FIVE PASSES, FOUR GIRLS

I first met Se­lena five years ago in our first year at Otago Univer­sity, but our his­tory started 62 years ear­lier when our grand­fa­thers tramped to­gether on many ad­ven­tures through the South­ern Alps. The most mem­o­rable of those be­ing a two-week epic to the

Say Yes To Adventure - - Features - Stephanie Lam­bie

HAV­ING SPENT MOST of our re­spec­tive child­hoods out­side, we de­cided in a mo­ment of mad­ness to re­trace the steps of our grand­fa­thers, and re­turn to the Olivine Ice Plateau. Soon enough, how­ever, we re­alised that we had very few of the skills re­quired for that kind of ex­pe­di­tion. After re­vis­ing our plan, we set­tled on a more mod­est ex­cur­sion through the kind-of-fa­mous-but-not-re­ally Five Pass Route in Mt As­pir­ing Na­tional Park. The plan was to com­plete it in four days, with four girls and slightly in­suf­fi­cient three ice axes.

The Queen­stown re­gion over the New Year pe­riod was ab­so­lute chaos and over­flow­ing with peo­ple, to the point that even Glenorchy, quite lit­er­ally on the way to (ad­mit­tedly, a very pretty) nowhere, was teem­ing with peo­ple. So many, in fact, that after tramp­ing up the Dart River for four hours we came across tour upon tour of tourists in fun yaks, lo­cals on jet skis and hol­i­day mak­ers in jet boats. Speak­ing from ex­pe­ri­ence, it is ad­vis­able to re­mem­ber that, when cross­ing the Beans Burn, one should look left, right and then left again to avoid get­ting skit­tled by a jet boat. Had we forded the river 15 sec­onds ear­lier, this ar­ti­cle could have pos­si­bly been an obit­u­ary.

Some time later, we for­got about the jet boats and tourists, and con­tin­ued our way to­ward the first of the Five Passes. At ev­ery break, we were busy read­ing and reread­ing Moir's Guide North so that, when the time came to be­gin the first ‘tech­ni­cal' route of the trip, we would know ex­actly what to do. On the as­cent to Fohn Sad­dle, Moir says, “Climb a small gut on the true right of the river”. De­spite know­ing the in­struc­tions by heart, we, in ea­ger an­tic­i­pa­tion to be­gin the climb, saw an ob­vi­ous gut (which was in hind­sight by no means small) and thought, ‘ Yes. That's it.' It wasn't. We only re­alised this about half way up when two of us got stuck and were un­able to get back down, and so our only op­tion was to keep head­ing up. We de­cided to di­vide and con­quer, send­ing the other two a dif­fer­ent way. We re­con­vened an hour later on a small ledge, some­what re­lieved to be with life and limb. The theme song of the climb (and con­se­quently the rest of the trip) be­came Cold­play's, The Sci­en­tist, “No­body said it was easy... No one ever said it would be this hard…”. To cel­e­brate hav­ing sur­vived the first

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