Bold Alpine First Ascent Solo in New Zealand for Ben Dare
Alpinist Ben Dare has made a solo first ascent of a 700-metre route on Mount Percy Smith in New Zealand he’s calling The Promise.
The route goes up the Southwest Face of the remote mountain near Mount Cook on the south island and goes at VI 6+(WI4 M5+ A0). It rises next to a 1993 route by Bill McLeod and Peter Dickson called Dark Shore.
This wast the first time the wall had been climbed in mixed/winter conditions even though it’s technically austral spring.
New on the South-west face of Mt Percy Smith in the Landsborough region of New Zealand. ‘The Promise’ Grade VI, 6+ (WI4, M5+, A0), 700m. Ben Dare adds another solo first ascent to his already impressive collection in the South Island. This remote and wild face was identified several years ago as one of the ‘Last great unclimbed’ faces of the Southern Alps. It has now received its first spring ascent. A true winter ascent still remains for the future. @macpac @guenergynz @julbo_eyewear @drakenwatches @jetboilnz @mytendon @radixnutrition
Dare wrote for the New Zealand Alpine Team’s website after. He said, “The Southwest Face is a reclusive and obscure piece of real estate. It is rarely visited, and even less frequently attempted… Prior to attempting the climb, I had only ever seen two photographs of the face. One was taken in the same year that I was born.”
Dare bivied at the base and then started up the climb. He wrote, “Following ice splattered ledges through the overhangs that guard the base of the face – the result of gradually retreating permanent snow and icefields on the valley floor. Undercutting the rock, leaving it to defy the pull of gravity as it teeters precariously. Rock that lives up to all expectations, and not in a good way.”
Dare said he “aimed for a solitary gendarme silhouetted on the skyline.” The ice worsened as he neared the top.
“Slowly broken down by the recent warm temperatures, it clung defiantly to the rock beneath,” he wrote. “Tentatively adhered with the last grasp of a dying winter. Pushed right by the leaning strata, haphazardly stacked layers of weathered and friable Greywacke.” Read the full story here.
Dare is no stranger to bold first ascent solos, in November of 2017, he soloed the 550-metre Remembrance on Aoraki.
In 2014, Dare and Daniel Joll made first ascent on Mount Aspiring, watch in the video below.