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Harold Lowe 50 years an NZAC Member

I was with great delight that Vonnie Crawford and I called to Mr. Harold Lowe’s home in Gore to present him with his 50 year NZAC certificate.

I asked John Cocks if it would be appropriate if I delivered the certificate personally to Harold. It is not often an opportunity arises to meet a nonagenarian.
Harold is 92 years old, so I was a little unsure of what to expect. What met us was a spritely chap, a sharp mind and a great sense of humour. Trevor Woodrow of Gore also accepted our invitation to join us to celebrate this great occasion for Harold with a cuppa and one of Vonnie’s lovely cakes.

Harold has a real ‘can do’ attitude, no number 8 wire here. His home and grounds are immaculate. A place for everything and everything in its place.
While still in England Harold bought his 1948 speed twin 500 Triumph motor bike. In England this bike was for export only, so he purchased it and rode it for six months before taking it back to the factory where they packed and freighted it to Wellington for him. On Harold’s first trip to the Homer area he rode this bike. While scouting around the area he inspected the foundations of a hut ‘Aye, I wonder what they are up to here?’ It was some years later (maybe 13) that Homer Hut was completed. Coincidently Homer Hut is also 50 years young this year. A quote from another well known climber of that era. “We would only work on the hut when the weather is too miserable to go climbing”.

Harold has had many trips to Homer area and loved climbing the peaks around there. He is quite interested that people still climb the Barrier Face, as he had done many years ago. I asked him for a favourite peak, no favourite, but quite a selection to choose from. Mt. Aspiring, Mt. Bell, Mt. Christina, Mt. Cook, Mt. Erebus, Mt. Talbot and the list goes on, some peaks many times over. Although he did mention Mt. Christina a couple of times, false starts and difficult route finding.

Harold has had 3 trips to Antarctica, including a winter season. Rewarded with a Polar Medal and some great memories and photos. Most of this is recorded in his journal, which is a rather impressive document. He still has his compass along with some other significant memorabilia of his life and times displayed at his home. I asked him if he still had his ice axe, (put on your best Scottish accent) ‘No, it was no longer in original condition, as I had to cut 7 inches off it to make it useable’. Harold’s first axe was given to him by a Mt. Cook guide. ‘One of those great long things used for taking the ladies about the place’. ‘I gave it (the axe) along with my crampons and a few other bits and pieces to a young fella heading off to the American Rockies’.

Harold has been a long time member of the Hokonui tramping club along with the Alpine Club. He told us some funny stories from when he was a younger climber and a couple of jokes which would ‘make mum blush’. We asked him if there was much drinking in the mountains? His reply was “when I arrived in New Zealand at the age of 27 I was totally a teetotaller, aye but I soon picked it up”

Posted: 15/09/15

Posted By: Narina Sutherland