Words fail Fiordland. I’ve found this several times overseas, my descriptions sounding dry and withered even to my own ears, facing blank or disbelieving of faces of the climbers I am trying to get through to. But who can paint with words these great gulfs of air, the play of cloud and water on the flanks of these proud granite giants? No, this will remain primarily a photo essay.
I first really noticed Mt Pembroke from her much celebrated neighbour, Mitre Peak, Jan 2011. But Pembroke was what really captured my breath, the first powerful bastion of this southern land, rearing her snowy head 2000m from the pounding swells of the Tasman. The photo I took has sat, framed, by my bed ever since.
Pembrokes’ Lippe Couloir has become almost de rigeur for mountaineers hailing from Southland, though ascents are still uncommon. The reputation the bushbashing approach up the Harrison has earned (or from the open coast, Stanley Mulvany!) may be a factor. For a long time I thought it was skiied every few years, however this turns out to be a misunderstanding. On further inquiry we haven’t yet heard of a ski descent (if you have I’d love to hear of it).
This trip was only a few days after I returned from Cook, and immediately before flying to Canada (indeed, I was late back for my own leaving bbq, and flew the next day). Thus, the temptation to stay home and surf on the South Coast was strong, especially when planned partner Penny Gottard could no longer make it. Thank you Penny for the use of your brand new tent (every time I almost tarp bivvy in Fiordland, I am later very thankful we carried a tent); and thank you Shane Orchard for stepping in with enthusiasm, driving through the night from chch.
I used to thrive on climbing mountains by myself; it’s when I have known and developed myself the most. However, this trip really brought home to me the powerful value of a trip in the mountains with an old and trusted friend. Experience shared can be experience magnified, expanded. It’s been an honor and pleasure learning from Shane over the years, sharing so many spectacular lines and landscapes. And I think I would have to say that this trip was perhaps my favorite of the bunch.