15. January 2001 10:59
by Rene Pallesen

Mt Cook ( 15 ~ 28 January 2001 )

15. January 2001 10:59 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

mt cook 15 28 january 2001
Above the clouds at Mt Cook - photo competition winner!Mt Cook ( 15 ~ 28 January 2001 )

I decided to do a Technical Ice-Climbing course with Alpine Guides in New Zealand.

I spent 10 days at Mt Cook doing a very challenging course, but I learnt a lot. I learnt all the techniques required to do ice-climbing safely. I also learnt the necessities of surviving in the icy mountains.

Prior to the trip, a lot of preparation was required. Everyday, I went jogging to build up my fitness, so by the time I left for New Zealand, I could run 3km on the sand without getting puffed. I also had to buy some of the equipment. I had to buy cramp-ons (looks like spiked metal soles) to attach to my boots; ice-axe and ice-hammer; a new Gore-tex jacket (I needed a new one anyway) and some other clothing and equipment.

The photo on the right became a 3rd-place winner in a photo competition.

Mt Cook

Our group consisted of 4 other doing the course. There were no prerequisites, other than a love for the mountains and a very high fitness level. Not all of us who do this course go on to climb the great mountains. We also discovered it takes guts and courage to stand on top of the world and feel confident. One cannot be an ice-climber if there is a fear of heights or if unsteady on the feet.

Our ice-climbing group

All of us in the group had come from different backgrounds. Søren was an experienced climber, who had aspirations of going to the Himalayas. Alan was a rock-climber who wanted to try the challenge of ice-climbing. Rob too loved the mountains and wanted the experience and challenge of being on the icey slopes of New Zealand. I had had quite a lot of climbing and mountaineering experience, but this was my first time ice-climbing.

The person holding the camera is Søren. I met him in NZ, whilst waiting for the bus for Mt Cook. To my surprise, he was a Dane living here in Sydney. He was a professional photographer (hence you see him holding the Nikon). He and I had similiar experience so our speed through the course was pretty much the same.


I actually ended up cracking a rib whilst on the course. I did this during a 'self-arrest' technique, where we actually throw ourselves down a steep slope and try to use our ice-axe to stop ourselves from falling any further. This technique is used in case you fall down a crevass and have nothing to hold onto.

Rob was the other person doing the course. He once dropped his ice-axe and one of us had to abseil down to collect it, as an ice-axe is a piece of equipment that is vital and you only carry one of these each.

We worked in pairs, but had to swap partners as our guide took turns working with each of us.
Søren doing a climbAlan doing a climb
Alan doing a climb

Ice-climbing is nothing like rock-climbing. You cannot use your fingers (well, they will freeze if you take your gloves off), so you really on equipment like ice-axe and ice-picks to anchor yourself into the ice. These pieces of equipment are really important, especially if you are sleeping on a ledge or stopping for a rest. Other than someone belaying you, using ice-picks to secure yourself into the ice is the backup should your belay fail.

We each took turns at ice-climbing! Alan is the one in the blue jacket, Søren is the one in the red.

I guess Søren has more photos of me climbing, whereas I can't take photos of myself!

In the following section, you will see a series of photos of Mt Cook.
If you want to have a look at the black & white version of this (quite artistic), click here.

Photo 1 of Mt CookPhoto 2 of Mt CookPhoto 3 of Mt Cook
Photo 4 of Mt CookPhoto 5 of Mt Cook

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