If one is fortunate, a trip to a new — or an old place — allows one to find an individual whose unique skills light up a memory that draws one back many times to relive that experience. Ant (Anthony) Harris created that personality for Meg and me on this New Zealand trip. Ant guides for Southern Alps Guiding. He conveys an authenticity and humility that is not dependent on external praise or recognition, but comes from a deep desire to perform to the highest standard of personal integrity and skill.
We met Ant at the Old Mountaineer Restaurant next to the visitor center at Mt Cook National Park. He guided us the first day on the Tasman Lake iceberg kayak trip. As one of the leading mountaineers in the Mt Cook ranges, he also leads heli tours on the Tasman Glacier. I knew after Meg and my interaction with Ant on this kayaking venture that I wanted additional time with him on the glacier. Meg was not really committed to the trip, so I went alone with an additional party of three participants. Ant carefully prepared us for the helicopter exit and entry before we drove to the small airport.
Ten minutes later, we landed on a flat place amidst deeply fissured and fractured ice. I saw no way that we would be able to navigate a course down and across this maze of mini ice slot canyons. However, Ant strapped on our crampons and skillfully picked out a path over and around, up and down the glacier. It was a fascinating venture to discover that indeed we could find a way out, so to speak.
After a while, he located a suitable crevasse to let us into an icy cavern. Chopping steps into it with his ice ax, and then belaying us down, we dipped and stooped our way through to an exit point where Ant belayed us up. It was a fascinating and invigorating experience. Once again the helicopter landed on a small flat, we took off our crampons, and followed the helicopter entry lesson Ant had taught us earlier.
After returning to the restaurant, we invited Ant to lunch, and enjoyed his stories of putting up rock climbing routes in the late seventies and early eighties in Australia, when climbing flourished there much as it did in Yosemite in the late sixties and seventies. You can read more about these climbs at his blog antsclimbingspace.blogspot