Archive for October, 2011

The Ethics of Claiming New Routes – A Lesson Learned

A few good people with a lot more experience than myself have pointed out that my claim of a new route on the south face of Mt Hicks is in fact a variation to Central Gullies, rather than a first ascent, mainly because Matt and I didn’t top out, i.e. complete our route to the top of the face.  I fully accept this and have changed the previous post accordingly.

I am not interested in claiming a new route on dodgy ethics or arguing what constitutes a new route, and I certainly don’t want to annoy anyone as I realise now that the South Face of Mt Hicks has a lot of history.  My motivation is purely to climb mountains by the most difficult ways possible and to get other climbers psyched on this too, hence posting my ascents on a blog (of course its for the sponsors too).  I can also be a little overzealous at times, becoming too focussed on certain things like difficult technical climbing, and forgetting about the bigger picture.  But hopefully I have learned my lesson and will remember to follow through next time.  After all, mountain climbing is about the full experience, not just the tasty bits in between.  Happy climbing.


A New Variation to Central Gullies, South Face of Mt Hicks

Friday 7 October: Matt Thom and I set off from Mt Cook Village headed for Gardiner Hut on the Hooker Glacier and hoping to climb White Dream on the south face of Mt Cook.  We realised pretty quickly that White Dream was far from being in condition and, although it meant another 4 hours walk, changed our plan to head for Empress Hut and the south face of Mt Hicks instead.

Walking up the Hooker Glacier, Mt Cook in the distance. Photo: Matt Thom.

Lucky for us, enough ice had formed on the south face of Mt Hicks to make it climbable, if only just.  In fact, the best looking line turned out to be unclimbed.  We had a plan.  Matt set to work preparing his nutella and sour cream naan bread wraps for lunch the next day.

The south face of Mt Hicks. Photo: Matt Thom

Saturday 8 October: Matt started up the first pitch just as the cloud of an approaching storm rolled into view.  By the time I was eking out what protection I could find on the third and crux pitch, the storm was upon us complete with powder avalanches every few minutes.

Jamie searching for gear on the third and crux pitch of the route. Photo: Matt Thom.

We continued climbing through the storm, which eventually lessened as forecast to, although we did sometimes wonder if it ever would.  Some pitches were pretty thin, keeping our minds off the weather.

Jamie on a thin pitch. Photo: Matt Thom.

Seven pitches later our new route joined Central Gullies and we decided to call it a day.  Looking back at our line that evening I noticed that part of it formed a distinctive Y shape in conjunction with the surrounding ice gullies.  Matt confirmed we were of Generation Y stock.  So we decided to call our variation Generation Y, and with difficulties of AI4, M5.

The line of Generation Y on the south face of Mt Hicks. Photo: Matt Thom.