Ed Cotter and Colin Monteath
I had dinner 2 weeks ago with Ed Cotter before leaving New Zealand. At 81, I would describe him as one of New Zealand's most remarkable men. Why ? Because of his long and active involvement in New Zealand and overseas mountaineering, adventure tourism, and the fact that he has inspired so many young New Zealanders to head to the outdoors. His own son, Guy is one of the world's leading mountaineers and has climbed Everest five times.
Ed Cotter climbed with Sir Ed Hillary in the Himalayas in 1951 and later pioneered adventure tourism in the 1950s in Fiordland. Ed told me how earlier this year he trekked up to Mt. Everest Base Camp. He was 81 years old. While trekking around base camp, some physiologists from Otago Univeristy studying how people acclimatisd to altitude aked Ed if the could they could test him. They later told him he acclimatised better than most young people.
In 1951 a New Zealand Alpine Club party of Edmund Hillary, George Lowe, Ed Cotter and Earle Riddiford climbed in the Garwhal Himalaya. Ed showed how strong and well acclimatised when he and Earl Riidiford cimbed Mukesh Parbat, a first ascent for Ed Cotter.
His climbing career saw some important first ascents in New Zealand the most famous being Maximilian Ridge of Elie de Beaumont with Ed Hillary, George Lowe and Earle Riddiford.
In 1990 when I was head of DoC at Franz Josef, in charge of the Westland National Park, I employed Ed Cotter to run the Glacier Guiding business for five months between concessions lapsing. I got close to Ed who was then 64. We did a climb of Mt. McFettrick together with Mike Browne and Chris Jillet.
Thirty years after Ed Cotter climbed the Maximilian Ridge of Elie de Beaumont with Ed Hillary, George Lowe and Earle Riddiford, I took him back to climb a peak called Mt. McFettrick. From here, Ed looks across at the Maximilian Ridge of Elie de Beaumont, the long ridge on the left.
A member of the Canterbury Mountaineering Club for over 60 years, Ed has climbed extensively throughout the Southern Alps of the South Island.
Guy Cotter, the son of Ed Cotter. This world leading mountain guide has climbed Mt. Everest five times and has the same quiet and modest peronality of his Father.
A few years back he played a prominent part in a documentary called Aspiring which is an evocative documentary about art, mountains and creativity which builds to a surprising end.
Hollyford Track Guided Walks started life back in the 1940's when Davey Gunn opened up the track for guided walks. The walk was further developed by one of Davey Gunn's assistants, Ed Cotter.
In 1959 the Hollyford Valley was incorporated into the Fiordland National Park and in the mid sixties Ed Cotter introduced boating to the walk itinerary.
Es Cotter played a key role at the funeral for Sir Ed Hillary when New Zealand's mountaineers farewelled him with the same alpine guard of honour they used for his hero's welcome home from Mt Everest in 1953 and for his wedding to Louise Rose later that year. Ed Cotter was at these three events and after Ed's death was sought after for interviews about Sir Ed.
Climbing with Ed Cotter on Mt. McFettrick, head of the Tartare Valley, Westland National Park.
In 1998 when Ed Cotter turned up for my daughters 21st birthday party in Hokitika, one of my daughters offered him her room for the night. Ed Cotter, a humble man, never wanting to bother anyone, unrolled his sleeping bag on a woodpile in our woodshed, and went to sleep. I enjoyed bringing him a cup of tea in the morning and sitting on the woodpile with him.
In his late 70s he was still crossing the main divide on 3 and 4 day pass-hoping trips. Today, he still goes out on lomg trips in the Southern Alps. Ed Cotter looks after his friends and one in particular he visits regularly in England, is George Lowe who played such a key support role on the 1953 Everest expedition, by carry loads for the final camp. George suffers from Alzheimer's disease and Ed lends as much support as possible for an old friend. My five daughters who live in various parts of NZ, love it when Ed pops in for a cup of tea, or to stay a night with them.
I first met Colin Monteath in Pioneer Hut in 1969. A few years later we were working in the professional mountain rescue team at Mt. Cook. Slowly I got to know this remarkable man with a flair for writing, photography and layout. In the late 1960s when living in Sydney he produced a rock climbing weekly called "Thrutch" and then he developed into a top class photographer.
Based in Christchurch New Zealand, Colin Monteath is a freelance photographer, writer and mountaineer who is widely travelled in the polar and high mountain regions of the world. In 1984 he started Hedgehog House photographic library and publishing company with the principal aim of " increasing the awareness of the need to look after the polar and mountain regions."
Colin Monteath in the Kelley Range, Arthurs Pass 1993. Photo: Bob McKerrow
With nearly 100 wide-ranging assignments to Antarctica spanning 26 seasons since 1973 Colin has seen more of the Seventh Continent than almost any other New Zealander. For ten seasons ( 1973-83) he operated out of New Zealand's Scott Base as the Field Operations Officer helping to co-ordinate the logistic support for New Zealand's science programme. At that time he was also in charge of New Zealand's huskies and the training of the dog handlers. With survival and rescue team training under his control, Colin helped co-ordinate the recovery operation following the 1979 DC-10 crash near Mt Erebus. Colin acted as a guide for HRH Prince Edward during his Antarctic tour in 1982. On one of this three international science expeditions to the summit of the active volcano Erebus Colin made the first descent into the inner crater. He has also been involved in numerous new routes and first ascents on Antarctic peaks and was the first New Zealander to reach the highest peak in Antarctica, Vinson Massif.
Colin Monteath (right) and Bob McKerrow taken in early August 2008
Since 1983 Colin has worked as an expedition leader, lecturer and guide for various polar cruise and adventure companies including, in recent years, Quark Expeditions, Aurora Expeditions and Adventure Network International. In 1991 Colin was on board a Soviet nuclear powered icebreaker which made the first-ever surface vessel traverse of the Arctic Ocean via the North Pole as well as a transit of the NE Passage in Siberia. In 1993 he joined an international team which skied and dog sledged across the Greenland icecap.
Colin has been an active mountaineer for 30 years. He has climbed New Zealand's highest peak 13 times by most of its routes including the notorious Caroline face and the first winter ascent of the East Ridge. In 1974 Colin was a member of the Commonwealth Andean Expedition which made 19 new routes in Peru's Cordillera Vilcanota.
Ed Cotter and Colin Monteath in when 1990 Chris Bonnington was invited to New Zealand as a 'Living Treasure'and a group of us took him climbing at the head of the Fox Glacier. (L to R) Colin Monteath, Mike Browne, Dave Bamford, Chris Bonnington, John Nankervis and Ed Cotter.
Himalayan Expeditions have played a vital role in Colin's life - Australian Annapurna III Expedition ( Nepal 1980) , New Zealand Garhwal Expedition (Shivling - India 1982), Australian Everest Expedition (North Face - Tibet 1984), New Zealand Pamirs Expedition (Pik Kommunizma USSR/Central Asia, 1986), Australian Karakorum Expedition (first ascent Chongtar - Xingjiang China 1994) and New Zealand Tibet Expedition (Gurla Mandhata , 1998). In Irian Jaya Colin worked as a guide for Adventure Consultants during a climb of Carstensz Pyramid.
As well as working throughout New Zealand, Colin has undertaken numerous photographic and magazine assignments over the years to places such as Patagonia, Greenland, Antarctica, Kenya, Siberia, Bhutan , Pakistan, Central Asia, Pakistan, India , China , Nepal and New Guinea. His pictures and stories are in demand worldwide and have appeared in such magazines as GEO (Germany), national Geographic (USA), Australian Geographic (Australia), Terre Sauvage (France ), The Geographical Magazine (UK), Conde Nast (UK, Spain etc.), Rock and Ice (USA), Action Asia (Hong Kong ), Time (USA) and Mother Nature (Japan).
Colin is regularly involved in book projects, contributing images and chapters of text to guide books, trekking books and pictorial books on the polar and mountain regions - e.g. Lonely Planet guide Antarctica. He was the principal photographer for the highly-acclaimed Reader's Digest book Antarctica - Great Stories from the Frozen Continent (Australia, 1985), co-author of Smithsonian Institution Press's Wild Ice (USA, 1990) , author New Zealand - Land of Wind ( White Star, Italy, 1996), author and photographer Antarctica - Beyond the Southern Ocean (NZ 1996) and author and publisher Hall and Ball - Kiwi Mountaineers (NZ 1997).
Before I left Christchurch in early August I had dinner with Colin, Betty and daughter Denali. Evenings at Colin and Betty's are always memorable as they meet so many people such as Wally Herbert, Chris Bonnington, the Dalai Lama, Will Steger, Lydia Bradey and a host of other climbers and explorers.
I count myself fortunate in being able to call Ed Cotter and Colin Monteath friends.