DOC Ranger makes first-ever solo winter ascent of Popes Nose

Department of Conservation —  29/07/2014

On Friday 18 July DOC Ranger, Guy McKinnon, completed the first-ever solo winter ascent of the east face of Popes Nose, in Mt Aspiring National Park.

DOC Ranger, Guy McKinnon.

DOC Ranger, Guy McKinnon

Guy, who is part of DOC’s Search and Rescue Alpine Rescue Team in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, walked for two days in cold and difficult conditions from northwest of Lake Wanaka to the base of the east face of the ice-covered Popes Nose. He then scaled the incredibly steep 2700 metre peak in just five hours.

Mount Aspiring / Tititea is New Zealand's highest mountain outside the Aoraki/Mount Cook region

Mount Aspiring / Tititea is New Zealand’s highest mountain outside the Aoraki/Mount Cook region

Although the peak has been climbed three times before, Guy is the only one to have achieved the feat solo, and all his predecessors were flown to its base by helicopter.

New Zealand Alpine Club general manager Sam Newton said the only other winter climb, 24 years ago by a party of four, took two days.

“It’s an incredible climb—an incredible feat of talent and endurance,” Mr Newton said.

The Climber magazine editor, Kester Brown, said Guy’s ascent “must rate as possibly the finest alpine achievement of New Zealand’s modern era”.

The east face of Popes Nose, Mt Aspiring. Photo: Guy McKinnon.

Yes it’s steep! The east face of Popes Nose, Mt Aspiring

“There are still a lot of new routes and records to be broken up on these faces but after two -10° nights out, I think I’m done for the winter!” said Guy when we contacted him to see if he’d mind us sharing his achievement here on the blog.

Massive congratulations Guy!

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  1. Guy Mckinnon on mountaineering « Conservation blog - August 9, 2014

    […] don’t know about you, but I was in awe when I heard about DOC ranger Guy Mckinnon’s incredible Mt Aspiring climb in the news recently (and even more so when I saw a photo of the peak he climbed—it was stupid, […]