Kiwis in quest to conquer unclimbed peak


OFF TO CONQUER: Rob Frost with his mountain climbing hero Graeme Dingle


New Zealand could again see itself in the mountaineering history books if an expedition to an unclimbed Himalayan peak goes without hitch.

Suitably named, Rob Frost and Ben Dare set out on Sunday to make international history by attempting to climb a never before scaled peak, Anidesha Chuli – also known as the White Wave.

Scott Blackford Scheele and Andrei van Dusschoten are also climbing.

Ascending the 6800 metre peak will put New Zealand back on the map for mountaineering, Mr Frost said.

“We’re so excited. We discovered Anidesha chuli in an old book that was written in 1976 by Graeme Dingle, who’s a bit of a hero for us.”

Mr Dingle, who climbed one of the world’s most formidable mountains, the North Face of Jannu at 7710m, met up with the team yesterday to offer them advice from his era.

“When training I would run up 1000m in 60 minutes while a friend of mine said he trained with red wine and pavlova,” Mr Dingle said.

“Altitude is a great leveller, it’s about the years of training you have done, not the recent training.”

Also on hand to offer advice was a climber from Sir Edmund Hillary’s generation, Norman Hardie.

Mr Hardie climbed the world’s third highest peak Kangchenjunga in 1955.

“There have been enormous, big, big changes in terms of the types of equipment, food, fuel, clothing and ability to communicate with each other with the use of satellites,” Mr Hardie said.

The latest expedition will involve three weeks at a base camp at 5000m in the Ramtang Valley. Whereas Mr Hardie was away from home for five months, setting out from Britain and sailing to Nepal, catching a train and climbing to base camp.

“These guys will be able to fly and be taken by truck. It was harder for us,” Mr Hardie said.

But Mr Hardie also climbed with the help of 300 porters, compared with the latest small team of 20 – 25.

But a smaller team is no draw back, Mr Dingle said. “Big expeditions are a pain in the arse.

“The best expedition is with one person. I’ve already listened to these guys’ plans and they’re no different from the plans Norman would have worked out.

“You have to look at the ridges and faces and see where you can camp and where avalanches can occur, and go for it.”

Avalanches will likely be the group’s biggest threat. Mr Frost was in Nepal when a 6.9 quake struck in September 2011, shaking ice shelves from the mountains and damaging buildings in several villages.

Both engineers, Mr Frost and Mr Dare will assess the structure of some buildings during their visit.

The team is supported by the Sport New Zealand Hillary Expedition, and say climbing the White Wave is comparable to Hillary’s Mt Everest feat – just 2000m lower but “much, much steeper”.

“I think they have a good chance,” 88-year-old Mr Hardie said. “It’s nice to keep in touch with the young ones, I would have loved to have been able to go.”