Is this even possible? That was the question Chris sought to answer when setting out on a miniature expedition to climb Mount Earnslaw, Mount Aspiring National Park's second highest peak—and combine mountaineering, skiing, and packrafting for the first time.

The idea to combine these disciplines came after Chris discovered packrafting upon moving to New Zealand—and saw how there was so much potential to use the small, portable watercraft to connect different activities and regions within the
Southern Alps.

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The Expedition

Mountaineering // Ski Touring // Packrafting

Having an idea—and executing it, however, are two totally different beasts entirely. While the spirit of Aspiring to Aoraki’s expeditions is to discover new perspectives, both vertically through alpinism; and laterally, through packrafting—Chris needed to know if it was possible to carry the amount of gear required on rugged Southern Alps approaches; and how it would all come together on the water.

Using a climb of Mount Earnslaw (2,830m, NZ Grade 2+ in winter) seemed like the perfect opportunity put those ideas and systems to the test on smaller-scale loop, climbing the peak and then paddling the Rees River back to the car park—and provide insight for what was to come.