Well after 4 years of wanting to do it I finally manged to get a none work period to coincide with a good weather window and a chance at making a speedriding descent off the top of Mt Cook.
In the end it turned into a 36 hour round trip from Wanaka. I flew in with a heli load of people to Plateau hut – uncertain if I had a rope party to wander up the Linda glacier with. As it turned out I teamed up with Bram Whillock, a ske mountaineering type who wanted to make a ski descent of Mt Cook.
Bram has been going around doing all kinds of interesting things – check out his site : www.bramski.org
Anyway – I had planned on having a night in Plateau hut to acclimatise but as things go we ended up making the most of the good weather and afer flying in at 3:30 we were awake at 12:00 midnight, getting our gear on and starting to skin / ski over towards the mouth of the Linda glacier. Bram and I had agreed to only us the rope if we really needed to on the glacier – we had a great freeze and were were also using ski’s – damn hard work on the frozen snow really. The crevasses were reasonable well bridged and with a great freeze it was pretty safe – safer then being roped up and on ski’s at any rate. Bram did mention, after he had returned to the hut, that he was sure the crevasses had opened up during the night …. I told him that just hadn’t been able to see how big they were!
Overall this wee mission would have to have been, what felt like my worst ever climb of Aoraki via the Linda glacer – I was feeling a bit ill (prob mild AMS) had quite a lot of nervous energy (ie scared) and really didn’t want to have to make a repeat attempt the next night! The summit rocks were fairly boney and free of snow / ice which actually makes them easier to climb. As we topped out on the the summit ridge a fair amount of cloud started to rise out the Tasman Valley and onto the Grand Plateau – not ideal for a landing. Conditions on the summit were also a little bit firm with no really “safe” place to make a good launch and with a SW tail wind I felt it better to fly from just below the summit – at the summit ice cap shrund.
By the time I’d gotten all ready to go and sorted out wing, skis and camera’s the cloud had broken and I had a great line down to the mouth of the Linda Glacier …
Big thanks to Bram Whillock and Paul Rogers for additional outside footage.