At around lunch time Chris, Emily, and I set off for a Forne Alpine Start with the intention of climbing Single Cone in the Remarkables above Queenstown. Just to spice things up Chris was keen to ride up the Remarkables ski access road. So we packed all the climbing gear and some food onto two mountain bikes and a road bike and headed off in the sweltering heat. Some way up Chris used a sling to tow Emily on her road bike. I continued to slog up well off their pace. At some point Chris sent Emily ahead and put me on the tow line instead and I was pulled up towards the top.
We left the bikes at the ski field and walked up to Lake Alta where we devoured a late lunch before setting off up the mountain at around 5:30 pm. Alpine start! Despite my whining that it would take too long and it would get dark the ascent was just a scramble. I was imagining some trad climbing but we didn’t even unpack the rope. The route may have been something like a NZ rock climbing grade 6?? The friction on the rock was good and there were many hand holds. No problem. Still, if it were wet or there were snow it would be quite different.
The summit surprised us. I had been imagining a long drawn-out technical ascent but it must have taken around an hour to reach it from Lake Alta.
We took many posy photos at the top before walking down the ridge to a number of fixed abseil stations. This section could have been carefully down climbed but we decided we should make use of the rope since we had it with us. So we rappelled our way merrily down taking more posy photos before descending on easy rock to Lake Alta.
We grabbed our bikes and had a fun 30 minute descent down the road back to Queenstown arriving as the sun was setting.
We left early again for the 5 towers. The plan was to do a multipitch route that we had been eyeing up yesterday. On arriving we weren’t sure whether the last pitch would be too hard for Leonie so we went and checked out a funky tower instead.
I lead the first pitch and then belayed Leonie from the anchor. She bailed after not long and instead continued belaying me from the ground as I went in search of the next anchor. I figured that the two pitches wouldn’t be longer than 60 m together and if they were longer than 30 m I could abseil back down to the first anchor.
It was pretty run out between bolts and I was not at all keen to fall but the route was very easy so it wasn’t a problem. I discovered the next anchor on a large rocky outcrop from the main tower. Leonie decided to try it again and made it up this time.
I set up the safety at the anchor so that we both had enough rope so we could walk around a bit. I then had a quick breakfast and started into the 3rd, errr 2nd pitch. The route headed off to the left and was sparsely bolted. I was again really not keen to fall. I managed it to the top and enjoyed the awesome view.
Leonie lowered me back to the anchor and I lowered her back to the ground before abseiling myself. It turned out the 60 m rope was long enough so that both strands reached the ground.
We celebrated with a cold drink at the nearby refugio before doing another climb and then heading back down to Cortina for some lazing.
Leonie and I got up at 6 am to avoid the crowds and drove up to the Refugio “Cinque Torri”. The weather gods were happy and the sun was shining. We ate breakfast at the car with the awesome rock towers of the 5 towers behind us.
We then headed slowly up to Averau. It’s a peak a bit higher up. There’s a short easy via ferrata at the beginning of the climb followed by an easy walk to the summit.
We headed back down via a Refugio for hot chocolate and cake and then it was time for some sport climbing. We found a bunch of easy routes around the 4 or 5 grade.
The towers are very impressive and the longer routes look very interesting. I eyed up a bolted 3 pitch route. There are also many longer trad routes. These I didn’t eye up.