The largest climbing meet in New Zealand – the festival, run by the Expedition Climbers Club, attracts climbers from a range of backgrounds and abilities. Beginners have the opportunity to rub shoulders and share the rope with the country’s top alpine climbers, and take part in a series of clinics, competitions, races and social gatherings to advance and promote modern mixed climbing.
Members of the New Zealand Alpine Team are part of the organizing committee, and are looking forward to inspiring amateur climbers through their climbing clinics.
We spoke to NZAT member Ben Dare to hear all about what newcomers can expect from the 2016 festival – run from 25-28 August.
Run by experienced climbers, the instructional clinics are a major drawcard for amateur climbers looking to hone their skills, gain some new ones, and make valuable contacts within the climbing community. There were only limited spaces available, and these clinics filled quickly this year.
“We’re really stoked with the response than we’ve had for this year’s festival, and in particular with how quickly all of the clinics have filled. I always get a buzz out of helping with these clinics, as it is a great opportunity for me to give something back by passing on what I have learnt to a new generation of aspiring alpine climbers. The size of the festival has slowly grown over the years, but we are very aware of this and have made a conscious decision to limit the size of the event, maximizing enjoyment for everyone involved. We want to ensure the mountain doesn’t become overcrowded, and prefer to focus on quality over quantity,” says Ben Dare.
The clinics cater to all levels of ability and a range of interests – from basic snowcraft and avalanche awareness, through to backcountry ski touring and the more advanced ice and mixed clinics. Each offers the participants the unique opportunity to learn and practice a full range of new alpine skills from some of New Zealand’s most experienced climbers and back country skiers.
The programme will follow a similar format to previous years, with a good balance between instructional clinics and general open climbing up in the Remarkables, along with a range of activities hosted at the Queenstown Events Centre each evening.
The festival is run by volunteers, with all money raised going into the Expedition Capital Fund, set up to support the Expedition Climbers Club’s annual trips. The inaugural trip was completed this year, with members heading to Peru on what became the largest expedition to leave New Zealand in 30 years. As for the next trip – that’s to be decided at the festival, but if it’s anything like this year’s adventure, it’s sure to be epic.