/ Acclimatisation Peaks in NZ Southern Alps

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Raymondo - on 11 Oct 2016
Hi All,

I have a week spare before some Alpine Climbing in NZ's Southern Alps, and wish to get some acclimatisation in before hand, probably in the Mt Cook, Queenstown, or Wanaka areas.
Does anyone have any tips as to what solo peaks (easy grade) or walks/hikes might be available.

I think there are some kiwi posters on UKC so I live in hope.

Ta.
ben b - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Raymondo:

Mt Earnslaw would tick the boxes - a very kiwi approach with river crossings, much uphill and a fine view from the top I believe. Handy base in Glenorchy and not too glaciated.

Mt Brewster might be another possibility (more West Coast but accessible from Wanaka). Ditto Gertrude Saddle for Fiordland.

Around Aoraki, the walk up to the DOC high altitude backpacker hostel, the Mueller Hut, has a non-glacial approach and the Annette Plateau beyond Kitchener is a nice objective. The climb up to the Sefton Bivouac is also a fun trip http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=186259 and http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=186258

What time of year are you here?

Cheers

b
BruceM - on 11 Oct 2016
Adding to Ben's ex ideas:

Ball Pass with a bivvy on top is a good fitness blast. Brilliant views.

Dasler Pinnacles (Ohau just north of Cook), is a long hike (rivers) to the biv, but nice scramble.

From Wanaka, the peaks above Cascade Saddle are nice viewpoints. Or go up French Ridge.

Homer Tunnel Area Milford (Ben mentions) - loads of great long day scrambles, if weather is kind ?!? and you are brave.

A biggish pack than what you are used to in europe and an overnighter up/over any good looking ridge/hill will prepare you well. You prob need mountain fitness more than "acclimatization" over there.

Have fun
Bruce



ben b - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to BruceM:

I can attest to the joys of French Ridge with a 100l pack and plastic boots as a first outing off the plane in NZ. That was 14 years ago and I think I have recovered physically if not emotionally

All great ideas there Bruce, thanks

b
Raymondo - on 11 Oct 2016
Thanks Guys, a wealth of information, sounds like there are lots of options.
I was worried the options would be few and far between.

I'm going out in mid February, the objective is Malte Brun.

Even 3000m will sap energy and strength if not somewhat acclimatised.
Of course, I need to get some heavy pack training in now.

Tom Last - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to ben b:

Agree with Ben here, Mt Earnslaw is great and doable in a pretty quick hit.
Damo on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Raymondo:

>
> Even 3000m will sap energy and strength if not somewhat acclimatised.

While going above 3000m certainly makes a difference, in NZ you are up there so little time it barely matters - mostly on Aoraki/Cook. Just going up to 3000m on a few occasions won't do you any good in terms of altitude acclimatisation as very little adaptation will take place and you will quickly lose that little amount once you go down and sit in a cafe watching the rain for four days.

If you were looking to climb Aoraki and so did Tasman beforehand, and spent an hour or two on top then came down to Plateau Hut for the night then did Aoraki the next day, that might help, but you are not planning to do that.

> Of course, I need to get some heavy pack training in now.

That, however, is always a good idea.
damowilk on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to Damo:

Was just about to say the same: true altitude acclimatisation is not really an issue here, but psychological adjustment to long bush walk ins, with proper, sometimes dangerous, river crossings is definitely worthwhile.
Also rxoect poor rock quality on big mountain routes here.
Not really any specific objectives I would add, I'm more familiar with Arthur's Pass. Dasler pinnacles is a good one (the ridge is good fun, but avoid at all costs any of the so-called "routes" on the face), and lots more in that Hopkins, Huxley, and Temple streams area.
Raymondo - on 12 Oct 2016

Yes, I hear the rock is a little dubious.

OK, so I need not worry too much about altitude, just fitness.
That's ok, I can do that kind of practice where I live, ie big heavy packs.
Swampi on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Raymondo:

Just a heads up that when Kiwi's say the rock quality is poor it's a massive understatement. They're basically saying the entire mountain may collapse:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E28_3uj9K0g
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9G6aI49Le0

I think the above ridge between Haast and Dixon was described as "loose" in the guidebook before this happened!
ben b - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Swampi:

Geez Louise that's big.

Aoraki itself isn't as tall as it used to be - about 12 million cubic metres of it fell off in 1991....

http://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2014/01/16/aoraki-mount-cook/

The mess travelled about 5 miles. Happily no-one was in the way.

cheers

b

Helen R on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to ben b:

> I can attest to the joys of French Ridge with a 100l pack and plastic boots as a first outing off the plane in NZ. That was 14 years ago and I think I have recovered physically if not emotionally

Me too. But only 9 years ago, so the recovery continues. You just started off a flashback.

OP: Sorry I don't have any more suggestions as I'm more armchair-based these days, and I hope you have a great trip.
ben b - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Helen R:
Hello stranger! Welcome to the French Ridge PTSD Club. Did yours involve a wild sou'wester and laybacking vertical tree roots, by any chance?

Do you think we have put the OP off yet?

b
Post edited at 08:58
Helen R on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to ben b:

oh god. the tree roots.

Throughout the vertical tree root layback section (which seemed like hours and hours) i was mostly thinking "in new zealand this counts as a 'path'?!!". That, swearing, and "will anyone find my body?"

OP (as I'm trying to keep this helpful) do log your intentions with DOC especially if you are solo - it certainly felt worthwhile at some choice moments of my wilder walks (where you hardly ever see another soul).
ben b - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Helen R:

I didn't take any photos (it wasn't really the weather for it and I didn't want to let go of the vegetation), but it doesn't actually look that bad on google...
https://tramper.nz/1610/french-ridge-track/

Thankfully there is some evidence that we aren't alone in recalling the horror:
http://www.notey.com/@wildsnow_unofficial/external/6981563/wildsnownz-—-french-ridge-hut.html does describe "climbing 3,000ft of the steepest jungle “trail” known to man" and the rather splendidly captioned photo "Here I am heel hooking a branch"

b
BruceM - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to ben b:
Gosh! Before those last few posts about French Ridge, I was going to say: but it is actually a (well-used) track! Steep I agree. You should try some of the other "tracks" around. Mt Adams on the W Coast for example. Good bit of tree tunneling to be had. But really nice peak once you're up there. Guess it depends what sort of apprenticeship you've had...

However, with an overnight pack, French Ridge is a really good way to get fit. Only prob is that as a solo person you prob wouldn't get to the "top" of something, as there are/were a few slots around above the hut.

But Malte Brun is the final target? Great choice, as it has some of the best rock -- for a mountain -- in kiwiland. You still have a little bit of rubbish to get up to the good part of the ridge. Awesome views from the top. Access to Beetham Valley from the moraine deteriorated (more) in last 15 years and you have to be careful in there.

And in that case, Ball Pass is poss worth thinking about, as a prerun, because you can see your main route and the access [ ] from there. The Hooker side of Ball Pass is easier/safer than the Tasman. But these kinds of things are serious alpine "tramps", so if by self and first time in that sort of terrain...perhaps not. A good track like Mueller Hut is a safe-ish bet.

But above all else, I think the weather will be the biggest challenge. But if it is kind....
walts4 - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Raymondo:
Climbed Malte Brun many years ago, I'd be more concerned about the walk in/out to be honest than the actual acclimatisation issues.
I walked in with a mate, but due to health issues on my mates part, ended up soloing it.
Maybe have some days out from Mt Cook village then just walk in & take it from there.
Post edited at 16:57
ben b - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to BruceM:
I certainly underestimated the step up from UK or European mountain walking and easy mountaineering to the NZ version, technically straightforward but generally far more serious.

Main kiwi acclimatisation goal is learning to wear shorts for everything apart from when it rains, when it's shorts plus stripy polypro long johns.

B
Raymondo - on 12 Oct 2016
" shorts plus stripy polypro long johns"

I've heard that described as 'ugly but functional".

Thanks for all the info and anecdotes, should be an interesting time.
We've allowed a week for Malte Brun, including flight in, and walk out.

I may need to redefine my definition of crappy rock, LOL.

ben b - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Raymondo:

Have a great trip
AdrianC - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Raymondo:

Where are you thinking of flying to? I keep wishing we had a landing site in the Beetham but I think Darwin Corner is the nearest landing - no?
JXM - on 12 Oct 2016
In reply to Raymondo:

All good suggestions above. General mountain fitness is far more important (less so if you fly in) than acclimatisation for alpine climbing in NZ. I have added a photo from French Ridge to my gallery if you still fancy "just" going up to French Ridge Hut.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=283529
Simon4 - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to JXM:

That looks charming, irresistible! For those in love with Wales in November.

And I was thinking about going to NZ as well.
Raymondo - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to AdrianC:

AFAIK the flight goes to the upper Tasman Glacier.
Will know post event.
BruceM - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to Simon4:

Ahh, but _This_

https://flic.kr/p/NazvKP

is where Raymondo is going. His peak is up there on the RH skyline. This picture is from Ball Pass. Note the shorts and stripes! They got me up Malte Brun too. Purple and Black that time, I think. Nice contrast.
ben b - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to BruceM:

Pah! Dowdy polypro alert...

http://www.wellingtonsurplus.com.au/mediumimages/WW0580.jpg for the win.

I don't think I have ever seen the gaiters / shorts / long coat combo outside of NZ, just revealing a few inches of leathery knee for ventilation

b

BruceM - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to ben b:

Well Raymondo seems to be based in Brisbane where he will be no doubt running up and down Mt Barney training, so he will prob bring exactly that combo above topped with an Akubra hat for Malte. No?

And that balaclava looks just like something I might have owned once...

Have also seen the striped-poly/shorts look on a window dummy in Snells in Chamonix
about ~4 years ago. Had I started a local craze? Didn't seem to catch.

For the record, I got sick of all the stares in Scotland and (earlier, and especially!) Wales, so ditched that kind of kit back around then and now look boring black/grey like everybody else. But what a weight these modern outdoors trousers add. Polypro and shorts is definitely the ultra way to go still.

Anyway, what has all this got to do the topic...
Simon4 - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to ben b:

> I don't think I have ever seen the gaiters / shorts / long coat combo outside of NZ, just revealing a few inches of leathery knee for ventilation

Now that IS a good reason to visit NZ!

Not only do they have some very spectacular looking Alpine mountains, they clearly share my fashion sense.

Hardonicus - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to Swampi:

Hah! The Mt Dixon rockfall happened about a week after we climbed it as a warm up for Aoraki.

Regarding the OP I would echo the others on here saying acclimatisation is not the issue, more the brutal back country. Doing Dixon was plenty enough to feel fine on Aoraki (we didn't summit cause of post-storm hard ice on the summit ridge though).

The walk out from the Plateau Hut is not something I ever want to repeat though...
ads.ukclimbing.com
ben b - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to BruceM:

I'll have to look out the photos of me on a KIMM back in the day in stripy polypro LJs and shorts over. The balaclava was blue purple and black stripes too, so I cut quite a dash as I staggered along with my bubblewrap bed flapping in the breeze.

You may have mistaken me for someone serious, I fear.... ;-)

cheers

b

Raymondo - on 15 Oct 2016
In reply to BruceM:
"Well Raymondo seems to be based in Brisbane where he will be no doubt running up and down Mt Barney training"

Erm, I should be, but haven't been up Mt Barney for quite a while now. Not good, long overdue.
I was at Mt Beerwah last Sunday, good rock !

But I digress, really looking forward to Malte Brun, et al.
Always liked to climb Mt De La Breche too.

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