This was my first climb with any technical difficulty, and I didn't realize this until we were well into the climb.
Wednesday afternoon, 4 Feb, we drove to the end of the road in Mt Aspiring Nat'l Park, loaded the chopper and flew to Bevan Col (finally got my first helo ride!). The Colin Todd hut was full, so we stayed at the col and pitched our tent with another group. It was cold and windy, which was actually a good sign. We planned to wake at 0200 and move out at 0300, which is exactly what we did.
The night was spectacular, the sky bright with stars and the nearly full moon. We were able to cross the glacier with our headlights off, the moon was so bright. It set when we got to the rocks, and we used our lights. We were on snow for a while, then rocks, then snow again. It went like this through the early morning hours. We saw some other climbers, but we didn't go on the same route so we were mostly alone.
I didn't realize it was going to be as technical as it was. The previous day's rock climbing was a good drill. In the end, to get up two snowfields and the summit, I had to do actual ice climbing, with an ice hammer and the toes of the crampons, all the time belayed with ice screw anchors. It was unexpected and challenging, but I was right there at it. Only wish I'd had my softshell, but the guide said I wouldn't need it so I left it in the car. The wind would be fierce for a hundred meters or so, then die out, then it came back with a vengeance. It was on and off all the way up. Plus, there were times when I needed my ice-climbing gloves, but all I had were the fleecy ones. Ah, stop whining!
We summited at about 1015, the first people up there that day. Because of the weather, nobody had been up there for several days so it was like we were the first ever. All the others behind us followed our trail. We had something to eat, took some pictures and made ready to go down. Ice-climbing down is another new and special experience, and I get to go first, naturally.
The guide's route back to the tent was as unconventional as the way up, so we didn't see other people and we had to abseil all over the place and do a lot of climbing down as well. This was no Colorado hike! Anyway, we were back at the campsite in early evening.
Next morning, bad weather was heading in so we hustled out. The chopper was flying in the morning, so we left the extra food behind to be flown out, and started down. Again, we took an odd route and it took us over two hours to get down from the col to the Matukituki Valley headwaters, with much abseiling and climbing down. From the head of the valley, it was a mere 17-kilometer hike to the car, with full packs, through every sort of terrain. The slowest part was the temperate rain forest, but the worst thing was the sand flies, which swarmed whenever we stopped. So, no stopping for any length. It was cloudy, a little drizzly and threatened rained, but none came until we got to the car at about 1730. The mountain was done and behind us.
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