Friday, December 21, 2007

Ebenezer Teichelmann - Keeping mountaineering alive in New Zealand (Part 2)

Here is the second part of the story that I posted yesterday.


The Rev. Newton visited Waiho some months after the 1904 trip on one of his regular parish visits. After the Church service he and Alec Graham poured over the photographs of the trip, reliving it once more. For their 1905 expedition, Teichelmann and Newton chose the Cook River. Charlie Douglas and Arthur P Harper had reached the terminal face of the La Perouse in 1894, but the upper reaches were little known.

Ten days before Newton and Teichelmann arrived, Alec Graham and Arthur Woodham started packing gear in. They took horses as far as Diggers' huts, which is about a mile upstream from the present bridge. After spending a number of wet days packing up the valley, the pair established a base camp about 2 miles above Tony's Rock and then returned to meet the others.(26)

Newton, Teichelmann and Alec Graham left Arthur Woodham at the base camp to do some gold prospecting while they pushed on up to the La Perouse Glacier. After a spell of bad weather and a brief excurion up the La Perouse Glacier to check the route towards Harper Saddle, the party left at 2.30am on January 29 1905 (27). At first light they were at the foot of a crumbling rock ridge, heading for the pass. Nearing the top, they struck a difficult pitch, where Newton took a tumble, but fortunately the impact of the fall was cushioned by his swag full of sleeping bags. Alec Graham was a little bemused by Teichelmann's reaction.
The Little Doctor was funny over this for as he went to help Mr. Newton, he whispered to me " I warned you, Alec, that Newton was impetuous sometimes." (28)

They reached Harper Saddle about 3.15am, descended to the Hooker Glacier and camped at the present day site of Gardiner Hut. It was getting towards the end of Newton's holiday and he felt he needed to get back to take church services the following Sunday. Neither of them wanted to go back by the same route so it appears that Teichelmann talked Newton into going up to the bivouac on Haast ridge with the view of crossing the saddle between Silberhorn and Malispina (now called Clarke Saddle) and then back to their camp in the Cook River, below the La Perouse Glacier. Well pleased with the first crossing of Harper's Saddle, the party left next morning for the Hermitage to be warmly welcomed by the McDonald family. Waiting for Dr Teichelmann was Scottish climber, R.S. Low, who was hoping that the Doctor would join him on a planned ascent of Mt. Cook by Zurbriggen's route. Jim Wilson, author of 'Aorangi', writes that Newton should have smelt a rat at this, but protests he went up in all innocence in an attempt to get back to his waiting parishioners.(30)

Dr. Teichelmann always made a point when making these trips into the mountains, of acquainting his wife of his safe arrival.(29) So next morning while Alec Graham rode to Glentanner Station to send some telegrammes, Guides Jack Clarke and Peter Graham left with the remaining three climbers for Ball Hut.

The next day, February 3 1905, the group camped at the bivouac site on the Haast ridge, and went up to Glacier Dome for a look at the route to Clarke saddle.

"Here Teichelmann proceeded to do some fast talking. All his enthusiasm was aroused at the thought of an ascent of Cook, rearing so magnificently across the Plateau. He hated the thought of slipping back to the Coast without attempting such a climb. On the other hand he could hardly desert Newton. He enlisted the help of the guides, and Newton was gravely told that the saddle he wished to cross was very difficult, that it would take too long to cross into the La Perouse. Newton suspected it was a put-up job but, he writes. "there was nothing for it but to submit to their plan." So tame a submission suggests that the call of his Sunday services were all but drowned out by the music of Cook's shining ridges." (31)

The next morning at 4 am, they set off to reconnoitre the route for the following day. On reaching Glacier Dome they descended to the Grand Plateau to the foot of Zurbriggen's route, and climbed up the steep 3000 foot route, with Clarke and Graham alternating withthe step cutting. What had started out as a reconnaissance was turning out to be the final climb. On the summit rocks, they found the tin matchbox that Green and his guide Kaufmann had left 23 years before. At the start of the ice cap, Jack Clarke turned to the group and said," Now we shall have to consider whether we should go on or turn back - if we go on, there is every chance of our having to spend the night out, which is not advisable; if we turn back we shall no doubt be able to get off the mountain before darkness."

The Doctor said, " Well, Clarke, we will leave that to you." Jack said, "I don't think that is quite fair."
However, the Doctor repeated, " No, we will leave it to you Clarke, you are the leader.(32)

Clarke didn't hesitate, and instead of answering, headed up the ridge to the summit.

For eight years since arriving in Hokitika, Dr. Teichelmann had woken up on fine days to a superb view of Mt. Cook from his home in Hampden Street. On his medical forays through South Westland, he would have seen Mt. Cook from virtually every known viewpoint. He wanted to get to the top. So when Clarke headed upwards towards the summit, he cheered spontaneously together with Newton, Low and Peter Graham. None of them really wanted to turn back and were now prepared to throw caution to the wind.

Within 100 feet from the top, Clarke let Graham cut the final steps to the summit. This was the third ascent of Mount Cook. Peter Graham recalls the moment:

"Everybody was delighted at gaining the summit. The Little Doctor was enormously
pleased for my sake and told many of his
friends, 'I believe, Peter, you know, led to the summit.' He was always most
generous with his praise and made me feel
as though he regarded me as his special
protege." (33)

With evening coming on, they had little time to admire the view from the top. The view was magnificent - almost beyond description, recalls Peter Graham. Cook chronicler, Jim Wilson, refers to the friendly interaction that was a feature of the relationship between Teichelmann and Newton:

"Then they began the long descent. A vivid sunset bathed the surrounding peaks in pink light as they climbed down the summit rocks, and the enthusiastic Teichelmann quite forgot the seriousness of their situation as he excitedly exclaimed over the beautiful sight. There was always genial byplay going on between Teichelmann and Newton, and on this occasion, as Graham recalls, the vicar had gently to admonish the doctor: " Now, now, Doctor, we haven't time to stop and admire everything; it's getting late, we must get down."(34)

At 9pm they reached their packs which had been left earlier in the day on a rocky outcrop just above the junction of Zurbriggen's Ridge and the Bowie Ridge. Here they spent a sleepless night huddled together, and the next morning met a very relieved Alec Graham at the bottom of the ridge, who had come to meet them. They headed down to Ball Hut and then out to the Hermitage.
Now that the climb was over, Newton's was concerned about his parishoners and planned a quick dash over the Copland Pass. A sudden storm prevented a quick crossing of the Copland, and Newton was resigned to missing out on yet another Sunday's sermon. When the weather cleared, Alec Graham, Teichelmann and Newton returned to the West Coast via the Copland Pass.(35)


Flushed with the success of their 1905 expedition, the West Coast trio decided on the Cook River again and the unclimbed Mt La Perouse as their main objective. They were joined by the Scottish climber, Mr. R.S. Low. This time another prospector Charles Anderson, helped Alec Graham set up a base camp, a little higher than last year's one. Teichelmann, Low and Newton joined up with Alec Graham in late January and they swagged up Cook River to the La Perouse Glacier.A high camp was made on the spur which separates Gulch Creek and La Perouse Glacier.

It dawned fine on February 1, 1906, at high camp. The party of four left just before 4am and soon crested the main ridge. They had to traverse around two steep dips on the ridge before reaching the col and the ridge leading up to the summit of La Perouse. The climb was straight forward although a fair number of steps were required. It was a thrill for Alec Graham who recalled his feelings of that moment." It was my first real mountain, and a 10,000 foot virgin eak." (36)

There was plenty of time to linger on the top and take in the stunning view, especially of neighbouring Mt. Cook. Newton carefully studied an unclimbed route on Mt. Cook, known today as Earle's route. And as they sat on the summit, one wonders if they thought themselves a wierd bunch. A Scot, an Englishman, an Australian and a New Zealander sitting on a peak named after a French navigator.
Teichelmann, Newton and Alec Graham had forged not only friendships but a formidible climbing combination that was on the brink of greatness.

They descended by a different route by way of a snow slope on the La Perouse Glacier side. This was the route used in 1948 by the Ruth Adams rescue party. A few days of bad weather followed and then the group explored the La Perouse Glacier. From here they climbed up to a col on the Balfour Range, which was opposite Katies Col across the valley and then climbed a small rock peak on the divide side. It is hard to tell which peak this was. Was it Belmont, Vanguard or a rock pinnacle in the vicinity ? Dr. Teichelmann's much travelled full plate camera weighing 45 pounds, was carried to this spot. Alec Graham, who spent much of his early guiding years carrying the doctor's camera best describes his passion.

" The Doctor was very thorough in everything he undertook and it took a long time, sometimes. to get just the right composition he wanted. He never failed to ask me to look through the viewfinder to see if I could suggest any improvement, for he always liked me to help him. When on any sharp peak I put the rope on him as he was so interested in getting what he wanted that he was liable to forget where he was standing when he had his head under the focussing cloth. Then, when he was satisfied with the composition of the picture he was taking, there was the right aperture and time for the exposure to be carefully adjusted and checked. Mr. Newton would sometimes get a little impatient with the Doctor for taking so long. The doctor would reply, ' I'm not going to let Alec carry the camera all the way up here and then make a mess of it. The difference between you and me, Newton, is that is that you are a photographic climber and I am a climbing photographer."(36)

When the weather cleared at their base camp on the La Perouse Glacier on February 8, 1906, they readied themselves for the next objective - St. David's Dome, now called Mt. Hicks. Unfortunately the Doctor had bruised his heel and elected not to join. It was late in the afternoon when Newton, Low and Alec Graham left for a higher bivouac below the first ice fall on the La Perouse Glacier. That night as they ate their meal, Newton remarked how he missed the Doctor's company, but said it was rather nice having a meal without the Doctor's eye on you. Graham and Newton had wolf-like appetites, while the Doctor was a small eater and used to jokingly remark that it was no wonder they had such heavy swags.

On February 8 the party got away at 2.30 am on a very warm morning. Following their previous route through the first icefall, they turned right on to a long snow ridge running down from Mt. Hicks. ( referred to in Anderson's "Jubilee History of South Canterbury" as the North West arete, joining main west ridge higher up).
They struck soft snow on the lower part of the ridge but step cutting was necessary higher up. At the top of the north-west ridge, they struck a rock face which provided excellent climbing to the main west ridge. The final section of ridge to the summit was climbed in gusty conditions. They reached the top at 11 am and descended by the same route.

Meanwhile back at base camp, Dr. Teichelmann was having an enjoyable day with his camera and the injury to his heel was improving. He was obviously pleased with the first ascent of Mt. Hicks by his team mates and congratulated them warmly and enthusiasticly on their return.

Mr. Newton and Dr. Teichelmann were running out of holiday time so returned to their respective jobs in Ross and Hokitika. (37)

Teichelmann was a great admirer and friend of the explorer Charlie Douglas. They had met on numerous occasions and Douglas had both confided in and given Teichelmann diaries.(38) In the spring of 1906, Charlie Douglas suffered his first stroke up the Paringa River, and was carefully ferried by friends back to Bruce Bay, where a steamer took him to Hokitika for treatment. Back in Hokitika he was given the best of medical care under the guidance of Teichelmann. From that date, until Douglas' death in 1916, Teichelmann kept a close watch over Charlie. A year or so later Mr Explorer Douglas had a second stroke, which left him unable to talk. Teichelmann advised his old friend Arthur P. Harper it would be kinder not to see Charlie as he would be upset at not being able to talk to him.(39)


The next year 1907, saw Mr. Newton's time in New Zealand drawing to a close. It was to be the last of five annual expeditions that Newton, Teichelmann and Alec Graham had been on together. This time, Newton had a much longer holiday at his disposal, and persuaded the Doctor to go with him up the Fox Glacier. They had long fancied the idea of putting a camp on Pioneer ridge and using it as a base for climbing the many accessible peaks flanking the neve.

As was usual practice, food and equipment were dispatched by ship, this time on the "Jane Douglas" a couple of months before the trip started. Mr. Newton and Dr. Teichelmann hired Herman Osmers from Ross, to go south and help Alec Graham to pack food up the Fox Glacier. Herman Osmers biked from Ross to Waiho on January 7 1907. (It is interesting to note that Herman Osmers, great-grandson Ted Brennan lives in Ross and is an active tramper and climber.)

Today climbers can drive from Hokitika to Franz Josef on an hour and a half, get a helicopter to Pioneer Hut, all within two hours of leaving Hokitika. It took Osmers, Alec Graham (with the later arrival of Teichelmann and Newton) 14 days from the time the first member left Ross until they were established in a high camp on Pioneer ridge, ready for the first climb. This entailed a number of packing trips up Fox Glacier.

The party of four were well settled in their high camp at the foot of Pioneer Ridge by January 20, ready to start the climbing programme. As both Teichelmann and Newton were a little out of form, they elected to climb with their cameras up what they called the Buttress, which is part of the Pioneer Ridge. (40) From the top of the buttress they got some excellent panoramas of the Alps and neves. Herman Osmers left the party at this stage and returned to Ross. A few days of bad weather followed, and some trips to lower camps before they were ready for the first climb, Mt. Halcombe.

The reason for climbing Mt Halcombe was due to its location on the range between the Fox and Franz neve, and the view it afforded to Glacier Peak and Mt.Douglas. They left shortly after 5am on January 26 and headed for the saddle on the seaward side of Mt. Halcombe. They had difficulty getting across a large bergschrund and after a long stint of step cutting finally reached the saddle. With the heavy full-plate camera, and Newton's lighter Sandison camera, the party of three carried over 50 pounds of camera gear. This slowed them down on the climb to the top, which they reached later that morning. From the summit the Doctor was bubbling with excitement as he set up the full-plate camera. The routes up Glacier Peak and Mt Douglas were carefully studied by the trio. By 2pm they were back in the camp preparing for another climb. That evening as they curled up in their sleeping bags and watched the darkness descend, Dr. Teichelmann, moved by the beauty, quoted these lines from Longfellow:

"The day is done and the darkness
Falls from the wings of night
Like a feather is wafted downwards
From an eagle in its flight."(41)

The billy was boiling shortly after 2am and they set out at 4am. The route up Glacier Peak was initially close in to the rock spur running down from the north shoulder, before cutting out towards a line up to the summit which was reached at 7.55am. (42) They were all quite surprised at the ease with which they climbed Glacier Peak, for it had a fearsome reputation from the east. Again using Newton's camera, they took numerous summit shots. Douglas Peak looked impressive from where they stood and it was agreed they would attempt it tomorrow.

The next morning they followed the route from the previous day up Glacier Peak and were soon on the slopes of Mt. Douglas. Two gendarmes presented difficulties, then they struck another rocky pitch which they slithered up a chimney-like crack. There were further difficulties along the final ridge to the summit which was reached at 1.45pm.

This was a brilliant first ascent of a mountain which was up to then regarded as being very difficult - if not impossible. It was their third first ascent in as many days. Newton regarded Mt. Douglas as his finest climb in New Zealand and Alec Graham wrote, " To me, it still takes first place."(43)

After this climb of Douglas, they descended down the glacier in threatening weather to get more food and to enjoy the hospitality of the Williams family at Weheka (Fox). They were back in the top camp on February 3.

Their next objective was the beautiful Mt. Torres, a peak which is a continuation of the western arete of Tasman, lying between the Fox and Balfour Glacier. (44)

With the last quarter of the moon to guide them, they set off at 3.40am from their camp on the Pioneer Ridge on February 4. They made good time across the Fox neve and began climbing up towards the saddle ( now named Katies Col) at 4.45. An hour later they were on the saddle where they had a second breakfast. Finding a route up to the rocks on the arete was difficult. After a few false leads they found a 60 foot coulior which took them on to the rocky part and then the arete. Snow conditions were better on the Fox side of the ridge and it required negotiating some slabby rock and two gendarmes. From here there were two snow aretes, the first taking considerable time to negotiate as it was new snow on old. Alec Graham led the Doctor and Mr. Newton to the summit which was reached at 12.15 pm. Handshakes all round for the fourth first ascent of the trip. The two photographers pulled smaller cameras from out of their swags, and captured the moment.(45)

The descent and the plod in soft snow back to the top camp took seven and a half hours.

It rained the following day, and on February 6, they checked out the route to Pioneer Pass. Dr. Teichelmann's holidays were coming to an end so he decided to cross the divide to the Hermitage and return home via Christchurch after a look at the Christchurch Exhibition.

The night was hot and they got very little sleep. As they were nodding off, the alarm rang. Alec Graham recalls an uncharacteristic, but mild oath from the Doctor. " Damn that alarm," he muttered.(46) At 4 am they left for Pioneer Pass and reached the pass in under two hours. Although Newton didn't talk about it in his diary, it is possible that he reflected on what would be the last time that the Teichelmann/Graham/ Newton team would climb together on the West Coast.

As is quite common at that time of year, they had trouble with route finding around large berschrunds, and were constantly threatened by avalanches. Alec Graham's pack fell down a crevasse as he was letting it slide down a slope so he would be free for step-cutting. As he was the lightest it was decided to lower Dr. Teichelmann down. About this time Mr Newton received a nasty blow on the shoulder from a piece of falling ice.
They were under bombardment from falling ice and it would've taken just one large piece to kill a person.

Meanwhile a small shelf on which Teichelmann was standing on in the crevasse gave way, and he slipped winding himself badly and cutting his mouth and lip. The other two jumped into the crevasse to seek shelter from the falling ice and snow, and walked along the bottom to find a route out. They found Alec Graham's pack after much difficulty. It had been a difficult morning but there were laughs all round over the number of incidents. From here the route took them over Haast Ridge into the Grand Plateau, to Glacier Dome reaching it at 2.10pm. They then descended to Haast Bivouac where Newton and Graham left their packs as they would return this way in a few days time. A few hour later they reached Ball Hut.(46)

After a night at Ball Hut the trio reached the Hermitage. Here Newton and Teichelmann were in their element being both sophisticated and men of the world.
Names and occupations were important to Newton and he records details meticulously in his diary. It seems that Teichelmann spent much of his time promoting the beauties of the West Coast. " The Doctor fell in for a lot of good natured teasing about his praise for his beloved West Coast scenery," writes Alec Graham.(47)

Teichelmann set off for Christchurch, thence and later Hokitika, while Newton and Graham continued climbing.
The Doctor was very keen to see the International Exhibition held at Hagley Park. A long time friend, W.A. Kennedy first got to know Teichelmann around this time. " Among the photographic exhibits adorning its walls were displays of many whole-plate photographs of Westland scenery bearing his name. The outstanding beauty and excellence of these photographs attracted my attention so tremendously that I longed to know the man who was responsible for them." (48)

While Teichelmann was in Christchurch, Newton and Graham pushed back over Pioneer Pass in bad weather and down to Chancellor Hut. The pair went on to climb Haast, Lendenfeld, Bristol Top and Conway Peak, all first ascents.(48)

It must have been with a heavy heart that Alec Graham said goodbye to Mr.Newton at Waiho. Later that year Newton returned to England, thus ending a superb list of climbing feats by the greatest climbing trio in the history of New Zealand mountaineering.

Teichelmann was a busy man. His medical and surgical work kept him fully occupied, but he still found time for his conservation work, building a Carnegie Public Library and all other philanthropic and charitable work. The New Zealand Gazette of 19 September announced that Surgeon Captain E. Teichelmann was promoted to the rank of Surgeon Major in the New Zealand Medical Corps.

Apart from all his work Ebenezer and Mary Teichelmann were great hosts. Photographs from that era show the Teichelmann's at picnic's, garden parties, opening of public libraries and it seemed that their door was always open. He was a close friend of G.J Roberts, the Chief Surveyor for Westland and Charlie Douglas was a regular caller when he was in Hokitika. Mountaineers frequently visited the Teichelmann's such as A.P Harper, W.A. Kennedy and of course among the regular visitors were the Graham brothers. Alec Graham recalls returning from Christchurch with his brother Jim in 1907 and popping in to the Teichelmann's. " We had a most interesting evening looking over the photographs he had taken on our recent trip to Fox. We also talked over plans for his next holiday. He told me he had practically decided that our next trip would be up the Waiatoto Valley," writes Alec Graham.(49)


Dr. Teichelmann departed Hokitika aboard the small coastal ship, the S.S. "Jane Douglas" at 8.30 pm on January 17, 1908. This coastal boat ran two monthly trips as far south as Jackson Bay, delivering mail and supplies to remote communities. After a difficult and tiring year, it must have been a relief for him to have break from his hectic life as Medical Superintendant.

Aboard he had notes from the diary Charlie Douglas had given him, giving details of the Waitoto. The following day he was moved to write about the land that was so special to him:
"On the way down the coast the steamer is never very far out at sea, and the great mountain ranges forming the Southern Alps present one of the greatest sights imaginable. The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are seen falling from the summits of the main range almost down to sea level, passing great rocky peaks, and ending in forest of tropical luxuriance. Prominent among the peaks visible from the sea are Mts. Cook, Tasman, Elie de Beaumont, and Sefton, the latter showing up particularly well."(50)

Next morning the ship called at Bruce Bay, Paringa and then Jackson Bay where they spent a night at anchor. The next day Dr Teichelmann disembarked at Okuru, which was some 20 miles from the mouth of the Waiatoto. At this stage Alec Graham and Denis (Din) Nolan were up the Waiatoto cutting a track. With the help of Matt Nolan the Doctor used pack horses to carry the expedition's food and equipment from Okuru to Eggling's old homestead, some two and a half miles up the Waiatoto valley, which served as a campsite.

Alec Graham and Din Nolan spent several days cutting a track to within six miles of the Therma Glacier. A few days later Teichelmann and Matt Nolan teamed up with Alec and Din at Base Camp, after nearly capsizing in a leaky one-oared dinghy whilst river crossing en route to base camp. They were fortunate in having Charlie Douglas's diaries for in one of them he expressed regret at having chosen the right bank of the river instead of the left (western bank). Teichelmann's party took Douglas's advice.

When inspecting the equipment Teichelmann had brought, Alec Graham got quite a shock to see the Doctor's supply of cameras and photographic equipment.
There was the familiar 50lb full plate camera, and the small film camera, but in addition he had a fairly large Panorama camera and a Steroscopic, both fairly bulky. " Do you think there are too many, Alec ?" he asked. " You know, Newton is not with us this year and we can play round with them to our heart's content," said the Doctor.

On January 22, still with pack horses, they continued up the Waiatoto. The pack horses were dispensed with by January 25 and from there they carried heavy loads up the valley which become increasingly difficult. Three days later, Alec and Din reached the snout of the Therma Glacier and reported there would be no problems in finding a camp site and that Mt Aspiring looked beautiful, but unpromising from a climber's point of view. The advance party returned to join up with the Doctor who had been taking advantage to record the incredible beauty on film.

The last day of January dawned clear, and the party swagged through the upper river gorge, and on reaching the glacier's snout, set up a high camp. Here Teichelmann had his first full view of Mt. Aspiring from the terminus of the Therma Glacier upwards. He was inspired. It is likely he would have recalled Charlie Douglas description of it - "as being among the grandest and most magnificent scenery he had known." (51)

While Din Nolan set up base camp, Alec and Teichelmann went up to the cirque and found the rocks cliffs inpenetrable. They decided the right-hand icefall was out so the only option was up the left-hand icefall.

After a comfortable night's sleep, they set off early on February 1. Dr. Teichelmann describes the route taken:

" We made a vain attempt to get through the left icefall, tried the rocks in one place but found them smooth and ice worn, and so decided to retrace and ascend a rocky peak at our left which formed the shoulder to Glacier Dome, a peak on the divide some distance north of Aspiring."

At 3.30pm, they reached the summit of Glacier Dome. From here they had a superb view of Mt. Aspiring. The Doctor felt it could possibly take a week to climb Aspiring and with his holidays drawing to a close, he
decided to return to Hokitika. He was delighted with the time he had devoted to photographing much of this virgin country and knew his contribution would add to Charlie Douglas survey work.

Alec Graham picked-out a route on Mt. Aspiring and told the Doctor he felt they should have another attempt at it. Back at camp that night he raised the issue again with Teichelmann. Alec Graham recalls the moment:

"The Doctor looked at me for a long time with a look I knew so well and then he said, I have been thinking over it a lot. I want to stay and can quite imagine how you feel, but Alec, our work in life is the most important thing and I have promised to be home at a certain date. If there is a change in the weather we could easily be flood-bound for a week in this valley, and even when I get out to Okura (Okuru) I still have five days travelling and a lot of rivers to ford before I can get back to Hokitika and could easily be held up at some of the rivers on the way." (52)

Alec Graham travelled back as far as Waiho with Dr Teichelmann. Here they met Mr. Greville and a survey party carrying out a topical survey of the Franz Josef Glacier region. The Doctor and Alec accompanied the party to the top of Alec Knob, and this is when Mr. Greville gave the name 'Ebenezer' to the next peak along the ridge towards Mt. Moltke. Teichelmann was much amused. "Fancy a peak being saddled with a name like 'Ebenezer", he chuckled. (53)

Although there is no record of Dr. Teichelmann talking to Charlie Douglas about the recent trip up the Waiatoto, it would be inconceivable to think that the Doctor did'nt have a good yarn with him about the trip as Douglas was living in Hokitika at the time. This was after he was recovering from his first stroke and before his crippling second stroke.


As the population of the greater Hokitika area and South Westland gradually increased, Westland Hospital grew to provide a comprehensive medical service. Dr. Teichelmann's work load and involvement in other voluntary organisations, seemed to increase.
In 1909 his alpine holiday was shorter than usual.

In early February he started with Guide Alec Graham at Waiho by spending a few days photographing the area. For this trip, they planned to go up Goat Path, cross Graham Saddle and onto the Hermitage. On their way up Goat Path Ridge, they found a tin of milk and another of pineapple that Teichelmann and Newton had stashed under a rock in 1902.(54)

At the Hermitage the Doctor was delighted to meet Dr. Vollman, an archaeolgist from Peru who was a member of the Swiss and Austrian Alpine Clubs. (55) The two Doctors enjoyed each others company and it was by no accident that Dr Vollman and his guide Peter Graham, Dr. Teichelmann and Alec Graham, Darby Thomson and his two male clients, all arrived at Malte Brun Hut together. You can imagine the scene at Malte Brun Hut as they downed countless cups of tea; Vollman and Teichelmann discussing 'worldly matters' and switching from German to English at will, the three West Coast Guides talking of climbing and their homes and families on the West Coast and Thomson's clients wondering what they had struck.

Early the next morning, February 15 1909, the two Doctors with brothers Alec and Peter Graham as guides set out for Mt. Green. Darby Thomson and clients accompanied them until they turned left off Tasman Glacier for the ridge onto Mt. Green. Darby and party headed for Hochstetter Dom.

For Teichelmann it must have been one of his most enjoyable days in the Southern Alps. It was a beautiful day, not a breath of wind. They climbed Mt. Green and then Mt. Walter. He was now 50 years old and in good health. With him were his two protogee, Alec and Peter Graham who he had nurtured and encouraged to be mountain guides. Peter Graham couldn't help but notice his joy " The two doctors were greatly enjoying the climb, and both being keen photographers, they were making the best use of their time on both peaks. We boiled the alpine cooker for tea on the top of Mt. Walter, and had a picnic lunch, spending more than an hour the view of the Tasman valley and the surrounding peaks, with Malte Brun rising grandly across the valley. My eye was ever drawn towards the view of the west, for immediately below were the Spencer Glacier, the western slopes of Mt. Elie de Beaumont, and the camping spot of that expedition years before when with Dr. teichelmann and Arthur Woodham, I had made my first real contact with the mountains."

An exciting glissade took then quickly back to the Tasman Glacier and then Malte Brun hut. That night, Dr. Vollmann entertained all residents with a description of archaeological work in the old Inca cemetery in Peru. (55)

For Dr. Teichelmann it was a quick trip back to the Hermitage and then home to Hokitika via the Copland Pass.

Dr Teichelmann's world was shattered on May 20 1909, when Mary, his wife died suddenly of a heart problem in Hokitika at 46 years of age. Two days later she was buried at the Hokitika cemetery. (56)

A few months later, in the depth of a West Coast winter, Jack Clarke wrote to Alec Graham, saying that Mr. Earle and Captain Head were planning a trip up the Matukituki valley with the first ascent of Mt. Aspiring as the key objective. Alec Graham sought advice from Teichelmann and describes his feelings at the time.

" This was very exciting news and I was keen to go, the only sad bit about it was that it was not with the Little Doctor. I spoke to him about the offer, and he said I would be very foolish to refuse the opportunity and wished me the best of luck.(57)

Even in his darkest moment grieving for his dearly loved Mary, he was able to offer encouragement to young Alec Graham. Of the pain Ebenezer Teichelmann went through in 1909, is not known.

What is known is that he got a lot of strength from memories and future plans for journeys in the West Coast mountains. It is likely he turned to men of kindred spirit, G.J. Roberts, Chief Surveyor of Westland, the ailing Charlie Douglas and Arthur Woodham, living in Hokitika at the time. It is highly probable that in late 1909, around the time of Roberts retirement from the Survey Department, that Robert's fired Teichelmann to unravel what he considered ' the uncertain topography' at the headwaters of the Wanganui.(58)


Teichelmann's article in 1923 Alpine Club Journal throws light on the Teichelamann/Roberts relationship:

" The late Mr J.G. (sic) Roberts, Chief Surveyor and Commissioner of Crown Lands for Westland, always took interest in our climbing expeditions in Westland, and was helpful in supplying detail maps and advice. He expressed a desire that we should explore the headwaters of the Wanganui, particularly the Lambert branch, stating that the Survey Department was very uncertain about the topography of that region. In compliance with this desire, I decided to organise an expedition up the Rakaia from the east, to endeavour to cross the divide in that region, and come down the Lambert and Wanganui to the Coast."(59)

As a warm-up climb they choose Mt. Chudleigh, in the Mt. Cook region, and with guides Alec and Peter Graham, did the first ascents of the low and middle peak on February 19, 1910. (60)

Alec Graham and Dr. Teichelmann travelled from Mt. Cook to Ashburton. From here they took a train to Mt. Somers, purchased food and supplies, and hired a trap to take them to Lake Heron Station. The pair used horses to reach the first shepherd's hut and the next day, packed up to a camp under Mein's Knob. For five days in rained and the pair were forced to shift camp to higher ground. During the incessant rain, they climbed the Knob but got only occasional glimpses of Lyell Glacier and the surrounding mountains.

During a respite, Graham and Teichelmann crossed the Rakaia and camped on a spur at the junction of the Louper. The rain continued but they travelled up the left bank of the Rakaia and got onto the Ramsay Glacier at its terminus. They now knew the route up the Rakaia to the snout of the Lyell Glacier, the continuous rain hampered them from further exploration. They returned to Hokitika via Whitcombe Pass and Kowhitirangi farm settlements. Teichelmann wrote, " Having failed in this attempt, we decided to tackle the region from the Wanganui in the following season."(61)

There are no exact dates for the return of Teichelmann to Hokitika, or records of Teichelmann meeting Roberts to share details of his journey. But his return would have been somewhere in the first ten days of March 1910. It is safe to assume that Teichelmann would have talked to G.J.Roberts and it is easy to picture them pouring over photographs and Teichelmann taking advice for his next trip to the head of the Wanganui.

But Robert was never able to see the fruits of Teichelmann's more successful 1911 expedition, as he died in Hokitika on September 14 1910.


On January 25 1911, Alec Graham and the Doctor, accompanied by Jock Adamson and his loaded pack horses, left Hendes Ferry for the Upper Wanganui. Adamson was of the view he could pack provisions and gear up to the forks of where the Wanganui meets the branches of Lambert and Adams. He was wrong. They had only gone one and a half miles to the first bluff when they found the river unfordable. Teichelmann sent the horses back and replaced them with 'three stalwart West Coasters' Carl Hende, MacKay and Weller, to assist swagging their equipment up river.

The next day the party of five, carrying loads between 50 and 70 lb, tramped up river until they reached an old geological survey camp site near the junction of the Wanganui and Lambert. The following day they moved up the Lambert to Benighted Creek, where the three stalwarts dropped their loads and returned home. One of them Carl Hende, returned a few days later with Jack Clarke.

Clarke joined Teichelmann and Graham and on January 31 carried heavy loads up to Blue Lookout, 'an open cave above the head of Benighted Creek and well up on the Lord old camp-site of Charlie Douglas....'(62) The view from here was spectacular. Below the Wanganui took a winding course seawards and above, the impassable Lambert Gorge and the towering Lambert Icefall dominated. Three days of bad weather passed and on February 4, they climbed up to the crest of Lord Range and dropped down the other side, hoping to find a route on to Lambert Glacier above the threantening ice-fall. It seemed that the only way was to drop into the Lord riverbed and set up camp on the northern shoulder of Mt. Stoddard. By the morning of February 6, they climbed and traversed round the shoulder of Mt. Stoddart and found an easy descent into the Lambert Glacier just above the icefall. Teichelmann was thrilled. " We were now on the high snowfields of the Lambert, and travelling was easy in many directions. Mt Lambert was a glorious sight across the undulating and slightly crevassed snowfields, with the early morning sun producing great contrasts of light and shade."

It was still early in the morning, so they pressed on up the snowfield to the Main Divide, reaching it at 8am. Here they had their second breakfast, sunbathed and took a great many photographs. Mountaineer Jim Wilson believes they were at this point, on Lambert Col.(63)

The topographical mysteries were slowly being unravelled ont his day. from Lambert Col, Teichelmann describes what he saw:

" We expected to look down into the Lyell Glacier (Rakaia River) but instead of that we were looking into the Clyde Branch of the Rangitata, which here sends a projection (the Francis Glacier) in the direction of Malcolm Peak, quite cutting off the Lyell from the Lambert snowfields, and saddling over into the basin of the Lord. Opposite us on the left was Mt. Nicholson, seen across the Francis Glacier. This was the peak climbed by Dennistoun and party the previous season, and some tributary glaciers came down from its flanks to join the Francis. Looking along the Divide to the south-west a small peak appeared in the skyline, which we thought might be Tyndall."(64)

At 9.30am they walked along the Main Divide ridge and found it wasn't Mt. Tyndall. They christened it Snowy Peak and then carried on the West Coast side of the ridge to record the first ascent of Mt. Tyndall. From the southern end of Mt Tyndall are twin rocks and from here they got an unimpeded view into Perth River to the south-east and into Adams Gorge to the west.

Opposite Mt. Tyndall to the west they found the highest peak in the region, which was unnamed. It was obvious that Teichelmann and Graham were missing Newton their climbing partner, so in his honour they named the mountain Newton Peak. At 1pm, the group descended a fairly steep snow slope towards Newton Peak and crossed the saddle between the Adams and Lambert Glaciers, regaining the route they had taken earlier in the day at Mt. Stoddard. At 6pm they reached their camp.

Jack Clarke and Alec Graham were keen to push off early next morning to climb the beautiful virgin peak of Malcolm, but Teichelmann asked for a rest. He was now 52 years of age, and had been pushing himself hard on this trip. The next day they had a short outing to the north shoulder of Mt. Stoddard, to check the route up Malcolm and take further photographs.

On Wednesday March 8, they set off 'as soon as light permitted', and descended the gully the had checked out the previous day, and climbed up Malcolm Glacier to the base of Malcolm Peak. Turning right they kicked steps up a narrow snow coulior. They alternated between rock and snow to provide variety and as they climbed higher, it became necessary to cut steps. Eventually they reached the divide near the southern arete of Malcolm. Here they spent an hour and three quarters eating, resting and changing clothes. Teichelmann changed his singlet which was a regular habit which in his words, "I have always found that a change into a dry singlet when I am wet and cold infuses new vigour into me."(65)

Refreshed the trio pushed on across a ledge on the western face to the north-western arete which lead them to the corniced summit. Teichelmann was delighted. He had fufilled his promise to the late G.J. Roberts for now, on this auspicious day, ' the weather was now perfect and the views in every direction, magnificent. The whole topography of the region seemed to be laid out before us as if it were a map.' The climb of Malcolm both added to, and confirmed many of the topographical finds of the previous days.

To descend they traversed the peak and descended to near the divide on the north-east side on steep snow and some 'rock-work.' Three glissades took them onto the Malcolm Glacier and they reached their camp late in the afternoon. Not to content to sit back and savour a highly successful day, they packed up camp and descended to the left bank of the Lord River where they slept on some very soft but wet patches of sphagnum moss. Two days later they reached Hendes Ferry, having left a fair amount of food and equipment at each of their camps. Having achieved three first ascents of significant mountains, unravelled the last remaining topographical mystery on the West Coast and taken vital photographs for the Survey Department, he could be justified in saying how good he was. No, the ever modest Doctor gives praise to his two guides...." this was one of the most interesting trips I have ever made, and it was made comfortable by my two companions. Fortunate indeed is the climber who has Graham and Clark (sic) for his guides." (66)

Friend and fellow photographer W.A Kennedy talks about the photographic success of the expedition some 30 years later. " Remarkably fine photographic results were obtained from the heads of the more southerly sub-tributaries of the Big Wanganui, namely the Lord and Lambert, and from the Divide peaks of Malcolm, Snowy and Tyndall, and these photographs later proved of great assistance in the mapping of this country." (67)

In June that year Alec and Jim Graham purchased Batson's Hotel at Waiho, which saw Alec very busy for the next few years. On July 4 1911, Charlie Douglas was admitted to the Westland Public Hospital in Hokitika for 44 days.(68) Here on the hill overlooking Hokitika with brilliant views of the Southern Alps, Dr. Teichelmann saw that his old friend Charlie Douglas was well looked after. Douglas was discharged on September 5 1911.


Although Alec Graham was heavily involved in setting up an hotel business, records show that the 4th, 5th and 6th ascents of The Footstool were done on the same day - April 3 1912. Dr. Teichelmann was in a party with H. Chambers and guides Alec Graham and Jack Clarke and did the 5th ascent. Others on the mountain that day were Mr and Mrs Lindon with guides Darby Thomson and Jack Lippe, and H.F Wright and J. E Walker.(69) Although not recorded, it is likely they crossed to the Hermitage by Graham Saddle and came back the Copland.


In late February 1914, Dr. Teichelmann and Alec Graham were back climbing on the Franz Josef neve.Their trip was briefly mentioned by Andersen as climbing Mt. Spencer from Almer Glacier, over the neve of the Franz Josef Glacier to the col, north of Mt. Spencer, and then on to the summit by the N.E. Arete.(70)

During this period of Teichelmann's climbing career there are numerous references to his stamina, small stature and outstanding qualities. Perhaps these are best summed up by Canon Newton, who wrote:

"A small man, without an ounce of flesh, his physical powers were amazing. I can still see him -slipping through the
tangled bush like a Maori Hen and
perfectly happy, while I panted and
struggled behind in the vilest of tempers- and an enormous 'swag,' above which the crown of a hat was just visible and below, the lower part of a pair of very thin legs.
.....A fine character, a delightful
companion, and one who, when climbing
was almost dead in New Zealand, did so
much by his climbs and his photographs
to rekindle that enthusiasm for the hills which is bearing such good fruit among the new generation of climbers in the
Southern Alps."`

Dr Teichelmann turned 55 years of age in 1914. The Great War saw young guides and amateur mountaineers plucked away to serve overseas, including Teichelmann and Alec Graham, a number never to return. The Doctor's climbing career was not yet over but he had played a very important role as earlier described by Arthur P. Harper and Canon Newton, that of keeping the new sport of mountaineering alive in New Zealand after the NZ Alpine Club went into recess, through his regular expeditions, photographs and articles.(70) Through his encouragment and support Alec and Peter Graham became two of the most notable mountain guides in New Zealand, and together they put South Westland on the map as a destination for tourists and mountaineers.


1 NZAC Journal 1939 p116
2 Place of Return - Hokitika Borough Council
1869-1989 Field Ron p80
3 Press December 20, 1938
4 -5 Dorothy Fletcher, personal communication
6 Various sources, predominently The West Coast Times and West Coast Historical Museum, Hokitika.
7 The Descendents of Christian Gottlieb
Teichelmann - O'Donnell J.F. 1974
8 Dorothy Fletcher, personal communication
9 Graham Collection, Hokitika
10 Death Sighting, Graham Collection
11 Canterbury Mountaineer 1939 p 98
12 West Coast Historical Museum, Hokitika
13-16 Peter Graham - Mountain Guide. p 41-42, 47
17 Uncle Alec and the Grahams of Franz Josef
Graham A & Wilson J (Abbreviated) UA p39
18-22 Mountain Guide p 52-75
23 Newton Diaries, Hocken Library (ND) 1904
24 ND,UA & Mountain Guide
25-26 UA
27 Jubilee History of South Canterbury
Johannes C Andersen 1916
28 Mountain Guide
29 AG
30-31 Aorangi - Wilson, Jim
32-33 Mountain Guide
34 Aorangi
35 UA
36 UA
38 NZAC Journal 1935 p 18-24
39 Mr Explorer Douglas - Pascoe J 1957 p66
40 Newton Diaries 1907
41 UA
42 Newton Diaries 1907
43-44 UA
45 Newton Dairies 1907
46-47 UA
48 Canterbury Mountaineer 1939
49 UA
50 NZAC Journal 1935 p18-24
51 Mr. Explorer Douglas - Pascoe J
52-54 UA
55 Mountain Guide
56 Death Sighting - Graham Collection
57 UA
58-59 NZAC Journal 1923 p175
60 Jubilee History of South Canterbury
61 NZAC Journal 1923
62 UA p 104
63 UA p 105
64-66 NZAC Journal 1923 p 186-190
67 Canterbury Mountaineer 1939
68 Mr. Explorer Douglas p 66
69-70 Jubilee History of South Canterbury
71 NZAC Journal 1939 p 116

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