Mount Cook climbing preparations

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of May 1-7, 1997
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Mount Cook climbing preparations
Question: I'll be cycling with my boyfriend for six weeks in November-December this year. We would also like to hike/climb Mount Cook. Can you tell me anything about routes, difficulty level, or duration? Also, rather than carry excess gear on the bikes, can we get the equipment we need there? Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.

Cathryn Breen
Bad Aibling, Germany
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: At 12,280 feet, Mount Cook isn't the highest of peaks, but its fast-moving glaciers and razor-sharp ridges make it one to take very seriously. Whether expert climbers or novices, you'll want to check in with Alpine Guides (64-3-4351-834) based in Mount Cook Village. You may not be interested in taking a whole course with them, but they can give you sound advice in planning your climb.

Though you can rent/buy anything you need, a reliable source tells me that you should bring your own equipment because you may feel you've been robbed when they start ringing up carabiners at the cash register. But, don't heed my words, call Alpine Guides for an equipment rental reality check.

As far as specific routes are concerned, the Department of Survey and Lands publishes comprehensive topographical maps that are sold in major bookstores. For general mountaineering information, write to the Secretary, New Zealand Alpine Club, P.O. Box 41-038, Eastbourne, Wellington.

If you are interested in taking an Alpine Guides course, the 42-year-old company leads climbing schools November through March. Depending on the course, costs generally include aircraft access to the mountains, food throughout the course, accommodations, and technical equipment. The most basic of the classes is a seven-day course for people who have no climbing experience. Instruction includes snow, rock, and ice climbing, as well as navigation, rescue techniques and first aid. The course is held in a mountain hut at the head of the Mueller or Tasman Glacier.

If you consider yourselves expert mountaineers, take a look at Alpine Guide's technical mountaineering course. A high level of physical fitness, as well as experience in rock and snow climbing, is a must.

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