By Terra Dumont, 01 December 2009
Adventures with Tony 1
After missioning around Christchurch for a day buying Jack some new toys, we arrived at Unwin Lodge (Mt. Cook) around midnight. No one was up in the main building, so we poked our heads into the bunkrooms. No one was awake in the first two, but then in the 3rd we struck gold – two climbers, still up, watching a movie. Our luck held even further, as they where Tony and Ben, whom we had come to meet up with. This is Tony’s second season in Mt. Cook, working on a documentary on climbing the mountain. As his climbing and filming partner Stig couldn’t come this year he was looking for people to climb with, so upon being asked, I jumped at the opportunity, and Jack came with me. Ben had done the same. I had climbed with him on Ruapehu a year ago, so it was great to see him again.
Our first mission was to head up to the Reay Glacier below Mt. Chudliegh via the Dorthy Glacier, so Tony could get sunrise footage of Mt. Cook and Ben and I could practice climbing together prior attempting more serious routes. After the mandatory sludge up the road to the remains of Ball Shelter, we cut across the Tasman Glacier. I had not been on moraine for two years, and began to have way too much fun boulder hopping, regardless of the 50 – 100km winds which where literally blowing us over. We then started up the stream leading to the Dorthy Glacier. It started out pretty easy, but quickly turned into a more and more difficult gorge. We had to scramble up above the cliffs and carefully pick ourselves routes along the steep, loose rock. It ended up coming to the point it was pretty well impassable, so we set up camp for the night, giving up hopes of Chudleigh. Tony did get some interesting shots of Cook through the gorge though, so it was not a complete failure.
Late the next morning we wandered up the snow gully beside us to get higher so Tony could hopefully get his sunrise footage the next morning. The most amazing panorama I had ever seen awaited us. Our view stretched from far to the East all the way to Mt. Elle De Beaumont, with Cook full center, towering above everything else.
After setting up camp Jack and I decided to use the rock gear we had hulled all the way up there. We did two ~ 40m climbs of easy grade. It was great to get back onto mountain trad. It was Jacks first time climbing Mt. Cook rock (think weetbix), but he led it with no problems. We then watched the sun set from the top of a little nob, before wandering back down due to our grumbling stomachs.
The next morning there was a fantastic sunrise – but to Tony’s disappointment Cook was shrouded in cloud. The next day we decided to find an alternative route home, instead of back tracking through the gorge, which really was a mission none of us wanted to repeat if we had a choice not to. It was a good choice. We just dropped down a snow slope which became a scree slope, and where even able to find a relatively easy route down the moraine wall. We even managed to get part way across the moraine before the rain and wind truly hit us.