Two parties of committed trampers traversing the ice fortresses of the Adams Wilderness Area and a team bravely eyeing up the granite faces of Mt Terror are the latest recipients of the FMC Mountains and Forests Trust Youth Scholarships.
Sylvie Ardmore of Auckland University Tramping Club will lead her party on a two week loop from Erewhon Station that will include the ice plateaus known as the Gardens of Eden and Allah. The return journey will take them into the Rakaia headwaters and over a peak named “Jollie Sisters”. This peak was perhaps chosen to highlight their desire to promote wilderness experiences to women. As Ardmore explains:
“While there are more and more women taking on the wilderness there still seems to be a tendency to sit back and let the boys lead when the terrain gets tough. Helen and I both enjoy the added challenge of spear-heading and co-ordinating expeditions and hope we can encourage more women (as well as people generally) to give things like this a go.”
Kate Wooten of Canterbury University Tramping club will lead the other party that will undertake a more traditional traverse of the ice plateaus from Harihari to Erewhon. They will also look to camp on the ice and summit peaks, including Newton Peak the highest in the vicinity.
The benefits their experience will have in enabling the participants to provide better instruction in their respective clubs featured prominently in both applications. Ardmore stated that, “maintaining a strong skills base in a university club is not always easy given the high membership turnover. The experience we will gain from this trip will make us an asset and ensure high quality instruction on Bush and Snow Schools in years to come”. There is certainly nothing to beat learning by doing, as long as you choose your challenge wisely. The previous experience of these young trampers suggests that their goals are well within their competence, and their examples will inspire their club mates.
The final award was to a team from Otago University Tramping Club, led by Kathryn Vollinger, who have their eyes on new routes on Mt Terror. The granite mountains of Northern Fiordland are well-known among climbers and this expedition will continue their exploration. Geoff Spearpoint, one of the judges, identified a key factor in this proposal being their willingness to approach from a distance these rugged faces. He applauded, “the commitment to climbing walls in wilderness areas by tramping in rather than flying. Such trips help ‘up the anti’, and challenge others to make this sort of approach.”
The FMC Mountains and Forests Trust were very impressed with the standard of applications and increased their grant allocation to a total of $3500. While possibly these expeditions would have happened regardless of the support, it is a great opportunity to be able to recognise our young outdoor leaders. More young people will no doubt be encouraged to scour maps to seek out their next wilderness experience, or as Ardmore wrote, “as we trawled through the mesmerising landscape of the digitalised Alps our eyes shone with the prospect of seeing those grand masses of orange and blue as real bluffs and icefalls against a real southern sky”. The spirit of exploration is clearly in good hands.