Occasional Climber

Cinerama Col, June 2019

A view from the helicopter to Mt Cook (left) and the Tasman Valley
A view from the helicopter to Mt Cook (left) and the Tasman terminal lake
Approaching the Grand Plateau. Hochstetter icefall is bottom left, Mt Dixon centre skyline and Plateau Hut the dot at centre right
A dusk view south of Plateau Hut, with the ANZAC Peaks and Cinerama Col behind
A dusk view south of Plateau Hut, with the top of the Hochstetter icefall and ANZAC Peaks behind
Dusk view from Plateau Hut to, from left, Malte Brun, Arguilles Rouges, Mt Nathan, Mt Chudleigh and Mt Johnson
Plateau Hut and Mt Cook under full moon light, viewed from the loo
At dawn on our approach to Mt Dixon, looking south to the ANZACs, Mounts Cook, Dampier, Vancouver, Silberhorn and Tasman
At dawn on our approach to Mt Dixon, looking south to the ANZACs, Mounts Cook, Dampier, Vancouver, Silberhorn and Tasman
Approaching Mt Dixon (3,004m, left of centre)
Approaching Mt Dixon (3,004m, right of centre), Tasman (3,497m) and Silberhorn (3,300m)
A view from my stance having just recrossed the bergshrund at the base of Mt Dixon. Powder dry snow afforded no protection on the steep chute above the schrund
Simon about to recross the schrund
On our approach to Point 2,452m - the small peak north of Glacier Dome
A view to the head of the Tasman Glacier, from Point 2,452m
A view of Hochstetter Dome (2,827m) from Point 2,452m
Looking south to Mt Cook (far right), the Tasman Glacier lake, Nuns Veil and Liebig Ranges, from Point 2,452m
Returning to Plateau Hut. Glacier Dome (2,424m) is left, the ANZACs (2,528m) dead ahead and, beyond Cinerama Col (2,333m), the East Ridge of Mt Cook stretching up right
Plateau Hut (2,200m) in sight again, dwarfed by Mt Cook (3,724m)
Getting ready for a dawn start on our descent over Cinerama Col
We headed west across the Plateau to begin with in order to avoid the most heavily crevassed terrain. Here Plateau Hut and the ANZACs are bathed in alpenglow
As the sun rose the moon set behind Dampier
A classic sunrise glow on Mt Cook
Plateau Hut is perched spectacularly above the Hochstetter icefall, with Malte Brun behind
At about the halfway point on the route to Cinerama Col
Picking a route through crevassed terrain, with the ice of Mt Cook's east face above
Approaching Cinerama Col, with the East Ridge of Mt Cook reaching skyward
A view north after about 3 hours of walking from Plateau Hut
Plateau Hut (2,200m) is in the left foreground here, with the Minarets (3,031 and 3,040m) behind
Nearly on Cinerama Col - the gradient was steeper than it appears from Plateau Hut
It took us about 4 hours to cover the distance between Plateau Hut and Cinerama Col. Here the Plateau stretches out to Mt Dixon - about 6.5 hours walk away
The view south over Cinerama Col (2,333m) to the Caroline Glacier
Our route picked a way down through a steep crevassed section as we worked our way around to the left below the ANZAC Peaks
Here the ANZACs are high above to the left. We are heading towards the dip (2,180m) to the left of the snow fang
A view back from the small saddle between the Caroline Glacier and Boys Glacier - our route down from Cinerama Col is all visible apart from the Col itself, which is hidden by the south western end of the ANZACs. The east ridge and Caroline Face of Mt Cook are left
Looking northeast, from about 2,150m, down Boys Glacier to the Tasman Glacier another 1,000m below
Descending Boys Glacier towards the Tasman Glacier
At about 1,700m on Boys Glacier, with Tasman Lake in the distance
At about 1,600m the Boys Glacier gives way to steep scree. Snow covered it making the descent easier to begin with, but as the snow thinned the loose rubble became treacherous
As the Tasman Glacier slowly drew closer, so did night fall. Then it began snowing
We were benighted at about 1,050m. Visibility was very bad and rock fall quickly increased in frequency. We took refuge right on the southern edge of the scree slope at 6.30pm, resigned to a freezing bivvy. Luckily the snowing eased about 11.30pm and a full moon gave us a chance to escape the unstable scree
During the freezing night we tried to climb the western moraine of Tasman Glacier to reach Ball Shelter, but rockfall was horrendous and the lip of the moraine very steep and slippery. We were driven back to the Tasman Glacier for another 4 or so hours of shivering until daybreak. This view is up the moraine we all but climbed in the dark
And here, at dawn, is our second bivvy spot on the western side of Tasman Glacier
An early morning view down Tasman Glacier before we reached our moraine exit point before the terminal lake
A view across Tasman Glacier to the Liebig Range
About 80m above Tasman Glacier on the western moraine
Finally, safe up on the moraine lip about 130m above Tasman Glacier. Just on the far side of the lip required a 25m pitch using crampons - no photos due to the focusing nature of the terrain
A view from the Ball Shelter trail on the lip of the moraine, looking south to the terminal lake
A view from the Ball Shelter trail on the lip of the moraine, looking back north up Tasman Glacier
At 3pm, just as we reached our parked vehicle about 3kms north of Blue Lakes carpark, a helicopter appeared. A SAR team had been searching for us all day
So our next stop was the SAR office for a debrief - a fascinating process. While we hadn't needed rescuing, given the weather and terrain, we could have. We greatly appreciated the efforts that the SAR team made on our behalf
Next evening it was a happy coincidence that the local Mount Cook Village community held their annual Wild Food evening at Unwin Lodge. Warm, dry, well fed and safe - a world apart form our bivvy on the steep scree below Boys Glacier

Read about it The longest night NZAC Journal 2019

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