Who Dare-s wins dough

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A Queenstown climber is getting a helping hand from Sport and Recreation New Zealand to attempt a world-first in Nepal. 

Ben Dare, 26, is joining up with Tekapo-based climbing guide Andrew Finnigan, 29, and Steven Fortune, 31, a researcher in medical imagery living in Edinburgh, to tackle two new technical mountaineering routes in March. 

SPARC has handed out $10,000 in the form of a Hillary Expedition Grant to help the group achieve their goals of scaling 6369 metre Kusum Kanguru and Kyajo Ri, 6186m, in the Himalayas. 

The seven-week long NZ Solu-Khumbu Alpine Style Expedition – which involves carrying all their food and equipment as they go – is Dare’s brainchild. 

The structural engineer started scaling mountains five years ago and says the Nepalese mission is a natural progression – despite having never climbed outside NZ and the highest peak he’s conquered so far is the 3497m Mount Tasman. 

“The climbing in NZ is easily as challenging technically but it doesn’t have that additional hurdle that the altitude throws in. So, to me…the progressive step is to go and try myself and see if I can handle it there.” 

Rather than summiting a peak, the real satisfaction comes from climbing a challenging line, Dare claims. 

“Getting to the summit isn’t the main focus.” 

Dare says the alpine adventure would’ve been much harder without the “invaluable” cash injection from SPARC as the group is trying “to push the boundaries a little and strive to see what we can achieve”. 

Dare: “Without that assistance we’d definitely still try to go ahead but it’d be very difficult”. 

Other Queenstowners were also on the list for SPARC grants. 

Dugald Peters had his sights set on speedflying – a combination of paragliding, skiing and base jumping – off an 8000m Tibetan mountain in a world-first but pulled out due to time and money constraints. 

And despite getting a SPARC grant, Simon Davidson says he and Matt Burton had to forego a white-water rafting mission in Papua New Guinea due to a funding shortfall.