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Duo to Tackle Peak in Patagonia

8 November 2007

Duo to Tackle Peak in Patagonia through SPARC’s Hillary Expedition

Two Kiwi climbers are preparing to take on one of the most daunting areas in the world this month, when they will attempt to make the first ascent of a remote, unnamed rocky peak in the middle of the Northern Patagonian icecap in the Aisen Province, Chile.

The Summit Footprints team, Sean Waters and Jorian Kippax, set off on the ‘Lost Tower’ expedition on 13 November. The expedition to the Tower (known as Cerro Incognito until a local name is established) is expected to take 40 days. The team is being sponsored by the SPARC Hillary Expedition, an initiative which aims to facilitate inspiring adventures for outdoor physical activities.

To access the peak, Waters and Kippax will pioneer a new North to South traverse route of the Northern Patagonian icecap. They will cover a distance of around 130 kilometres across one of the largest contiguous land ice masses in the world, enduring howling winds and inevitable whiteouts.

The pair will travel to the northern end of the ice by coastal freighter and then kayak through the Chilean Fiords. They will convert their kayaks into sleds and drag them up little-known glacial systems to access the icecap.

Once on flatter terrain, Waters and Kippax will head south on skis to reach the ‘Lost Tower’ and attempt to make the first ascent of the peak. They will then exit the icecap via a new route through previously untravelled glaciated mountain ranges.

In the final leg of the journey, Waters and Kippax will kayak back to the Chilean Fiords and then on to the small fishing village of Tortel.

This is one of five expedition teams sponsored in 2006/07 through the SPARC Hillary Expedition initiative. SPARC spokesperson Ross Palmer said SPARC Hillary Expeditions are important initiatives that encourage New Zealanders to be physically active, set goals and take on new challenges.

“Expeditions such as this provide inspiration and encouragement for all New Zealanders to move, try new things and make the most of the amazing physical challenges that the great outdoors provide,” said Palmer.

Waters, an outdoor instructor based in Christchurch, and Kippax, an Emergency and Intensive Care Doctor based in Tasmania, have 38 years of mountaineering and rock-climbing experience between them. They have previously been on mountain climbing expeditions throughout the world, including China, Tibet, Argentina and New Zealand, and in 2005 were jointly awarded the CMC/Macpac NZ Mountaineer of the Year Award. The pair are also highly experienced sea kayakers.

Waters is the second from his family to undertake a SPARC Hillary Expedition this year. His brother, Marcus Waters, recently returned from an expedition to complete an all New Zealand-team crossing of the Greenland icecap.

This is the last of five SPARC Hillary Expeditions undertaken in 2006/07. Other expeditions in 2006/07 were:

Rock Solid Progression Project
Objective: To free climb three first ascents on three major rock walls in Fiordland and to base jump one of them. Completed in January/February 2007.

Adventure Philosophy
Objective: To complete an all New Zealand crossing of the Greenland icecap (700 kilometres) from the east coast of Greenland to the west followed by a kayak journey to the capital city. Completed in September 2007.

The First Ascent of Beka Brakai Chhok
Objective: To make the first ascent of Beka Brakai Chhok, which is 6,940 metres, and to make a significant ascent in Karakoram by a team of two of New Zealand’s leading female mountaineers. Completed in July/August 2007.

New Zealand Himalaya Alpine-Style Expedition
Objective: To complete ascents of technically and physically challenging routes at high altitude, in “alpine-style”. Completed in October 2007.

SPARC is the New Zealand government agency charged with promoting, encouraging and supporting sport and physical recreation in New Zealand. For more information visit


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