Ascent of Mount Technical on 2019-03-01

Climber: Duncan Lennon

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Friday, March 1, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Technical
    Location:New Zealand
    Elevation:6135 ft / 1869 m

Ascent Trip Report

It was a beautiful approach to this mountain, but on the climb itself I encountered less-than-classic conditions. Mount Technical is sadly not alone in the Southern Alps in being a great-looking chunk of choss.

I parked at the St. James carpark near Lewis Pass in the afternoon and struck off up the Lewis Tops route, actually a semi-proper trail. This rapidly gained the bushline and the very attractive tarn-dotted ridge that lies north of the peak. Within 90 minutes I was encamped on the shore of one of these tarns, free to enjoy a spectacular evening with signature New Zealand views and wild stars.

In the morning my bivy sack was covered with a quarter inch of frost! I've never seen so much frost. This also coated all the tussocks and grasses that I would have to traverse en route to the base of the peak. I lingered as the sun rose some more but finally I just had to move. With soaking feet I reached the basin below The Apprentice, scaring off two chamois as I climbed down to the saddle. Above me was the jagged west ridge of Technical. It sounds cooler in writing than it actually was. Some mellow slopes led me to the crest, where I could pop my head over a cliff and see a large scree slope (the southwest face) and some couloirs extending from it to the summit, but no obvious way down to it. I climbed a distance up the ridge, popping off several junk holds as I traversed around little spires, but the cliff blocking the descent onto the scree face was getting even more serious. Due to the poor rock quality, I didn't contemplate taking the full west ridge, though it otherwise looked airy and fun. So I reversed to a crappy chute lower down the ridge than my point of access, shimmied down that, and worked over and up the scree to the summit, which weirdly had a full-size telephone pole implanted in it.

The view was unbelievable. I was very grateful for the whole experience, but I think I'd built this mountain up in my head to be something it's not. Something like a proving ground of classic scrambling, or an NZ rite of passage. Rather it's a prominent but undistinguished peak in a very epic setting, with dozens of cool bivy sites just to its north. Try it in winter!
Summary Total Data
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)

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