Climb Mt Aspiring with Tim Robertson
Why climb Mt Aspiring?
Climbing Mt Aspiring is special because it’s the only 3000 m peak outside the Aoraki/Cook and Westland National Parks. It’s one of the few mountains in New Zealand that you can still walk out from, with the glacial recession. You can actually walk in on foot and climb it too.
Mt Aspiring changes in character a lot from spring to late summer. It starts off being quite snowy, a snow climb, whereas in late summer you’re climbing almost entirely on rock
Mt Aspiring has a relatively low objective danger, it’s different from Aoraki/Mt Cook.
Are there particular challenges in this mountain?
It’s a long way south and west so it’s the first to catch bad weather. It’s so prominent above the terrain around it that it catches any weather or wind. Late in the autumn if you have snow it can get iced up, while early in the spring you can have problems with avalanche danger. The weather changes quickly on Aspiring.
Getting across from French Ridge Hut to the Quarterdeck can be a problem. The access getting in and out is complicated. Because it’s not well frequented, it is not marked. There are famous epic tales of people getting lost going up or down Bevan Col or on the Bonar Glacier. It’s easy to get lost if you don’t know what you’re doing: people have ended up on the West Coast.
How do you approach this ascent?
I like to fly in to Bevan Col, that allows us to get a better chance at a good weather window. If people are super pack fit, really strong at carrying a big pack, then we can walk in. That takes two days. They need to be strong enough to do the climb afterwards.
So what do you look for in a client for a successful summit attempt?
For early-season climbs: efficiency on moderate to steep snow and ice, front pointing skills. Later in the season: efficient scrambling in big boots, the ability to climb well on rock in mountaineering boots. When I say it’s a rock climb, you’re not wearing rock shoes.
To climb Mt Aspiring is more like an 8-12 hour day.