Armistice Peak, south of Aoraki / Mount Cook

World War One through place names. Armistice Peak, south of Aoraki / Mount Cook.

New Zealand Anzac Wreath Laying Service, New Zealand Memorial, Longueval.
New Zealand Anzac Wreath Laying Service.
Image: New Zealand Defence Forces

Samuel Turner and Edgar Williams first scaled this peak in 1918. Williams was a prolific climber whose other notable achievements included the first ascents of Mount Greenlaw and Mount Sibbald. As for Turner, he was one of the most controversial figures in New Zealand mountaineering. An Englishman who performed many daring exploits, including the first traverse of Aoraki/Mount Cook, he was intensely disliked for his perceived arrogance and tendency to belittle the efforts of his contemporaries.

The significance of Turner and Williams’ climb lies in the precise date on which it took place: 11 November 1918. At 11am (Paris time) that same day, an armistice negotiated by Allied and German representatives in a railway carriage parked at the forest of Compiègne came into effect. Under its terms, the Germans agreed to withdraw from all French and Belgian territory, and to surrender most of their navy, air force, and artillery. Although technically only a suspension of hostilities, in practice the Armistice marked the end of the fighting on the Western Front that had been raging for nearly four and a half years. Many countries still mark the signing of the Armistice on 11 November, although it usually forms part of wider Remembrance Day commemorations.

References:

  • Langton, Graham, ‘Samuel Turner: Climber and Egotist Supreme’, New Zealand Wilderness, May 2002, pp. 7-9
  • New Zealand Geographic Board: Correspondence, vol. 47, p. 285, vol. 48, p. 191
  • New Zealand Geographic Board: Minutes, 1985 (18)
  • New Zealand Geographic Board, ‘New Zealand Gazetteer'