Hillary Expedition Grants Announced

Friday 6 March 2009, 1:47PM

A new route on a remote peak in Antarctica and a caving expedition aiming to reach record depths under New Zealand are among the challenges seven groups of adventurous kiwis are tackling in this year’s SPARC Hillary Expeditions.

Grants ranging from $5000 to $20,000 are being made to seven groups of New Zealanders who will be challenging themselves and inspiring others in the great outdoors.
SPARC awards Hillary Expedition grants every two years and previous expeditions have included crossing the Greenland ice cap, scaling two peaks in Garhwal Himalaya of India and making the first ascent of a previously unclimbed tower in the Aisen Province, Chile.

Plans for this year’s expeditions are equally awe-inspiring.

The grants are going to:

Adventure Philosophy – Lifeblood of the Nation Expedition. $5000. During 2009, the group aims to complete five exploratory first descents of New Zealand rivers; descents of five extreme and world-renowned river trips; complete five of New Zealand’s classic source to sea river journeys; descend five nationally significant river systems currently under threat of hydro-electric development; and will work on a book about their explorations.

The NZ Extreme Caving Team. $15,000. The group will spend up to three months exploring the Ellis Basin Cave System in Mt Arthur Kahurangi National Park, searching for a cave that could be more than 1200m in depth. The cave has been explored as far as an underground sump, where the whole cave goes underwater. The group will explore this with dive equipment and then use a siphon to lower the water level to allow cavers to explore the rest of the cave.

The New Zealand Nyambo Konka Expedition 2009. $10,000. This group of kiwi mountaineers will make an attempt to scale the unclimbed 6114m Nyambo Konka Peak in Sichuan province in western China. Departing in April, the expedition is expected to take four to six weeks and the climb will be made ``alpine style’’ where the climbers carry their food and equipment as they go rather than set up a line of stocked camps.

New Zealand Himalayan Big Wall Expedition. $15,000. In July-August 2009, the expedition will travel to the Charakusa Valley in Karakorum, Pakistan to attempt to free climb a significant new route on 1300m Nafees Spire, on K7. The group will spend up to 16 days living on small hanging ledges as they climb the vertical rock wall. If successful, this would be the hardest free technical route made by New Zealanders in the Himalaya. The climbers also plan to make other fast, alpine style ascents of other large walls in the area.

Inspiring Performance 2009. $20,000. Trans-Atlantic rower and South Pole explorer Jamie Fitzgerald will work with Graeme Dingle’s Foundation for Youth Development on a trek from Cape Reinga to Bluff along the 3000km Te Araroa trail with groups of New Zealand secondary students who have been identified as `at risk’. Each group of students will spend between three and five days (covering 100-150km) with Jamie and other leaders, as they take part in activities that incorporate both ‘adventure’ and ‘experiential learning’.

Examples along the way are climbing Mt Ruapehu, shearing sheep in the South Island high country, crossing Cook Strait, and public speaking at businesses in towns along the way. The trip will run between November 2009 and February 2010.

Exploration Antarctica. $20,000. The objective is the West Ridge to the summit of Mt Parry. The climbers will sail by ketch across the Southern Ocean from Argentina to Brabant Island off the Antarctic Peninsula to make the first ascent of the West Ridge, a striking 2520m long ridge which rises straight out of the sea.

Keen to beat the rest of the world in tackling this unclimbed West Ridge, the group will then return under sail across the Southern Ocean back to Argentina. A film of the expedition, which will take place over five weeks in January-February 2010, is planned.

Batura Glacier Expedition 2009. $10,000. The destination is the Batura Massif in the Karakoram Mountains of northern Pakistan. Over eight weeks, during June and July this year, the climbers will travel the length of the 57km Batura Glacier – which has not seen climbers for several decades – to attempt first ascents of the south faces of 7142m Kampire Dior and 6934m Kuk Sar.


Notes to editors

This is the third time Hillary Expedition grants have been made. Grants are made every two years.

SPARC received 33 applications for the 2008/09 round, which closed on 26 September, 2008. A shortlist of 21 applications was drawn up before a panel made the final selections.

Adventure Philosophy – Lifeblood of the Nation expedition has members based in Hokitika, Murchison and Lyttleton.

The NZ Extreme Caving Team has members based in Waitomo Caves, Napier, Nelson and Timaru.

The New Zealand Nyambo Konka Expedition has members based in Wanaka, Canada/Te Anau and West Africa.

The New Zealand Himalayan Big Wall Expedition has members based in Wanaka, Christchurch and Wellington.

The Inspiring Performance 2009 team has members based in Wellington, Auckland and Hamilton.

The Exploration Antarctica team has members based in Canada/Te Anau and Wanaka.

The Batura Glacier Expedition 2009 team has members based in Wanaka and Christchurch.