Guy Mckinnon on mountaineering

Elizabeth Marenzi —  09/08/2014

I 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, crazy, steep!).

Mountaineer Guy McKinnon.

Guy McKinnon

It got me wondering just how you get to be the guy (no pun intended) who does that. What path does a person take to become a mountaineering legend? So, for all the wannabe mountaineers out there, I thought I’d ask Guy…

Why/how did you get into mountain climbing?

I started day walking and tramping with my extended family on holidays, that led gradually into the alpine arena and on to mountaineering.

This is a pretty traditional path into the activity. A lot of younger kids today seem to just go straight into the harder side of climbing but, by starting out at the grassroots level, I got a very sound set of traditional outdoor values established early on in my life. I’m proud I still carry these with me!

Mt Crosscut

Mt Crosscut

What/where was your first climb?

My earliest mountaineering experiences were in the Arthur’s Pass National Park. I did instruction there with club groups from the New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC) and Canterbury Mountaineering Club (CMC), mainly on the peaks between Mount Bealey and Avalanche Peak.

Looking south along the Bealy River, past Mt Bealy. Photo: Jason Blair | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Looking south along the Bealy River, past Mount Bealy

My first really big trip was over the Ball Pass with the NZAC. It was a big adventure!

Ball Pass Crossing: View from East Side Hooker River. Photo: digitaltrails | flickr | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Ball Pass Crossing: View from East Side Hooker River

What/where is your favourite climb?

I actually don’t have a favourite climb as such, but my favourite mountain would be Mount Sefton.

I’ve had four fabulous climbs on that peak and it has always treated me well.

Mount Sefton and its reflection in a tarn. Photo: Tom | flickr | CC BY-NC 2.0.

Mount Sefton, Aoraki/ Mount Cook National Park

How do you approach training and preparing for your big climbs (mentally/physically)?

Climbing the Central Spur of Elie de Beaumont

Climbing the Central Spur of Elie de Beaumont

Unlike the new breed of lifestyle climbers, I don’t do any training or preparation at all. As an amateur climber I am happy to go out and have a crack, other than that I get on with the rest of my life.

Still, like a lot of us men in the circa 40-year age group, a bit of exercise and dietary caution is needed to ward off that beer gut…

Any advice for young people (or not so young people) who are keen to follow in your footsteps?

Get out into the our amazing outdoors and give it a go—nature has already given you everything you need to walk the earth.

Kicking back in the Tian Shan. Photo: Guy Mckinnon.

Kicking back in the Tian Shan (Central Asia)

Elizabeth Marenzi

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Elizabeth is part of the communications team at DOC. She enjoys reconnecting the urban desk jockeys of the world with nature—believing it to be the best anecdote for “tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people.”