The New Zealand Alpine Team was recently ice climbing in the Canadian Rockies. During their three weeks, they climbed as many of the classics as they could squeeze in.
The New Zealand Alpine Team is a new concept. It was born from a desire to support and encourage aspiring young Kiwi alpinists looking to improve their mountain skills.
Eight of New Zealand’s best alpine climbers have volunteered their time to mentor a future generation of climber.
The program takes eight applicants, aged between 18 and 24. These eight students are then given three years of intensive training, with trips and expeditions around the world to further their climbing skills.
The New Zealand Alpine Team is succeeding like many of the European climbing teams. In North America, despite recent efforts by top climbers including Steve House, no model has worked to create a long-lasting team.
One cold day in Canmore, Gripped’s editor Brandon Pullan met with Daniel Joll, one of the team members. Joll shed light on how the team was formed and how it functions. The plan was simple. Start a team, invite the top climbers and apply for funding. When people asked what their goal is, they answered, “To find the next Sir Edmund Hillary.”
Joll is a passionate alpine climber who travels extensively and has made multiple trips to North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
He helpeded establish some of New Zealand’s hardest winter climbs around Mount Cook, Fiordland and his local alpine area the Remarkables. He’s visited Patagonia, Bugaboos, Yosemite and Chamonix. Back at home, Joll has helped establish long and challenging rock routes in the Darran Mountains of Fiordland most notably on the Kaipo Wall and South Face of Marian.
Gripped: What is the New Zealand Alpine Team?
Dan: The New Zealand Alpine Team is a mentoring program designed to speed up the development of young alpine climbers in New Zealand. It’s going great.
G: How many members?
D: Currently there are 12 members in the team with room to grow.
G: How did you get started?
D: A group of us who felt there was no way to train and teach young people under the club structures in New Zealand set up new club the expedition climbers club which in turn runs things like the Remarkables Ice and Mixed Climbing Festival and the Alpine team. These events and team are based around getting climbers together, training and fundraising for expedition climbing.
G: Where have you gone to climb?
D: As a team in the last year we have climbed in Patagonia , Alaska, Chamonix and Canada.
G: Plans this year?
D: Yosemite in June and Patagonia in November.
G: How do you afford it?
D: Mostly through our own funds, but we have some excellent sponsorship agreements with Macpac, Tendon, Jetboil, Gu, Salewa and a couple of corporate backers in New Zealand. However, with the size of the group we always need to contribute to the cost of the trips.
G: How long were you in Canada?
D: Three weeks.
G: What did you climb?
D: Many of the classics, too many to list. We climbed everyday.[shareprints gallery_id=”10934″ gallery_type=”thumb_slider” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”large” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]G: Favourite route?
D: Polar Circus and Weeping Pillar. We climbed Polar Circus in only a few hours, it was in great shape.
G: What was the hardest pitch you led here?
D: Happy days was the most mentally demanding and the hardest pure ice route. I think it’s WI6+X right now. I thought it would have been hooked out, but I really had to work for pulling the roof.[shareprints gallery_id=”10935″ gallery_type=”slider” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”large” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]G: When are you coming back?
D: July for Squamish and the Bugaboos. we will be back again in two years for another team ice climbing trip.
–Daniel Joll and the New Zealand Alpine Team proves that modern-day national climbing teams can thrive when everyone has the same goal. Maybe one day, we will see the same passion for a Canadian Alpine Team.