By Terra Dumont, 30 September 2009
A relaxing day out
Summit Luncheon via Girdlestone and Tahurangi
So after going to bed at 1.30 am Saturday Miles and I got up at 6 to do “Wake Up Call” on the south east face of Girdlestone (AI3 - Graham did the first ascent last year). When we got our first peak at it, it looked really thin. We decided to go have a closer look but the slope to get to it was that horrible foot of slush on ice and about 5 avalanches had already gone off. After going about 5m across it Miles and I decided it was just going to end badly especially since we where probably going to get there and realise it was unclimbable, so went back and headed up the South West ridge (Grade 2). It was just steep snow, a bit of front pointing, so we soloed it. As we got onto the ridge the fog came in. We thought we where about 2/3rds of the way up when we suddenly walked onto the summit.
After a quick morning tea on the summit we traversed to Tahurangi, which was pretty sweet, also soloed the whole thing, again just steep snow front pointing. We found an awesome bit of thick rimed ice to climb, so went up that just for the hell of it because we where both feeling deprived of technical climbing. It was a nice ~25m pitch of really feature ice - was awesome as it involved mantling and chimmneying :) I then made the world’s most awesome snow bollard (which really excited Miles as he had never abseiled off one). I had fun on the way down as the rope got caught around a chunk of ice, so I hacked a piece off and a chunk bigger than me broke off. Form then on we kept along the ridge, which would have been slightly more straight forward feeling if we could see anything, but it was pretty much impossible to get lost. As we neared the summit we made bets on weather the others had made it up to the Platue for the summit luncheon. Came to the conclusion they probably had, but had left due to the deteriorating weather. Miraculously the fog cleared as we summated Tahurangi, and we saw them as a swarm of little ants in the distance. We decided to head along the ridge to the West meet them as we figured that would be the easiest way. That was the wrong way... we should have dropped down to the lake and slogged through the snow. Our 'easy' option of following the ridge involved 2 more hours of front point traversing and down climbing rime ice outcroppings. By that time we where really over it!! But we at last reached the col and hid behind a rock before the others saw us to get changed, Miles into his suit and me into an Asian nighty. We left all our gear and strolled over in style, to find out they where packing up to leave! We did get some left over roast chicken tho :)
So didn't get in a long technical route as we had hoped, but did have lots of fun and was good to work just being comfortable soloing grade 2. A great quote from Miles as we where happily chatting away traversing a steep section in the fog was "this isn't what most people would call a relaxing day out", though we did! :)