Today we meet our guides and other group participants at the Wanaka office, 20 Brownston Street, at 9am for a briefing. We then take time to organise our personal and group equipment (bring all your gear, including items you are not to sure whether to include). We cover basic rope skills, trip planning, rescue first aid and decision-making before we pack up for the trip. We travel by road to Fox Glacier township (or Aspiring or Mt Cook). From here we board our flight to the remote Fox Glacier, viewing the awesome peaks of the region we will soon be scaling. On arrival we establish our tent or snow cave camp, which will be our base for the next few days. Once the camp is sorted we learn the use of stoves and organise general camp management. After dinner we prepare for our first night's sleep on the snow (a novelty for first timers).*Please note you will need to arrive in Wanaka the day before the trip starts as day 1 will be an early start.
We start the day with an early breakfast, followed by skills practice. Snow anchors are introduced along with the basic snow craft techniques – use of an ice axe, learning to crampon and to self-arrest. After lunch we rope up for crevasse travel training and other relevant skills such as belaying, abseiling (rappelling) and all going well, crevasse rescue training. We finish the day with a group cook-up and lesson on weather forecasting.
Another early start sees the group roped up and away just on dawn towards Mt Lendenfeld on the upper reaches of the Fox Glacier. Heading up the slopes to Marcel Col we actually have to place snow anchors and belay on snow towards the summit. Reaching the summit (first of the course) we view Mt Tasman right in front of us, and at least four of the surrounding 3000m peaks. On our descent we find some suitable seracs and experience ice climbing before returning to camp for the evening.
We start our approach to Glacier Peak (3000m) by headlamp until dawn breaks. Climbing the final sections with belay anchors to reach the summit, and learning how to climb around tricky bergschrunds (crevasse at the top of a glacier) with a mix of belay and glacier travel techniques. Descend to Camp.
Our day is spent around camp. A navigation lesson is followed by whiteout navigation exercises. This crucial skill can be the difference between comfort and concern in the mountains and by knowing these skills one can actually avoid ever getting (completely) lost! A more involved weather lesson follows lunch with time for a round of cards before dinner. Before the end of the evening your guide details the requirements of mountain first aid and emergency response.
We break camp and head for the Franz Joseph glacier region. The packs are heavy so it's early afternoon when we arrive at our destination, Centennial hut. Leaving our gear in the hut we make an afternoon reconnaissance of The Minaret's. This evening we descend to the hut for a comfortable dinner.
Just near the hut is a perfect ice face to further develop ice-climbing skills. Today we practice using only ice screws as runners and belays. In the afternoon we return to the hut. Using the skills already acquired its now time to consolidate them by planning and executing a trip (as a group) under the watchful eyes of the instructors. After preparing our gear the plan is to place a high snow cave bivvy on Graham Saddle and the following day, climb the Minarets. At over 3000m it is no mean feat! By nightfall we are set up in our bivvy bags on the Saddle watching the sun descend into the Tasman Sea.
After an early start (3:00am) today we ascend the summit before we carefully descend as a group to pick up the bivvy gear before returning to the hut.
Today will be used to complete the second part of our climb, or if this is not necessary it will allow us a rest or contingency day for a summit attempt.
Today is summit day so we make a very early start (up at 1.00am) for what we would expect to be a 16 - 22 hour day! If necessary we will have the option to break the climb into two days – climb part of the route to a high bivouac camp and continue our ascent the following day.
Consolidate skills learned on the course or ascend a practice peak such as Mt Dixon. Tomorrow could be our summit day so we will assess the weather and local conditions and get an up to date forecast on the radio schedule. If it is looking 'on' then we will retire early to get a few hours sleep in.
Descend to Chancellor Hut on the Fox Glacier. Today we utilise all of our newly acquired skills under the watchful eyes of our guides.
Accommodation and food is not included in the cost of the trip on these days.
Complete descent of Glacier. Return to Wanaka by road. Trip concludes.
2 Days Rest in Wanaka. These two days are not included in the cost of your trip but your World Expeditions reservations consultant can assist you with booking suitable accommodation arrangements.
Commence walk out (over Cinerama Col via Haast Ridge and the Tasman Glacier) or fly on a back flight to Mt Cook airport or weather contingency day. Typically the walk out takes 7-9 hours and can be very difficult in some conditions.
Meet your guide in Wanaka to gear check, and then the drive to Mount Cook (2.5 hours). Fly into the mountains to Plateau Hut in the early afternoon by helicopter or fixed wing plane. This afternoon we will familiarise ourselves with the surrounding area before retiring to the hut for another high altitude dinner.
Second day of walk out, weather contingency day or alternative activity (rock climbing at Mt Cook Village or in Wanaka). Drive back to Wanaka.