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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 9, No. 1. March 1, 1946

Kuri Conquered

Kuri Conquered

Rising 6,000 feet behind Jumboland base camp was its peak Jumbo. Across the river, rearing its massive snow bulk into the sky, was Aeolus, a "cake-walk" that caused at least one aspirant to throw in the sponge on a misty day. But these were not for ex-volcanico Robin Oliver and his dauntless band. Mt. Alba, tucked safely away at the head of Newlands Valley, was the call. One glance at Alba and they decided to try their luck on the virgin Mt. Kuri. The first attempt was unsuccessful but the following day saw the indomitable three. Robin, Dick Jackson and Frank Evison, sidling along the razor-back rock ridge that led to the summit. Overjoyed, they returned to Jumboland. The rapine had begun.

Meanwhile in the North Branch two diligent climbers were prospecting a route up Pollux, the highest peak in the region, only twice before climbed. The entire party accordingly joined them.

From a glade by the river at the north forks Pollux comes first into the traveller's view—bluff surmounts ridge, ice-dome surmounts rock, all culminate in the highest at the corniced summit ridge. Behind his nearest brother's face scowls Castor, twin son of Leda. Over, 3,000 sheer feet of rock bluff he sheds his glacial cap—every few minutes the air is rent as the ice avalanche pours its streaming foam down to the valley floor below. From the valley. Castor is unclimbable—the only route to its summit leading from Pollux.

Three o'clock next morning and a small torch procession wends its way up the snowgrass slopes to the foot of the rock bluff. By six they reach the centre of the snow dome on the main spur; at eleven they rest at the foot of the summit cornice. Then Robin Oliver leads the first rope, cutting steps in the ice for every foot of the climb. One slip could spell disaster—no one slipped. Afterthree hours on the overhanging cornice the summit is attained—8,341 feet. To the north lies Cook; the south, Aspiring; the dense forests of the West Coast contrast with the barren wastes of Central Otago. Five minutes on the top, the view admired between handfuls of scroggin, and party descend Twenty hours out of camp, they return victorious.

The day after Barney Butchers led two ropes up the virgin Ragan. Several previous attempts had been frustrated due to choice of route and weather conditions. The cloudless sky endured, however, and in the early afternoon Don McLeod climbed what appeared to be the highest of the summit rocks.

One party did not return till after dark, the others choosing a "short cut" down.

Afterwards the Pollux party crossed from the South Wilkin to the East Matukituki. The expedition took four days, being only the second, ever made. They arrived at Wanaka raving about a storm on the Pearson saddle which let down the Alpine tent in the middle of the night, the unclimbable Mt. Picklehaube, and a batch of scones baked for them by a fair maid on Mt. Aspiring sheep station.

The bulk returned down the Wilkin, climbing Mt. Turner by way of interest. Several others left earlier for the Haast Pass trip to the West Coast. Back at Wanaka township the party split up, individuals leaving for Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin—most, if not all, have reappeared since.

A notable innovation was the addition of two meteorologists to the party. Save on one occasion, when a disagreement almost led to bloodshed, it was generally agreed that they were worth their weight in millibars.

A pleasant sequel was an evening sponsored by the Alpine Club in Wellington showing films and slides taken during the trip. At this well-attended gathering veteran mountaineer Mr. A. P. Harper spoke laudably of the Varsity club's efforts.

And after, of course, came the reunion—but who reads the police files?

Summit Cornice of Pollux: No. a, Milburn, belays Oliver leading first rope; Bev Morris under overhang in ice. Jackson leading second role. Photograph by Evison.

Summit Cornice of Pollux: No. a, Milburn, belays Oliver leading first rope; Bev Morris under overhang in ice. Jackson leading second role. Photograph by Evison.