Page:Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.djvu/354

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232
PICTURESQUE NEW ZEALAND

Tasman Glacier, and it is not surprising, therefore, that by some judges Sefton is preferred to Aorangi as a view.

The supreme ambition of quite a number of Southern Alpine climbers has been the ascent of Mount Cook, but comparatively few have scaled it. Aorangi is difficult to climb, and there are times when the guides at the Hermitage will not undertake the ascent owing to dangerous ice conditions. From the hotel the average round-trip length of Mount Cook ascents is from four to five days, but as weather conditions are uncertain a week or two may be required sometimes. From Cook the sublimest view of the Alps is obtained. On clear days even Mount Aspiring, a hundred miles away, is visible.

The Hooker River Valley, into which we were to descend, was dark with glacial accumulations. For the greater part of its length it was partly filled by the Hooker Glacier, seven and one fourth miles long, and to a smaller extent by the Mueller Glacier, eight miles long, which flowed into it at the base of Sefton. The descent into Hooker Valley from Ball Pass was through a forbidding-looking cleft of rocky chaos, down formidable snow steeps, and over wild waters emerging from snow tunnels and caves.

Before beginning the descent, my guide placed a rope around himself and me. This surprised me, for I had been told that we should encounter no ice. I divined the Maori's intentions, however, when he told me to sit on the snow in front of him. We were to toboggan down terrifying slopes on our trousers! The guide was to be