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A Second New Route – Sheila Face Aoraki/Mount Cook

Updated: Jan 7

The Ministry of Silly Walks – MC5+, WI4, M4, 800m

Rose Pearson and Sam Waetford have followed in Caleb and Kim’s foot steps to climb another new route on the Sheila face of Mount Cook. Rose and Sam had been watching the weather hoping the high would continue through the weekend as Sam wasn’t flying in from Australia till midday on Friday. They had three days before the weather broke, and decided to aim for the Sheila after hearing it was in good condition from Kim and Caleb on the way down to MCNP.

They photographed the face on the way in before reaching the hut at 3pm. Piecing together a possible route from their view from the hut and an old photo taken from the top of Mt Hicks, they decided on a line beginning 100m up Fyfe’s Gut that cuts up and right just to the left of Kim and Caleb’s proud new line, Pilgram. They hoped this would give slightly easier travel within their tight time frame.

A midnight wake-up saw them reach the base of Fyfe’s Gut at 2:30am having benefitted from Caleb and Kim’s boot-pack. They climbed 100m of Fyfe’s Gut before breaking up following a narrow smear of ice. This led to the crux of the route: a short section of steep climbing on rotten ice closer above the belay than either of them would have liked, before the ground opened up again. Another section of tiered ice led them to the rightward trending ramp they’d been aiming for. Upon cresting the Left buttress a leftward trending mixed pitch took them to the upper slopes where generally classic ice and mixed climbing lead them to the ridge 100m climbers left of the summit.

From there, they descended to the summit rocks, rapped to the Linda and again followed Kim and Caleb’s tracks round to the Dampier-Cook couloir. Seven 50m raps brought them back to the Sheila Face. They reached the hut an hour later, 23hrs after leaving it the previous morning and seven hours in descent. The route is named in recognition of Sam’s suffering on the walk out.

The minstry of silly walks topo

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