Thursday, February 8, 2018

Back to the Ice









While we were in New Zealand, I remember sitting on the beach, next to the lake and soaking up the sun and enjoying the southern hemisphere summer. Being a person who loves to do things in the winter, I found myself stalking the weather conditions back home and even though the sunshine and lake were beyond beautiful, I could not help myself when I counted down the days till we were able to go climb some ice.

Yellow Pine, Idaho PC-JDSTYLOS



When we got home, Joe, my family and I drove north to McCall Idaho. We took advantage of being a bit farther north and met up with our ice climbing friend George. All three of us drove the long drive even further north to Yellow Pine in search of any possible ice. We found a small 25ft curtain right off the side of the road, you could literally belay from the car if you wanted to. Even though this flow was small and not exactly super exciting, all three of us took the opportunity to practice technique, and to hop on a mixed climb just to the left of the ice.




Once back in Boise the temperatures soared. Birds chirped, the grass seemed to be turning green, even flowers were trying to pop up out of the ground. Not ideal temperatures for ice. So, after two weeks of spending time with my family in Idaho, Joe and I packed up the mobile humble abode and officially headed east.




Last year, on our way back west we drove through Bozeman and finished the 2017 ice climbing season. This season we hit Bozeman first on our way to the east coast. Both Joe and I read about unreal conditions in Hyalite. Some routes that had not been climbed in decades were being climbed, and all the ice was in. Having a very good friend in Bozeman it makes staying and climbing here so enjoyable. We drove into town and settled in, and the following day we made our way into the canyon and met up with George and his friend John.


George Leading Jeff's Right PC-JDSTYLOS


I couldn't help but smile the entire way up to the first large ice climb of 2018. Conditions were perfect, and with no else on our side of the canyon we had first pick of all the climbs. We settled on a nice WI3 called Jeffs Right to start on. This route was fairly deceiving, the hardest part wasn't necessarily the steepness, but the length required far more endurance than anyone expected. After George lead that and set up a top rope, he brought up John and he set up a rope on a flow just right of the first climb. All four us us took laps on Jeff’s Right and on Magically Delicious (a short WI4 with a cool mixed climb to the left of the ice).By the time we headed out for the day all of us were pretty spent.


Magically Delicious PC-JDSTYLOS


The following day, both Joe and I were feeling quite ambitious and drove up to Hyalite with quite the pep in our step. Since both of us are still perfecting technique and are just getting ready to start leading we headed towards a climb we knew we could top rope on our own. We arrived to Genesis I and no one was there. So of course, we picked what we thought would be the most fun line. As Joe went and set up a rope, more and more people started to shuffle in. By the time we finally started climbing, there was no space on the ice for anyone to set up another rope. As I put my tools into the ice my hands and arms burned in exhaustion. My enthusiasm covered up the fact the my whole body was feeling quite fatigued. So after a couple routes on the 80ft WI4+, we chose to call it a day and head back to the house.

When we were not climbing, we took the chance to spend an evening at the Bozeman Hot Springs with friends before heading to the local burger bar for dinner. I also got the chance to see and ride a horse I used to take care of while working at Aspen.




After receiving a message on FB from an ice climbing friend that had seen that we were in Bozeman, we decided to meet up with him and go climbing after a rest day. I met Matt Ward the first day I went ice climbing, and climbed with him one more time that season and haven't seen him since. I've stayed in touch the last couple of years, and watched his climbing excel. So when the chance came up for him to not only be our rope gun, guide, and teacher for a day, we jumped for the opportunity.


Matt Leading Scepter PC-JDSTYLOS


We started our day out with a hike up to Sceptor, a 100ft WI5 and one of the most classic climbs in all of Hyalite. With snow dumping out of the sky, when we walked up to the climb and my heart might have skipped a beat. This massive, vertical, waterfall of ice was framed by some of the most beautiful wilderness one could ever imagine. Matt geared up and lead the whole thing in style. Not only did he make it look easy but he made it look wicked fun. So when it was my turn to climb I tied my knot and was quickly ready to get climbing. The first part of the climb was hard ice, almost mushroomed in appearance. It quickly got straight vertical, and that's when you could feel all that technique practice come into play. By the time I got back down to the ground I was beaming. Joe climbed it next with just as much enthusiasm and with solid technique. We both were enthralled with what we were going to climb next.


Scepter PC-JDSTYLOS


We hiked and wallowed through deep snow to get to our next climb. A large cave was just under the ice and I stood in there and belayed Matt while we he climbed to the top. I couldn't see Matt but I could see all of the spindrift coming from the slopes above. Even though this climb was only rated a WI4, it was tricky! The ice narrowed near the top and your body wanted to barn door off from one side to the next.


Matt Leading The Matrix PC-JDSTYLOS


With time ticking away we didn't have much daylight left for too much more so we ventured down and got the chance to climb a difficult M5. Neither Joe or I had done any sort of mixed climbing until we were in Yellow Pine with George. So after Matt lead the route (White Zombie), and set up a top rope he coached us through some techniques and other ways to get through the hard sections. Both Joe and I rock climb and ice climb but who knew combining the two would be so exciting! I’ve always hesitated to put my tools on rock. With the idea of scraping very sharp tools and ultimately the rock making them very dull has never been appealing. But after these last two experiences mixed climbing, I wouldn't be surprised if we find ourselves doing it more and more.

White Zombie PC-JDSTYLOS



We said our goodbye to Matt and couldn't be more thankful for his time, and patience with us. Having him climb with us made for a fun experience and we got to hop on routes we would of otherwise never gotten the chance to climb.




A couple of days passed and we went for one last adventure to Hyalite and hiked up to Palisade falls. After not feeling to confident about the quality of the ice near the top of the climb we decided to not climb and instead we went for a hike before headed back to the car.

Start of The Matrix PC-JDSTYLOS



We’ve started packing up all of our gear, loading it into the car and with that we are getting ready to say goodbye to Hyalite Canyon and Bozeman! It’s always amazing how fast time can fly. We are heading east tomorrow towards Munising, Michigan for the Ice Fest for the second year in a row.




Huge thanks to the Maxwell crew for letting us crash at their home, and George, Matt and John for showing us a killer time in Hyalite Canyon. What a world class place to get the chance to climb!

Palisade Falls PC-JDSTYLOS

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The "Best of List" New Zealand 2017/18



Joe and I arrived back to the states about two weeks ago and have spent time with family,
skiing, ice climbing, snowmobiling, hiking and getting back into the swing of things! But before
we get to far into our most recent adventures it's time to wrap up the New Zealand trip with the
Best of List!!!






Kia PC- JDSTYLOS


About a year and a month ago I wrote the “Best of List” for our US road trip. So it's only fitting
that after this last big adventure we do the same. Even though there are so many similarities
between the US and NZ, there a definitely quite a few great things that jumped out at us that
should be mentioned and are mentioned below!






Fox Glacier PC-JDSTYLOS




Best Car Food:


1.Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Chili Bean, Red Pepper and Avocado Quesadillas. -These were such a
treat and were best when we used the local free BBQ's!


2.Hamburgers on Thanksgiving -After hiking the Kepler Track we met up with some friends that we had met on the track and we all enjoyed a friendsgiving together with some very american burgers,
and it was SO good!


3.Peckish Crackers with Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Apple. These rice crackers we almost always a
constant on the trip, the BBQ, and sour cream and chives were by far the best flavors!






Thanksgiving Dinner PC-JDSTYLOS


Best Car Camping Spot:
1. Greyneys Camping Ground- $0NZD Arthurs Pass Latitude: -42.98418742, Longitude:171.58732714 : Not only was this one of the few free camp spots around NZ but it had a great shelter with a fire place and was perfect for socializing with other travelers.



2. Lake Poaka Amenity Area- $0NZD Near Mt. Cook -44.206297, 170.096785 : You cant actually find this camspot on the DOC website, but you can find it on most free camping apps. Like most places it does have some sandflies but being right by the water and with a view of Mt. Cook its hard to beat!



3. Gillespies Beach Camping Ground- $4NZD-$8NZD Near Fox Glacier Latitude: -43.40805133, Longitude: 169.82862366 : Even though for the most part we mostly avoided camp spots where we had to pay, this one was good enough we stayed there for a few nights. Lots of other travelers and right next to the ocean!










Christmas Eve PC- JDSTYLOS


Best Hike:


1. Avalanche Peak- Crow River Route - 2,841ft of elevation gain. This ended up being an overnight,
and not only was this hike filled with beautiful views and even though it was a full day but nothing was to challenging. The hike to Avalanche Peak is very popular, but the rest of the hike across the ridge and down the scree field to the hut was really different from anything we had done on the trip.



2. Liverpool Track - 2,913ft of elevation gain. This hike was wicked long. It took us about 7 1/2 hours, and was flat for about 3/4 of the way and the last 1/4 was extremely steep. We were hand and feet climbing up roots until we broke through the treeline to the most beautiful views of Mt.Barff and
Mt. Aspiring. We stayed at the Liverpool hut that night.



3. Mt Barff via the South East Ridge - This technically wasn't a hike but it was our only mountaineering climb of the entire trip. What was supposed to be a straight forward climb and was quickly turned into quite the whiteout and we were forced to turn around about 1/2 way up!






PC-JDSTYLOS

Best Hut:

1.Camp Stream Hut (E1410867, N5148335) Recommended donation but not required of $10NZD : This hut was the last of the trip and was quite the pleasant surprise. This hut is not ran by the DOC and was the oldest one we visited. It was quiet and filled with character.


2.Mt. Brown Hut (E1453002, N5252141) Donation Recommended but not required : We spent Christmas day at this hut and stayed the night while a storm raged outside. It was beyond wonderful. High above the treeline, we had beautiful views the following morning and watched little Wecka birds run around.


3.Liverpool Hut (E1254993, N5071096) 18+ years old $15NZD : This was our base spot for our climb of Mt.Barff. With views of the Southern Alps, Aspiring herself and Mt.Barff. Having this hut was magical and a great place to hangout after our climb attempt.










Camp Stream Hut PC-JDSTYLOS



Best Town:


1. Wanaka, New Zealand : We spent the most time here of all the cities in NZ. With free wifi on the
lake, hiking just outside of town, a great base for all Aspiring climbs, and just a very traveler friendly
town! Highly recommended


2. Hokitika, New Zealand : We also spent a lot of time here waiting out weather and going from place
to place. Plus they had the best wifi in the whole country and we could sit in the car outside of the
library to use it.. win!


3. Twizel, New Zealand : This is where we spent time just outside of Mt.Cook national park while I
was sick. A cute little town with some good amenities.






Hidey and Myself PC-JDSTYLOS





Overall Favorite Part of the Trip:


Katie: The fact you can get world class mountains, crystal clear lakes, the ocean, rolling hills,
dense jungle, versions of desert, glaciers and almost all other landscapes in a very small place.
Pictures cant do this place justice, it's just as beautiful if not MORE beautiful than what people tell
you!






Mt Cook PC-JDSTYLOS



Joe: There is a few things that New Zealand has that the US doesn't that definitely should be
mentioned on the favorite list. Not only does New Zealand offer an unreal Backcountry Hut system
with over 950 huts to choose from but the fact that we were able to come to the country, choose and
purchase a car in less than 12 hours and get it registered for $8NZD. Plus, the free electric park
BBQ’s that are located throughout the country make car living that much better.






Camp Stream Hut PC-JDSTYLOS



Even though the climbing part of our trip didn't go exactly to plan, so many other parts of the trip
really blew us out of the water.

Now that we are back in the states the adventuring continues! After two weeks here in Idaho we
are packing up all of our gear and are headed to Bozeman, Montana then onto Munising, Michigan
and will eventually get to our final destination in New England, all while we ice climbing along the way!


Cheers!






Lake Wanaka PC-JDSTYLOS


Monday, January 15, 2018

Saying Goodbye to New Zealand



In the past two years of dating Joe, we have yet to spend a Christmas together. We have always managed to spend so much of our time together before, with either traveling or Climbing but right when Christmas Day was upon us, we would go home to our families and see each other soon after. 

PC- JDStylos Our first Christmas together


We had found ourselves in the small coastal town of Hokitika when Christmas Eve was upon us. We explored around, and found ourselves eating breakfast on the rocks that overlooked the Blue Gorge and soon parked the car by Kaniere Lake for the rest of the day. We laughed and talked about what are families would be doing on Christmas Eve (even though it was actually still the 23rd back home). A can of chili beans was heated up in the Jet Boil, and placed into tortillas with red peppers, onions and sharp cheddar cheese to make our Christmas Eve wraps. We watched the sunset over a beautiful quiet lake while I skipped rocks and we ate a package of mint cookies, the most perfect first Christmas Eve together.

PC- JDStylos More importantly, burritos


In hopes that the crowds would all be home for the holiday, and with a little bit of research on Christmas Day we decided to hike up to a small Alpine hut called Mt.Brown Hut. With a later afternoon start, and some distant dark clouds overhead we started up the trail. Spider webs grabbed my face and legs, making it apparent no one had been up there anytime recently. The trail went up and up and up, until the large Beechwood forest was behind us and the alpine tussocks swiped our legs as we finally saw the hut. After 3,100ft of elevation gain the sight of the Hut was so wonderful. Just as we stepped inside the wind outside wrapped around the little 4 bunk hut, and the rain convinced us to stay inside. 

PC- JDStylos Mt. Brown hut 


We changed out of our sweaty clothes into warm dry layers, with thoughts of my family at home cooking Christmas Eve dinner, eating pie and telling stories around the table... it was hard not to feel a bit homesick. The feeling was short lived though, as we laughed, ate food, read stories and enjoyed this small little alpine hut. Even if it felt a million miles away from home, we went to bed content. 

PC- JDStylos


The morning sun warmed the hut and we awoke to the sound of the metal stretching in the change of temperature. We stepped outside to watch the local ground dwelling birds, called Weckas run around and greet a beautiful day. After some brief exploring, we said our goodbyes to the small orange hut and headed down a wet and muddy trail back to the car. 

PC- JDStylos


With such a successful trip up to Mt Brown Hut we quickly started to research more huts in the area. We knew we wanted to go to Arthur’s Pass at some point, so with good weather in the upcoming forecast we drove West to find our next adventure. 

PC- JDStylos The Devils Punchbowl


We explored a bit of the town and after talking to some fellow hikers that were headed over to Crow hut and talking to the DOC about the hike- we decided to go there the next day.

We set up the car near the town at a free Camp spot with a large stone three wall shelter with a fire place. The night went on to attract plenty of other hikers and travelers, and after talking we soon learned we would all be climbing the same mountain tomorrow. Joe and I would be the only ones to be carrying over to the hut in the valley on the other side. We laughed and enjoyed the camaraderie that the Camp site brought.

PC- JDStylos 


The next morning we arrived at the DOC to purchase our hut passes, only to be informed two other groups were ahead of us and one more walked in right behind us, all headed to Crow Hut... if we wanted a bunk we better get on our way. 

PC- JDStylos Summit of Avalanche, Rolleston behind me


The track that lead to the top of Mt Avalanche was steep, but we intentionally made our packs as light as possible and as a result we flew up the mountain. We passed day hikers, and I started to feel like all this hiking was paying off!! We arrived at the top of the peak and were greeted by plenty of other hikers. Most importantly our whole group from the night before was enjoying the summit, what a fun coincidence that was. 

PC-- JDStylos


Mt. Avalanche is one of the most popular hikes in the park, so when we headed the opposite direction from everyone else we were happy to have the solitude. Though it did not last long. As we dropped down the opposite ridge, fellow hikers all headed to Crow Hut, hiked along with us. 

PC- JDStylos, these mountains felt very similar to the Sawtooths back home


Light grey clouds kept the sun from baking us alive as we walked on the exposed ridge. Mt Rolleston filled the horizon with sheer rock ridges and glaciers filling the stream beds below with cold melt water. 

We all arrived to the skree field that lead to the valley below at the same time. We agreed to leave plenty of space between us, as to make sure not to dislodge a head smashing rock on the person in front of us.

PC-- JDStylos This skree field took more than an hour to descend


The six of us carefully spaced out, stepped, slipped, slided and plodded down the never ending rock field. Deep small pebbles made for secure footing but when the pebbles turned to shallow sand you were quickly reminded of how steep of a grade you were on as gravity tried to rip your feet out from under you. 

By the time we made it to the valley floor we were excited to be on stable ground again. The hut was not far off and walking through the door with plenty of bunks to choose from felt like victory. 

PC-- JDStylos Crow Hut


The hut never filled up, but a few late day hikers arrived to finish off the day with a good group of hut dwellers. 

The next day was a long plod through the valley. After a few river crossings, one minor slip into one and some very wet shoes we stood on the side of the road, with our thumbs out and smiling as we gave the universal sign for “we need a ride”!

After finding our way back to the car, and settling in at the Camp ground, we looked at the weather for the upcoming week.

Rain... and rain... oh and more rain.

PC- JDStylos... Our only photo of Mt. Aspiring, our original main objective of the trip. Very accurate photo for this trip


So with Arthur’s Pass about to pummeled by quite the storm we headed back to the West Coast in hopes to find something to do while we waited. 

Not the best plan, as all it did was rain there too. So after much frustration, we decided to drive back to our favorite town in NZ called Wanaka. 

PC. JDStylos


The next few days were filled with some beautiful sunshine. We found a good place to sleep right near some great rock climbing.  As if it weren’t enough that we had failed to bring our rock shoes, I failed to see the edge of our neighbors van door and walked my head right into it. Blood dripped down my face, but luckily enough Joe and the other neighbor came to the rescue with a fix it kit. 

PC. JDStylos I got ice cream after this photo 


With my new battle scar we decided to take the next day and make it an easy one. We opted for a brief 30min run around the lake shore, and just as we were about a minute from the car, a root FLEW out of the ground, grabbed my ankle and yanked me to where it came from. I walked the rest of the way back to the car only to reveal a nice bloody knee to match my head. Luckily the closely parked mothers were quick to bring bandaids and betadine to clean up the mess. 

With all this trouble, we still loved Wanaka. We managed to stay about four days with only minor problems here and there. But rather than stay and make anymore trouble we went into town to do some research on where to go next. 

PC-- JDStylos... Can you tell I've never chopped wood?


We tend to be on a bit of a back track, as that evening we found ourselves looking at Mt Cook while trying to get WiFi in Twizel. We stayed at one of our favorite campsites and watched The movie Groundhog Day. 

The next morning we drove into the town of Tekapu to fill up water before driving down to our next little hut objective. After getting slightly lost we eventually found our way to the trailhead. 

We hiked through flowers covered in busy bumblebees and hiked through fields of golden grass. Though beautiful, the hike had no sense of scale and the ascent of the little saddle seemed endless. The sun baked us as we hiked and once the clouds gave us some reprieve, we ate some snacks and immediately started to feel a little more enthusiastic. 

PC-- JDStylos, our last hut of the trip, Camp Stream Hut


We rounded the corner, and the valley took shape with The Camp Stream Hut just coming into view. The wood pile was stacked high, and every metal barrel was stressed at the seems with wood. The rustic walls had seen many of people as the door said “1898”. This little hut was filled with the most character we had seen. 100 years of smell from fires, cooking, shepherds, and hikers alike filled your nose. The concrete foundation was worn with the foot traffic over the years, and treasures left behind lined the walls. 

We read, listened to stories, played games and explored until enjoying our Spaghetti dinner than was originally planned for one of our summit day climbs. Oh man did that taste good!!

PC-- JDStylos, the hut always matched the landscape so well in every light


We awoke early in the morning to what sounded like rain pattering the hut only to realize that the slight change in the temperature caused the huts walls to awaken and greet the new day.

PC-- JDStylos


It was hard to say goodbye to the small hut and all the character it had to offer, as there is a chance it might be our last of the trip. We arrived back at the car late that morning and drove into town to fill waters, grab some groceries, fill the gas tank and start the drive towards Christchurch. 

PC-- JDStylos, reading past hikers that used the hut


We've settled in well here at the hostel in Christchurch. We enjoyed a real bed, shower, and washer for the first time in over two months. It's felt like luxury. It's been a bit tricking to get the car sold but we're working on it!! With about two days to go before we fly out, we're trying to relax and enjoy the city before we are engulfed with travel and jet lag! 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Half Way Through New Zealand

New Zealand

I envisioned New Zealand to be this epically magical place, where we would hike, be completely enamored by unworldly beauty and most importantly climb big southern mountains.

The Wanaka Tree PC-JDSTYLOS


Truly, New Zealand has been something of unworldly beauty, just minus the climbing part. I’ve managed to not write any recent blogs because we just haven’t been able to get any Climbing in.

Hike to Brewster Hut PC-JDSTYLOS


After Barff, we set our eyes on a route on Mt.Brewster. With weather moving in fast, we were quick to head to the mountain, but in the process didn’t give ourselves enough time to recover from our physical efforts on Mt Barff. We hiked to Brewster Hut at the base of the climb and were taken aback with how tired we felt. So rather than push ourselves to the point of exhaustion we opted to enjoy a beautiful blue bird day at the hut instead of going for the summit.

Brewster hidden in the clouds PC-JDSTYLOS


When we arrived back to town we decided to spend a few days resting and took a couple of days to hike to a “local” hut. Meg Hut is only a couple/few hour east hike from the road. We arrived to an adorable quaint shepherds hut only to be surprised to see 7 middle aged guys were spending there weekend away from the family there. They thoughtfully gave us the last bunk and offered one of their’s. What turned out to be not exactly what we had thought it was going to be still turned out to be a good night.

Meg Hut PC
-JDSTYLOS


We stayed in Wanaka in hopes to find something else to climb. When that didn’t happen we decided to head North towards Mt.Cook. We took in the eye widening beauty that is Mt.Cook. I’ve never seen such a massive mountain range. We smiled in excitement and pointed out Tasman, Dixon, Cook and her three peaks as they towered above anything nearby. 

Along with Mt Aspiring, Mt Dixon was on our list of climbs while we were here. After talking to plenty of people and with such warm weather we had assumed that the climb to Dixon and Plateau Hut (base Camp) were out. 

Mt Cook PCJDSTYLOS


When we arrived to the Mt.Cook visitor center, we initially had planned to ask about some good hikes with beautiful Mountain View’s. After finding and talking to the Climbing rangers our faith was restored in our attempt to climb to Mt. Dixon. We had a short weather window, and cold temperatures that were sure to secure the quality of the snow. With about 95% of climbers flying into Plateau Hut, we were excited to be climbing in. With this probably being the last chance of the year to head up, we left the DOC Center with a jump in our step and a plan in our minds. 

After we had packed our food bags, and prepped everything for the following day departure, that night we climbed into bed with big intentions for the following days. 

Cards at Brewster Hut PC-Jdstylos


Before I even realized what was happening I quickly started to get cold, sweaty and a fever. We put the climb off for a day and got some rest but soon after our plans for our climb quickly fell down the drain as for the next 4 days I was laid up in bed. I eventually went to the doctor for a prescription to kick my infection.

After so much time lost, the weather warmed up and we threw in the towel and left the Cook area to go on and find new things to do. With almost all the climbs melted out we’ve tried to switch our mindset to get some good hiking in with the time we have left.

We have moseyed our way to the west coast, and between fighting off sandflies and rainy days we found a sunny afternoon to check out the tourist filled Fox Glacier. 

Dinner time PC-JDSTYLOS


After having seen so many glaciers, both Joe and I were fairly unimpressed with the tourist viewpoint of the glacier. With so much receding in recent years, you can barely see any of the glacier anymore. We started to walk down as I watched a guided group step over the twine fence and near a sign that said “guided groups only passed this point”. Even so, my curiosity got the best of me and I started asking questions to the guide.

She quickly reassured me that if you have any sort of Climbing knowledge that we should definitely go check out the glacier. That the sign there doesn’t mean you can’t get up there, mostly just to deter people from doing so. She mentioned the ice climbing possibilities up high and pointed out the gulley to the right that gives access to the glacier above. 


Mt Cook PC JDSTYLOS


I took my new found knowledge and tried to suppress my excitement as I ran the idea passed Joe. We decided that tomorrow morning we’d see if we could get up there and find some climbable ice. 

The next morning the clouds loomed above us as we trekked out towards our objective. It was a short work to get to the toe of the glacier. Originally we thought we might have a wicked river crossing to do but after further inspection we decided to gain the glacier true left and traverse across the ice until we met the gulley. We carefully crossed the ice, with stones and gravel melted and frozen into the water ice surface, the travel was overall smooth and uneventful. We made it to the base of the Gulley when suddenly, just like in NZ fashion, it started to rain. The guide from yesterday warned us about one thing, and that was to be no where near that rock Gulley during the rain. So we promptly turned around after an hour and a half of Climbing. We spent the rest of the day hanging out in the car, watching the rain patter against the windshield and decided to give it one more try the next day. 
Fox Glacier PC-JDSTYLOS

Unlike the day before the sky was cloudless the following morning. With the new found knowledge of the glacier we made it to yesterday’s high point in little to no time. We started up the Gulley and both Joe and I knew this was no place to stop and rest. We scrambled up and over the loose rocks and through streams. Massive house sized boulders loomed above our heads, still sleeping. Carefully not to wake them we climbed swiftly through the rock field to where the white ice of the glacier was now in view. We climbed out of the Gulley and sat on the rocks while we changed our shoes and placed crampons on our feet in preparation for a change in the terrain. 

Guided helicopters buzzed above us as they went in for landings onto the glacier. Most of the time when you are on a glacier you feel completely alone in the world. With guide companies bringing clients onto the “accessible only by helicopter” glacier all hours of the day, you feel a bit more like you’re in the city than on a living, breathing, crevassed glacier. 

Helicopter PC-JDSTYLOS


We stayed clear of the helicopters, and made detours around their landing pads. We stopped and said hello to one of the guides who pointed out the best ice climbing areas. He quickly warned us of the rock fall danger near the sides of the glacier but seemed happy to give us any information we were looking for. 

We thanked him, and went on our way. Unlike most glaciers I’ve been on the crevasses on the Fox Glacier are mostly filled in. So for the most part glacier travel was relatively easy. We saw the ice climbing locations not to far in the distance. Guided groups climbed away on massive semi vertical sheets of ice. We jumped across small crystal blue creeks that ran across the top of the ice and stepped methodically across the spines of ice walls. Late season conditions made the ice form into magnificent sculptures and shapes of all kinds. 

After four and a half hours of hiking, Joe and I decided that even though we hadn’t technically ice climbed anything we were both ecstatic with just getting to climb and play along the glacier. Without the luxury of a 5min helicopter ride back to town we decided that it was probably a good idea to start heading down. 

We made quick work of the glacier travel and arrived back to the rocks where we changed our shoes. Before we knew it we were quickly scrambling back down the Gulley. We didn’t dare to look up, only ahead at what move was next. By the time we climbed up and back out of the way of the rock fall danger we both agreed that we were glad to have the Gulley behind us. 

We made it back to the car by mid afternoon only to watch dark grey clouds roll into the glacier valley. We were glad to have left when we did. Both of us felt happy and physically felt great. It was so wonderful to feel like we achieved one of our goals.

Rock throwing competition PC-JDSTYLOS


With some success we smiled and said goodbye to Fox Glacier and kept making our way North. With rain pouring out of the sky we tried to enjoy some smaller towns along the way. 

So, with all of this warm weather we’ve set our Climbing goals aside for this trip and have started working our way north and looking into other fun, outdoorsy things we can find to do! We’ve started re-reading “Training for the New Alpinism” and are taking advantage of the immense playground at our finger tips to start training for next springs climbing objectives. We are both looking forward to going to some places that weren’t originally on the radar!!

PC-JDSTYLOS