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!).
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!
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
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, 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
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.
DOC Director-General, Lou Sanson, speaking at the official opening of the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track
150 years ago today (or thereabouts), in a time when an ‘epic’ was just a part of everyday life, the Dobson brothers stumbled across a pass linking the east coast to the gold fields in the west. That pass was Arthur’s Pass.
Legend has it that Arthur’s Pass isn’t named after Arthur Dudley Dobson as such, but rather that someone remarked that Arthur’s pass was the most suitable pass for direct travel to the west.
The name stuck, and Arthur’s Pass became one of only two places in New Zealand to have an apostrophe! (The other is Hawke’s Bay.)
Celebrations of this feat of discovery occurred over the weekend and resulted in the population of the pass swelling by over 400%.
Cutting the ribbon! Minister for the Environment, Amy Adams, and Zeb Patterson (the great, great, great, grandson of Arthur Dudley Dobson), open the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track
Festivities commenced on the Friday night with the unveiling of a bronze kea statue. As we unveiled the taonga, a member of the audience did a sterling haka, and a real kea flew over us.
Arthur’s Pass is one of the best places in New Zealand to see these amazing birds.
Arthur’s Pass is one of the best places in New Zealand to see kea.
In typical Arthur’s Pass fashion, the main attraction—the official opening of the Arthur’s Pass walking track—was accompanied by clear skies and warm weather.
The creation of the new track, however, was no easy feat. DOC staff, and the contractors constructing the track, had to cope with the extremes of local weather.
So far the track has coped with many deluges of rain, gale force winds, blistering sun, a minus 17 degree frost, and a 2 metre snow dump!
Many people took the opportunity to take a guided walk of the track and discover some of the magical flora and fauna of the pass
For those travelling to other places through the Pass, the route travelled has changed significantly from what it was 150 years ago.
Back then the journey took a long time. Once the coach road was constructed (can you believe that they managed to build the road from east to west in one year!) the journey was reduced to four days. Today it is a pleasant two hours to Christchurch, or one hour to the West Coast.
Discover the heritage and fantastic scenery of the Arthur’s Pass walking track yourself. Further information and directions can be found on the DOC website.