Ryan’s Arrowsmith Whip

The Arrowsmith’s are the closest glaciated mountains to Christchurch and are great for a weekend smash for those who are keen.

 

 

During our approach on Saturday I hoped the fine forecast would cause Arrowsmith’s Central Couloir to shed excess snow but instead the sky alternated between broken and overcast. Therefore on the Sunday we were unsure if we could get up there safely.

 

 

After crossing the shrund a cement-like wet slide hosed the outside corner of our steepening skin track. I was then pelted in the face by a cluster of pinwheels while I failed to bat them away with a ski. The risk to reward ratio wasn’t weighing up so we skied to safer ground.

 

 

The South Cameron’s glacial corridors skied well. Above the bluffs I triggered a wet slide that was big enough to move some blocks of blue ice around! We then followed a chute to the Cameron Valley and eventually the hut.

 

 

After a quick break we repacked our bags and began the hike out. Towards the end Joel’s permanent smile was fading. We were stoked to meet the 2 bottles of IPA I had stashed back at the cars. I drove to Ashburton at granny speed to conserve gas. I was glad to get home and not miss my flight to Wellington the following day!

 

Bird in the bibs

Bird in the Bibs

In late October Don Paterson, who is the Training Manager at Hillary Outdoors, noticed the early signs of a birds nest being created in his Salopettes. Being a fan of nature, he let nature take its course and here is what he had to report…

“I first noticed the nest after working away for 3 days at the end of October. Over the following week it was added to but I never saw the bird. Thursday Nov 3rd the nest was lined with feathers and I disappeared for another 4 days. When I returned, the bird was brooding a batch of 4 eggs. She seemed only a little nervous that I had turned up. They are right next to the front door and I pretty much have to rub up against them to put my gumboots on in the morning. The nest is at head height so when standing there, the warbler looks out at me, eye to eye, less than half a metre away. She heads off for a feed every now and again and won’t return to the nest if I’m at the door, though she will perch within about of metre of me and nicely ask me to move away. There seemed to be a few of these nests being built around the staff village here at Hillary Outdoors. Another instructor had to move one out of her kayak helmet. Of course the nests are under threat from the shining cuckoo (pipiwharauroa), a brood parasite. It lays its own egg then leaves the warbler to take full responsibility, so maybe the warbler is trying a new evasive tactic. I am away all next week so maybe there will be some more happy faces to greet me when I return. I’ll keep you posted.”

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“MISTAKE IDENTITY. Now that the lady is out of the nest, and the partner is around, it is evident that she’s a tomtit (miromiro). Oops. I was misled by the grey colouring of the female rather that the stark black and white I was used to seeing. We had the chicks emerge yesterday and today the pair of them were busy foraging for tucker.”

 

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UPDATE: Don has since returned to his, and the Tomtit families, home and the bird family is alive and doing well. There are 4 healthy chicks and their parents are working overtime to keep them feed, something all parents can appreciate. They’re chirping is lively and they’re getting bolder and bolder, at times climbing onto the edge of the nest to see the new world around them!

 

We loved hearing Don’s story and just couldn’t help but share it. If you have a story you wish to share, please do not hesitiate to send it through with any imagery!

Thanks, the team at Earth Sea Sky.

Ski The Pamir

After trenching up the infinite couloir I stepped over the crevasse onto the 50-degree head wall. I cursed when I realised there was an inch of powder on glacial ice. – I had left my crampons behind. Smashing a divot into the ice, I pulled myself up, mantled off my axe, placed my toes in the hole, then carefully stood up. I was concerned I might slide down and punch through into the crevasse.

8 hours ago I awoke at 3500m, anticipating my alarm. During the night I heard footsteps in the snow, there was something trying to get at our breakfast that was secured under the fly. Was it a fox, wolf, ibex or a perhaps a snow leopard?

We started touring as the alpenglow illuminated the giants across the valley in Kyrgyzstan. We planned to climb 1700m to meet the sun at the summit of Северцева (5188m). Now, we were about to break 5000m, an elevation that marked the unknown for both of us. The climb was a battle of patience and determination versus the increasing altitude of an indifferent mountain. Elliot reached his ceiling. I kept up the fight alone.

Pulling myself onto the crimson ridge I enjoyed the light breeze wafting up the 1600m face below. Exhaustion and intense views made for a massive sensory overload. There was nowhere to hide and I couldn’t down-climb. I paused to ponder at what was definitely fresh animal tracks leading towards the east ridge.

Dropping my heels, I smeared my ski boots over the rock, climbing short friction slabs and moving over open space. I felt like I was dreaming as I precariously traversed over bluffs to the summit ridge. I sat down and took some photos, my heart rate dropped and my headache faded away, leaving me with a deep sense of satisfaction.. Followed by the realisation that I had earned myself an incredible ski descent! 2000m lower I skied into a grassy meadow. The creek bubbled quietly and the birds were talking about us. After the harsh mountain environment the soft earth and warm breeze was welcome.

Trail runners were donned and packs shouldered. The golden hour cast dancing shadows from thousands of tiny flowers.

We crossed paths with a local driving cattle from horseback. He appeared around our age, black leather jacket and no doubt had a hearty chunk of ‘Nasvar’ under his wide grin. He invited us to stay in his dom but we respectfully declined. I was determined to make it back to our dom, further upriver, for the mighty feast I had spent hours planning to the finest detail. We slept well.