits of clothing to counter the very high winds.


The obligatory summit photo. We only stayed a few moments as the winds were ferocious.


Looking to the north from near the summit. The peaks are Stargazer and Moonraker. Rumor has it that the opening scenes from "The Two Towers" the second of the Lord of the Rings movie Trilogy, were shot flying along this ridge. These remote peaks of the Haast Range are very seldom visited.


Susan and Kathy on the rocks of the NW Ridge.


Back at the hut after the climb.


Cooking up a curry at the hut.


Moving right along, we flew out the following noon, catching a "back-flight" from another group coming in, and drove over the Queenstown. Over dinner in an East Indian restaurant we planned our next assault, that of Mount Earnslaw.

Here we are hiking up the Rees Valley en route to the peak.


Our first night was spent in a "rock bivy" in Kea Basin. All over the mountains of New Zealand, resourceful climbers and trampers have turned many an ordinary boulder or overhang into a fine all-weather shelter. They are even marked on the maps. This one had several "levels" a nice, clean straw floor, nearby water and no rodents.


On our second day of the Mount Earnslaw climb, we hike up pleasant meadows to above the grass line. Mount Head, the highest peak of the Forbes Mountains lies behind.


Higher we pass through Wright Col heading to the Esquilant bivy, the hut from which nearly all Mount Earnslaw ascents are made.


The following day, climbing in and out of cloud, we climbed Earnslaw. Here Susan and Kathy enjoy the sun on the final summit ridge.


On the summit. The 10 meter lower West Summit can be seen behind.


While we were climbing a young solo climber was attempting the traverse between the East and the West Summits. But with high winds and now snow, conditions were not good for this difficult route and we can see him returning back to East Summit for an easier descent.


Descending back into the mists, off the summit.


Foggy climbing on the descent.


Returning back to the hut. The sharp summit of Pluto behind.


The new and old Esquilant huts.


Despite a mediocre forecast, we had a lovely sunset at the hut.


Ferns in the forest on the hike out.


The pleasant walk out, down the Rees Valley.


With one day left, we decided to do a bit of sport climbing on the cliff just above Queenstown.

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