Author(s): Ralph Warbuton
IN THE 1940S, and while in his 30s, Ralph Warburton fell in love with the mountains. He gave up his job of watchmaker and trained as a glacier guide, later becoming official photographer for glacier parties at Franz Josef. His family formed and grew up in the tiny South Westland village, a remote spot before the Haast highway was put through years later.
In lucid, laconic prose, Ralph tells of adventurous crossings of the main divide, of mountain ascents, tragedies, miraculous rescues. He offers vignettes of village and family life, stories of the big weather affecting their lives and livelihoods and of colourful local personalities.
ItÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs also a story of love, between a man and his dog. Scott, the ÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂfour-footed mountaineerÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂ learned to climb so he need never be parted from his master. He crossed mountain passes and weathered accidents that would have killed a lesser dog. Scott won the hearts of visitors to the glacier with his skills and his determination to be in party photos, always in one position: centre front.
Ralph Warburton is 89 years old and lives in Wanaka. Until recently he was president of the Veterans Cross-country Ski Club and has been active in community affairs.