Story: Mountaineering

Page 5. Beyond the central Southern Alps

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Outside the Aoraki/Mt Cook region

Guided climbing was based at the Hermitage hotel, but the early climbers also visited ranges beyond the central Southern Alps. Harry Birley climbed the East Peak of Mt Earnslaw in 1890. Guy Mannering climbed the Low Peak of Mt Rolleston, above Arthur’s Pass, in 1891. Cloud obscured the High Peak, which was not climbed until 1912. Mannering attempted Mt Arrowsmith in 1893.

Jim Dennistoun, Lawrence Earle and guide Jack Clarke made the first ascent of Mt D’Archiac in 1910. Mt Arrowsmith was climbed two years later. Up the Waimakariri, A. P. Harper climbed Mt Davie in 1912. In Fiordland, the great prize was Mt Tūtoko. The first serious attempt was made by Malcolm and Kenneth Ross and William Hodgkins in 1895. The peak became an obsession for Samuel Turner, who finally succeeded in February 1924, guided by Peter Graham.

Mt Aspiring was first attempted from the Waiototo River in 1905, but not climbed until 1909 by Alec Graham, Bernard Head and Jack Clarke.

A remarkable pair

On the West Coast, an unusual team made an indelible mark on New Zealand mountaineering. Ebenezer Teichelmann, born in Australia, was a doctor in Hokitika from 1897 until 1926. Henry Newton, from England, was vicar at Ross from 1901 until 1907. While Newton was in New Zealand, he and Teichelmann initiated climbing from the West Coast side of the Southern Alps. Often climbing with Alec Graham, the pair completed 26 first ascents, culminating with Mt La Perouse in 1906.

A mixed group on top

Ebenezer Teichelmann, R. S. Low, Henry Newton and Alec Graham achieved the first ascent of Mt La Perouse in 1906. It was noted that there were ‘a Scot, an Englishman, a German/Scot born in Australia and a New Zealander sitting on a peak named after a French navigator.’ 1

Access from the west

On the eastern side of the Southern Alps broad valleys, with little forest, give relatively easy access to the high peaks. The western flank of the range is much steeper and has a higher rainfall. Heavy forest, deeply gorged rivers and steep icefalls guard the peaks. Teichelmann and Newton were among the first to force routes onto the high West Coast neves (the high snowfields that feed glaciers).

Footnotes:
  1. Bob McKerrow, Ebenezer Teichelmann: pioneer New Zealand mountaineer, explorer, surgeon, photographer and conservationist. New Delhi: Tara-India Research Press, 2005, p. 161. › Back
How to cite this page:

John Wilson, 'Mountaineering - Beyond the central Southern Alps', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/mountaineering/page-5 (accessed 15 November 2018)

Story by John Wilson, published 24 Sep 2007, updated 2 Feb 2017