A Travellerspoint blog

Queenstown, NZ

Day 9-12 - April 27-30


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Former British outposts the world over bear the marks of English civility and urban design. Proving no exception, the central gardens of the South Island with a mountainous backdrop, waterfront wharf, and colonial tea houses could easily be mistaken as home for a boy from Victoria.

Known in modern times as the site of the world's first bungee jump, Queenstown is the unquestioned heart of extreme sport in New Zealand.

With rain and wind preventing most bungee jumps and skydiving trips, a short walk discovers an epitaph in the city's most prominent park - a reminder that this southern point has always been home to adventurers. This granite monument stands to tell the tale of British military explorers who reached the South Pole but perished on the return journey.

Captain Scott's Last Message:

"... we arrived within eleven miles of our old one ton camp with fuel for one hot meal and food for two days. For four days we have been unable to leave the tent, the gale is howling about us.

We are weak, writing is difficult, but, for my own sake I do not regret this journey, which has shown that Englishmen can endure hardships, help one another, and meet death with as great a fortitude as ever in the past.

We took risks; we knew we took them. Things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of providence, determined to still do our best to the last.

Had we lived I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale."

- R. Scott, 25th March, 1912

It would be hard to find more stark example of human resilience and bravery than that demonstrated in these final words of a champion explorer.

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Posted by evancampbell 16:56 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wanaka, NZ

Day 8 - April 26

Having had a hot meal, a shower, and a reminder of the wonders of central heating, we set off from Wanaka with 120 metres of rope in the car and hopes set on the technical rock cliffs outside of town.

The rock was black. Not good. The soft Otago Schist stone was supposed to be a light grey. The rock was wet, very wet. Ascending even these small vertical cliff faces would only prove to be a tireless chore of rope climbing.

A mountainous hike through a mossy green Middle-Earth was our only option on our last course day.

With the 30km long Lake Wanaka stretched out before us as we walked muddy switchbacks surrounding the smaller Diamond Lake, we were all grateful to no have been caught on the alpine mountains as the deluge descended.

The Czech mountaineers we met in passing on our prior day at Mount Cook were in for much unpleasantness, particularly as the wellworn world alpinists had opted to trek up to base camp over the comfort and costs of the helicopters. Hope they brought enough lembas to weather the storms.

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Posted by evancampbell 09:35 Comments (0)

Mount Cook, NZ

Day 7 - April 25

Last day on the mountain was cut short due to impending 110kph winds and torrential rains.

Out at 6am to cram in two ice climbs, countless kilometres of snow trekking, and simulated glacier rescues.

Choppered out at 3pm under clear and calm skies, but as predicted the storm arrived soon after we left - trapping the remaining climbers on the mountain for 2 more days with all the heli's grounded.

If you look hard in the photos below, the scale of the glacier field and mountains becomes apparent...

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Posted by evancampbell 22:55 Comments (0)

Mount Cook, NZ

Day 6 - April 24

It is dark and cold, and everything around is a shade of blue. It is 10am and I am 10 metres down a crevasse in the middle of the Mount Cook glacial field.

Below me Phil estimates the crevasse falls off another 50 metres but from where I am it just looks like gaping blackness. Above me is a thin slit of blue sky.

My mountaineering companions are safe in the sun, under strict instructions not to help me. Aussie rules is hard, Kiwi rules are harder - hanging on a single rope attached only to a stake in the ice on the surface, I need to emerge.

Fortunately for me I only briefly contemplated the consequences of mis-tying a rope as I slipped climbing back up over the inverted lip. Had panic set in earlier there could have been an issue.

With that over I was back topside and ready for another 5 hours of trekking.

Note: base camp gets no reception, so my messages only get sent if I have battery in my phone and climb closer to 2,500m. My batteries are nearly
all dead.

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Posted by evancampbell 21:35 Comments (0)

Mount Cook, NZ

Day 5 - April 23

"I was going to tell you your crampon was coming off the one foot but you were just about to hit the vertical so I figured I wouldn't psych you out"
- Phil

Hardly fault my legendary, helmetless, ropeless, kiwi mountain man Phil for being impressive, but safety warnings are far from his most admirable quality.

"Yeah, I figured you could manage. Worst case you fall, it's only ice and rocks" - Phil

Regardless, another day of survival - another local peak in the bag. Last day on the mountain coming up as gale force hits the slopes on Saturday.

Tomorrow I make sure to double check my own equipment.

"Yeah the books tell you to clip in twice, but it's a bit of a pain and it never comes up so I don't. Do what you like, it's your life" - Phil, while swigging from a 2L Schweppes he just hiked up a vertical face at near 3,000m

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Posted by evancampbell 20:55 Comments (0)

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