Aoraki - Mt Cook - Ominous cloud in the early morning

Aoraki – Mt Cook – Ominous cloud in the early morning

In mid Dec – during the height of the Christmas weather, Trent came back to visit Mt cook for the 3rd time.  Wx once again was not on Trent’s side for a summit attempt.  SW – SE flows had put down at least 1.5 feet of snow over a 48 hour period and with poor visibility and rising freezing level forecast things didn’t seem on for a cook climb.

A foray to put tracks through the lower icefall to Tiechelman’s corner ended up with us in knee deep snow and for Trent a feeling of Deja’vu.  That night it snowed at least 15cm, refilled our tracks and didn’t clear the next day until very late in the afternoon.

This meant that the entire Linda Glacier was now at least knee deep in new snow and the Linda Shelf in an unknown amount – all waiting for the sun to heat it up, or wind to whip around into windslab ..

Mt Dixon East Ridge - The Access Gullys

Mt Dixon East Ridge – The Access Gullys

We’d talked about other options and the importance of not being overwhelmingly fixated on one objective.  This allowed us to have a go at climbing Mt Dixon (3004m) on a SW forecast stating clear skies and moderate winds.

This meant that the dawning grey moody skies over Mt cook and the brief southerly front that hit us on the summit were quite the contrast to the previous forecast – however – this is NZ weather.

The climbing onto the east ridge is via a really nice ice gullys on the lower E ridge and open snow slopes to the true east ridge.  From there it follow a number of short steps to an ever widening and steepening summit ridge where it briefly joins the S rigde before the true summit.  We arrived ther ein 70km hr winds – be we could see through the frontal clouds to all the sun behind them – so we were reasonably sure that the storm would be short lived.

Back down the mountain to the gullys and a few quick raps back down over the shrund – a great day out on the Grand Plateau and Mt Dixon.