Thursday, 18 September 2014

Kiwi skier rescues 40kg sheep high on a mountain

Pete Oswald
Alpine Rescue: Marlborough skier Pete Oswald rescues a 40kg sheep stranded high up the Hector Mountains, in Otago. 
People often ask me, " Why are you so happy or proud to be a New Zealander?"  I usually mention that we are close to the land, care for everything about us and dare to be different. This story about a skier rescuing a 40kg stranded sheep, picking it and skiing with it down to safety, epitomizes what it is to be a Kiwi.

A snowballing sheep will become the stuff of legend for semi-professional skier Pete Oswald.
The Marlborough man carried out one of the world's few sheep rescues on skis after an exhausted ewe slid into his life.
He was high in the Hector Mountains, Otago, on a photo shoot for Snow Action Magazine with Southern Lakes Heliski when the woolly story unfolded.
Oswald, 29, and photographer Dan Power were on the last run of the day setting up for a shoot when a piece of snow fell from the slope and hit Oswald's ski boot, causing him to take a backward glance at the slopes.
He saw a "little bundle of wool" tumbling head over feet over a rocky ridge and down the mountain.
The sheep landed 100 metres from Oswald and, fearing the sheep had been killed, he skied over for a closer look.
"The sheep's head was bent underneath its body. I put the sheep upright and it was bleeding from the nose. It was trying to walk but was totally exhausted. It wouldn't have survived if I had left it there."
Oswald squatted down and lifted the 40-kilogram ewe on to his legs and skied slowly down the slope.
"It was really hard to ski, there was a lot of wool in my face when I carried it."
He nearly fell over a few times travelling down the mountain before leaving the lucky sheep on a flat, grassy area where it could feed. The sheep slowly walked off unperturbed by its snowy ride.
His father, John Oswald, a former farmer from the Awatere Valley, told him the sheep could have been up there since the start of winter. Its wool had not been shorn and was inches deep.
"They are pretty resourceful animals," Oswald said. The sheep was fully grown, a female and was tagged.
"It's a bit of a yarn. It is definitely the oddest thing I have found skiing."
Oswald is a semi-professional skier and cinematographer based in Innsbruck, Austria.
During his career he has seen mountain goats, marmots in France and bears in North America but the sheep is his favourite find. Thanks to the Marlborough Express for permission to run excerpt from this article.

South America, Peru, Other Ranges, Ascents on Pumasillo Group, Cordillera Vilcabamba

American Alpine Journal
Section Climbs And Expeditions
Volume 16 Issue 2
Copyright Date 1969
Page 436
Climbs And Expeditions
Ascents in Pumasillo Group, Cordillera Vilcabamba. Our expedition included Dick Cowan, Paul Green, Bob McKerrow, Peter Goodwin, Mac Riding, Allen Higgins and myself as leader, all of New Zealand, together with John Lawrence from the North Carolina Outward Bound School, who joined us from June 8 to July 2. We established Base Camp at feet in a valley north of the Pumasillo basin on June 2. The Indians call this valley Río Raccachacca. (To our knowledge this valley is not on any map.) Our chief objectives were the ascents of Cúpula and Torayoc (called "Nameless Aguja" by Ruedi Schatz in Mountain World, 1960-61) and an attempt on the northern approaches to Pumasillo. The following ascents were made: Cúpula* (c. 17,000 feet), south ridge on June 6 by McNatty, Green, McKerrow; La Aguja* (c. 17,500 feet), south ridge on June 7 by McNatty, Green, McKerrow; Cima Rocallosa (16,810 feet), 3rd ascent, via west ridge on June 6 by Riding, Cowan, Goodwin, west ridge on July 15 by McNatty, Green, and west ridge on August 13 by Higgins, Green; "Tuto Orcco"* (c. 17,000 feet), south face on July 13 by Higgins, Cowan, McKerrow, Lawrence; Torayoc* (c. 18,000 feet), north ridge on June 16 by McNatty, Green, Riding, Goodwin, north ridge on June 21 by Lawrence, McKerrow, and east face (new route) and down north ridge on July 15 by Cowan, Goodwin; Mellizos (c. 18,400 feet), North Peak, north face (new route) on July 17 by Lawrence, McKerrow and ascent by north face and traverse on June 19 by Higgins, Cowan; Mellizos, South Peak, 3rd ascent, via east ridge on July 14 by McNatty, Green (and 2nd ascent of Low Peak via east face on same day); Ñu Ñu (c. 16,500 feet), both East and West Peaks from the west (new route) on June 19 by McNatty, Green, Goodwin, Riding; Kaiko (c. 17,500 feet), 3rd ascent, via north ridge (new route) and traverse on June 21 by McNatty, Green, Goodwin, from the east on July 15 by Higgins, McKerrow; Redondo (c. 17,700 feet), 3rd ascent, via west ridge on June 21 by McNatty, Green, Goodwin and on June 15 by McKerrow, Higgins, 1st traverse and retraverse by east and north ridges (attempting south ridge of Torayoc) on July 31 by Higgins, Goodwin, Cowan; "Pico Ccucho"* (c. 19,500 feet), north face on June 26 by Lawrence, McKerrow; "Nevado Lazona"* (c. 19,800 feet), north ridge on June 26 by Lawrence, McKerrow; "Nevado Reyerta"* (c. 16,500 feet), east ridge on July 1 by Cowan, Higgins; "Pacca Orcco"* (c. 16,800 feet), west ridge on July 18 by McNatty, Green, McKerrow; Nevado Blanco (17,790 feet), north ridge (new route) on July 20 by McNatty, Green, McKerrow; "Pico Granito"* (c. 16,000 feet), south face on July 26 by Cowan, Goodwin, Higgins; "Copo de Nieve"* (c. 19,200 feet), west ridge on August 3 by Cowan, Goodwin; "Nevado Fortaleza"* (c. 19,300 feet), east ridge on August 3 by Cowan, Goodwin. Pico Ccucho is at the junction of the ridges from Pumasillo, Mitre and the Mellizos and Lazona lies between Ccucho and Pumasillo. Northwest of Ccucho are Fortaleza and then Copo de Nieve and finally Mitre. Torayoc lies northeast of Redondo. Pico Granito is north of the pass north or Ñu Ñu. Tutu Orcco is just west of Nevado Blanco. Northeast of Nevado Blanco lies La Aguja and to the east of this, Nevado Reyerta. Pacca Orcco lies east of Cupula.
On the North Pumasillo Glacier we established Camp I at 17,000 and Camp II at 19,200 feet. We got onto the north ridge and traversed Pico Ccucho and Nevado Lazona. Lawrence and McKerrow reached a point some 200 feet below the summit of Pumasillo but 600 feet away in distance. They were blocked by a huge gap in the ridge of several hundred feet; beyond there were about five rock towers with huge, overhanging snow caps, the final tower being the true summit. With unstable, south-facing snow into the gap we abandoned the attempt on June 27. Apart from the climbing we filmed the first ascent of Torayoc, sketched and explored valleys east and north of Cúpula and south and east of the Raccachacca. We had fine settled weather during June and July but poor weather in August when we left Base Camp on August 20. We hope to produce a sketch map based on D.A. Mackay’s map with more detail and local Indian names. The railway from Cuzco goes through Santa Teresa to the terminus at Chaullay on the Río Vilcanota. From there via Hacienda Paltybamba and Huancacalle on the Río Vilcabamba we travelled on a well-used mule trail into a valley the Indians call Pillaupata and ascended a high pass, which took us into the Río Raccachacca. (The Raccachacca drains into the Vilcabamba much lower than Huancacalle, but there is no feasible route for mules to the mouth of the Raccachacca.) The mule trip from Chaullay to Huancacalle took a day and a half and from there to Base Camp another day and a half. The best exit is via a mule track south of Cúpula, which leads into the Río Sacsara and thence to Santa Teresa. We used this route out, taking two days.