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One of the most important achievements in NZ mountaineering

Media Release

Monday, 21 July 2014,

Solo climber completes ‘one of the best and most important accomplishments in New Zealand mountaineering history’.

Guy McKinnon has completed the long-awaited second winter ascent of the east face of Popes Nose, near Mount Aspiring, in impeccable style.

Without the aid of helicopter transport to reach the base of the climb, Guy commenced at 9:20am on Friday the 18th of July and reached the summit five hours later.

In Guy’s words: ‘The unfolding of this attempt was long and arduous beyond words and required mental effort and determination in excess of anything previously required of me by alpinism.’

From the peak, Guy descended to the Upper Volta Glacier, intending to complete an ‘integral’ ascent of the North East face of Mount Aspiring. That climb was thwarted by poor ice conditions and he sought shelter at French Ridge Hut - crossing the Bonar Glacier in gale-force winds and a white-out.

Kester Brown, Editor of The Climber magazine, has said:

“Guy’s second winter ascent of the east face of Pope’s Nose, solo, walking in and out, must rate as possibly the finest alpine achievement of New Zealand’s modern era.”

“The first ascent was completed by a team of four, who flew in to the base of the face, bivvied en-route, and flew home from the top. That ascent stood as a benchmark for difficult winter alpinism in this country for 24 years.”

Nick Craddock, Wanaka based IFMGA Guide and NZAC life-member was on that first ascent and described Guy’s ascent as “one of the best and most important accomplishments in New Zealand mountaineering history.”

“On par with the first ascent of Zurbriggen Ridge on Mt Cook, Tom Fyfe’s first ascent of Malte Brun, and Bill McLeod’s solo of the Yankee Kiwi Couloir on Mt Hicks.”


Guy McKinnon is one of New Zealand’s most driven and accomplished mountaineers.

In 2010, became the first person to make solo ascents of all 34 of New Zealand's 3000-metre mountains.

In 2013, Guy succeeded in climbing the West face of Mt Tutoko, long acknowledged as one of the last great unclimbed challenges in New Zealand climbing.

For that ascent he was nominated for the prestigious Piolet d’Or.


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