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February: Mt Aspiring

Posted 20-Mar-2018 by Norsewear

Hi, I’m Aroha Hyland and for my mum’s 60th birthday we embarked on a mission to summit Mt Aspiring/Tititea under the watchful eye of good friend and guiding legend Mark Woodward, aka Woody. We got to 100m below the summit before a southerly front forced us down, but it was an epic few days. 

It began with mum’s first helicopter ride to Bevan Col, then hours meandering across the Bonar Glacier to Colin Todd Hut where we camped amongst the rocks and kea. A 4.30am start, saw us crest the Iso Glacier then the Therma Glacier as the sun rose. Then we began the tricky climb of the North West Ridge. Mum was as happy as a mountain goat, unlike me with little experience on exposed ridgelines and scrambling up slabs using cracks as hand holds. Woody was reassuring, patient and promised he wasn’t going to let me fall off the hill. 

We warily eyed the weather, but as we reached the summit snowcap we were forced to retreat. It was that, or end up in Wellington on a jet stream. We had some fun abseils down and back to the hut, tired but satisfied. 

The forecast showed worsening weather, so we made the call to hike out in the rain and wind the next morning. We followed Woody around the crevasses and then through Quarterdeck Pass. Unfortunately we couldn’t see much, but maybe that was a good thing – apparently we were very close to one hell of a drop into Gloomy Gully. French Ridge Hut was a welcome refuge from the rain. 

The final day provided some excellent views but also very sore knees from the massive descent. It all seems surreal now, with photos and bruises to help tell the tale.

Happy birthday Mum.


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