Close Call Tahr Hunting

2 of us hunting, mid winter, high alpine, everything frozen with a foot of snow on the ground, a lot of ice in the creeks, we had ice axes but no crampons, no ropes or harnesses.

Loaded packs and climbing at the 1200 metre mark above the monkey scrub.

We spied a good bull, decided to head up the opposite face to gain altitude and get in a good position for a long range shot accross the valley. It was very steep and exposed with not much scrub or tussock for handholds, the only route up was to follow a creekbed up to gain altitude. We kept climbing and it got steeper and steeper till we eventually reached what we thought was the crux point (most difficult point) of the climb.

It was a technical climb up a small 6 foot frozen waterfall. We both climbed up and then realized getting back down without falling was going to be extremely dangerous. It looked like it flattened out a bit above us so we made the call to keep climbing.

About 50 metres later it got even steeper and the only option left was to sidle around and use our ice axes to chip holes for our boots and slowly keep climbing hoping we could crest the ridge and find an alternative route down. By this stage the Bull Tahr was the last thing on our minds and we discussed setting off the EPIRB.

Male pride got the better of us and we decided to carefully keep going and hope we didnt fall. As a slip or fall would have resulted in a several hundred metre fall and certain death.

We had a rest and a snack, re hydrated and slowly made our way up. We eventually crested the ridge and managed to find another way down. We both learned risking our lives for an animal is not worth it and before we climb anything, make sure we can safely get back down the way we go up or have a good alternative route to the bottom.

  1. Matthew 7 years ago

    Or just take some crampons?

    • Author
      thekiwibushman 7 years ago

      crampons wont help if you get bluffed out…

  2. Matthew 7 years ago

    They will if you go up a piece of ice that you later need to climb down.

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