Kiwi pair plan assault on unclimbed peak

20:20, Dec 20 2012
Frost, van Dusschoten
CLIMBING HIGH: Andrei van Dusschoten, left, and Rob Frost on the summit of Mt Madeline (2,536m) in Fiordland. They will attempt to climb Anidesha Chuli in Nepal.

A $20,000 taxpayer grant could assist Christchurch's Rob Frost and Andrei van Dusschoten in raising New Zealand's colours on an unclimbed 6800m peak in Nepal next year.

In April-May Frost and van Dusschoten, along with Fox Glacier's Scott Blackford Scheele and Queenstown's Ben Dare, will attempt to summit Anidesha Chuli, also known as White Wave, in the Kanchenjunga Himalaya, north-east Nepal.

If they succeed the Government-funded Sport New Zealand, who administer Hillary Expedition Grants, will feel they have made a canny investment.

This is not only about encouraging more New Zealanders to knock off a mountain peak.

Hillary Expedition Grants, who will also splash out an additional $64,000 to send six other Kiwi teams around the globe, want to use these adventurers to motivate others.

Part of the deal is that they document and film their experiences and complete public speaking engagements in schools, universities and clubs around the country to encourage others to put down their TV remotes and get into the mountains.

Contributions of $4000 from the Mt Everest Foundation and $2000 from the NZ Alpine Club have also been made to the White Wave four, ensuring half their expedition has already been financed.

"I think it is a lot more satisfying to do this through Sport New Zealand than with some commercial sponsorship," Frost said.

"You can give back by encouraging Kiwis to try and get into the outdoors, rather than promote a brand."

The four men are preparing for an odyssey that initially involves tramping for up to 11 days just to reach base camp at 5000m - 1200m higher than Mt Cook.

Frost and van Dusschoten estimate the ascent could take around four days and are allowing another two for the descent.

It was while trekking with his partner in Nepal last year that Frost, who like van Dusschoten works for a geotechnical engineering firm in Christchurch, discovered White Wave.

His interest took-off when he learned the imposing mountain had never been conquered.

"Just by chance I came across a book in a guest house and there were some images of White Wave ... I just thought 'wow, that looks captivating - imagine coming back to climb that'," Frost said.

"That sparked a bit of research and everything we found shows it has not been unclimbed - ever."

Although some climbers scale mountains illegally - in other words don't pay fees and not have their deeds officially recognised - van Dusschoten said it was doubtful anyone had done this on White Wave.

"This one is very unlikely to have had people with the right equipment and skills in such a remote area climb it. You would find out the information if someone had climbed it."

This will be the first time Frost has climbed outside New Zealand and van Dusschoten's second.

While White Wave makes for intimidating viewing in photographs they believe the mountains they have negotiated in New Zealand provide the perfect training ground.

"We have chosen something that will be demanding for its remoteness - the fact it is unknown, rather than its technical difficulty," Frost added.

"I think it is achievable for us, given our experience. It's far from our first serious expedition. We have all climbed far more technical routes and peaks in New Zealand."


The Press