Late on the final evening of a successful Remarkables Ice and Mixed Festival, luckily not overly hampered by the re-emergence of COVID in Auckland, Sooji Clarkson asked me if I was keen to tackle the SW ridge of Aspiring. This happened to be a long term goal, but also one I wasn't sure I was yet capable of. Regardless, off we set with Sam Stephenson and my brand new bright blue climbing tools.
Despite is being the middle of winter, 16th-18th of August, it had been a very popular climb as conditions were ideal with lovely consolidated ice and snow and minimal avalanche danger. We also struck a perfect windless day and thus did not do nearly enough suffering for our mountain, but instead had one of the best days out of a mountain that you could possibly have!
After tea on the summit, we opted to downclimb the same route, which required just one abseil down the crux pitch and then we were away. Avoiding both the ramp and the extra climbing it would entail on the Bonar glacier at the end of the descent. Sooji even had time to recover two pairs of snow shoes she had misplaced on the Quarterdeck in a storm a few weeks previous.

Summit day.

Sooji leads the way up the Matukituki

Don't think I've ever seen these fungi before.

It really is an amazing part of the world

First light just as we reach the base of the SW ridge

Looking ahead to where we are going

Sam on the summit

Summit selfie - this might not be the best photo but given who I last shared this mountain top with, and how long I've tried to get back here to make a new memory, this photo is probably the most important one of the trip.

Sooji on the summit, making tea! What a great day.

Descending the ridge

Sam and Sooji chilling out while I take my time

Tititea in all it's glory

Patterns in the snow on the Bonar

A last look back

Sooji has located her snowshoes and is digging them out, with whatever tools she can lay to hand, I believe the snowstake finally found a use. We are drinking more tea and providing moral support.

Ok one more quick black and white from the Quarterdeck

Sun getting low in the sky as we prepare to make our way back down French Ridge

Sunset on French Ridge

Hut life with Sam

Tarn yoga with Sam on the walk out

A last glimpse

A classic Aspiring Hut and Matukituki view

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