Climbers conquer new Aspiring route


Mt Aspiring’s northwest face has been conquered for the first time by three Queenstown climbers.

It took Ben Dare, Danny Murphy and Steve Skelton just over six hours to scale the almost vertical 550m rock face on Saturday.

Dare told the Otago Daily Times climbing the face of the 3033m mountain has been much talked about in the climbing community over the years but no-one had managed it previously.

Dare says an attempt was made in 1982 “and apart from that, I think we were only the second party to get on to it”.

Their way to the face was made easier by good conditions on the Therma glacier, which is often very broken.

“We were fortunate it was in very good shape.”

As well, the quality of the face’s schist rock turned out to be “much better than we expected”.

Dare, a Queenstown structural engineer, explains how he approached a climb.

“You look at potential lines of weakness and where the best line will go that will lead all the way to the top, and then you just try to follow that as you go up – changing, as need be, as conditions and terrain dictate.”

Dare says the trio climbed on rock until they encountered snow about 20m or 30m short of the summit.

They left no climbing equipment or aids on the face.

It’s his strong belief – and that of a lot of his climbing partners – “that we try to make as little impact as possible, so no fixed gear or anything of that nature”.

Dare says the face was very big and there was scope for other climbers to explore different routes.

“I think by no means will the fact that we’ve climbed it once deter people.

“I’m hoping … it will encourage others to either go and repeat our climb or look for something new on it, as well.”

Dare says he has a long list of climbs on his to do list and is likely to spend much of the rest of the summer in the Darren Mountains in Fiordland.

Last year, Dare was awarded a Royal Humane Society medal for bravery after saving the life of injured climbing partner, Scott Blackford-Scheele, during their attempt to climb Anidesha Chuli, in Nepal, in April 2013.

Otago Daily Times