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Trip Report – Remarkable Grand Traverse

By: Sam Ruddenklau

Source: Southland Section Newsletter (Dec 2017)

The GT was on my list of climbs to do, so when Erin messaged me to see if I was keen I jumped at the chance and also invited my new climbing partner, Ash, along for the trip.

The day didn’t start that well for me, sleeping in after not saving my wake up alarm on my phone… As we were to discover, this wasn’t the last timing related issue that we would experience for the day! We arrived at the Remarkables base building to what was a stunning day, sunny, warm and no wind. A stark contrast to the previous two climbing trips I had been on in this area. As we gained the ridge that leads up to the Telecom Tower Erin made a bold statement on how fast we were going to get the GT done, something about being home for lunch if I remember correctly!

It was going pretty well and we were making good time on the generally snow free rock along the ridge and up past the helipad. From here though, our progress slowed dramatically with plenty of soft warm snow making it slow going up over the 2 peaks that make up Double Cone. Ash proved his worth here, leading a couple of good mixed pitches and finding a way to the 1st of the double cones. Andrew lead the way down off the cones, setting up several raps to make it easier (and safer) in the snow conditions we had.

After digging a snow ledge past a big rock and setting up an anchor, Andrew belayed Ash for one last pitch, heading towards some telltale tat hanging from a rock. I think it’s fair to say that we were all relieved when Ash called down saying that he could see the pole on top of Single Cone 10 metres above him! We finally topped out on Single Cone, just in time for lunch, at 5:30pm! It was an awesome spot for a well deserved break though, with stunning views and not a breath of wind.

Two more raps and plenty of snow plugging later we made it to Wye Saddle and back onto rock for the walk back to the carpark a bit after 8pm, only 11 hours after we left… The beers and Pizza at the Franklin Arms Tavern were certainly earned and tasted pretty good!

The GT is billed to be one of the best single day alpine climbs in NZ, it certainly lived up to this for me, with a great mix of climbing, some “interesting” moments and awesome views for most of the climb. Even if it did take twice as long as what the guidebook said! I’m keen to get back there for another crack at it, but maybe in full summer conditions, or maybe mid winter?…

Trip Members: Andrew McFadzien, Erin Noonan, Ash Kirk and Sam Ruddenklau

Posted: 22/03/18

Posted By: Narina Sutherland