What do you love most about climbing?
I love the solace and beauty of wilderness and am inherently drawn to the challenges of climbing high rugged peaks. I thrive on sustained endurance exercise, the technical challenges of climbing and the deeper levels of connection that get forged with climbing partners.
I love to help people achieve their goals and have enjoyable experiences in what is often an intimidating and frightening environment for them. Key to this, I like to take the time to educate folks on both technical aspects and environmental appreciation. Through guiding, I have met amazing people and formed lasting friendships. Guiding has enabled me to travel and work in many different countries, having fascinating cultural experiences.
Most memorable climbing experiences?
Transalpine trip in Mt Aspiring National Park
One of my most memorable experiences was a wilderness transalpine trip in Mt Aspiring National Park where Geoff Spearpoint and I traversed the Olivine Ice Plateau and Red Mountain to Big Bay in four fantastic days; this included climbing an inconsequential but lovely peak called Little Ark.
Aoraki Mount Cook
During several occasions in my youth, I was benighted on routes and had forced bivouacs. On one such occasion, after climbing the Caroline Face of Aoraki Mount Cook with Maryanne Water and descending in falling snow, low visibility and eventually darkness, I awoke to find the roof of Empress Hut protruding above deep snow less than 100m away from where we had made our emergency snow shelter. Of the many ascents I did of Aoraki, a mountain I was obsessed with in my 20’s, the rock steps of the North Ridge rate high for a fantastic and exhilarating climbing.
Gasherbrum II & Ama Dablam
Standing alone on both the summits of Gasherbrum II and Ama Dablam on days where no other climbers were present.
The first ascent of Mt Jenkins on Wiencke Island, Antarctic Peninsula from a yacht. This wonderful trip and adventurous climb has many special memories for me: a stunning and amazing landscape; venturing into terrain where nobody had climbed before; the intimidation of a major glacier carving ice into the ocean adjacent to where we were endeavouring to land by zodiac in a sea state of high swell; the colours of a brilliant sunrise on ice burgs in the ocean directly below our climbing position; 12 pitches of steep and exhilarating snow and ice climbing; and a spectacularly steep summit ridge in one of planet earth's most stunning environments.
Outside of climbing how do you like to spend your time?
I have taken up surfing (a beginner who has a lot of fun) and am venturing into the world of kite surfing. My lifestyle includes yoga, vipassanā meditation and an enduring interest in personal transformation through techniques such as Voice Dialogue.
Check out AC Blog piece The Call of the Mountains to learn more about Mike and his passion for the mountains.
Photo - Mike ski touring on Breithorn, Italy 2018