Aoraki Mt Cook / Westland Guidebook Update (21 Dec 2008)
Most recent updates: Franz Josef and Fox Glacier neves, south face of Mt Dixon, west face of Mt Hamilton.
This is an unofficial update to the Aoraki Mt Cook Guidebook published by the NZAC in 2001. This page lists new routes and recent first winter ascents; that is, information that isn't in the guidebook. It is intended that notable solo ascents will be recorded also. The page is a work in progress. If you know any new routes, winter ascents, notable solo climbs from any time or corrections, or you have better photos showing the new routes, then please email us at email@example.com.
There is also the possibilty of regrading technical routes using the Darrans system, which comprises a technical grade and commitment grade. A few details, such as grades and names, are missing for some new routes.
An entry on this page does not mean the climbers in question have themselves claimed a first ascent since this page has been mostly composed by the author surveying the climbing literature.
Chapter 2: Hooker Valley
- 2.36 Original Gunbarrels, south face of Mt Hicks. First free ascent, first full ascent post collapse of the bottom section, and notable solo climb (grade 6) – Gren Hinton, winter 2002.
- 2.37 Yankee–Kiwi Couloir, south face of Mt Hicks. Notable winter solo ascent (grade 6+) – Gren Hinton, July 2004.
- 2.41 Central Gullies, south face of Mt Hicks. Notable winter solo ascent (grade 6–) – Gren Hinton, winter 2002.
- 2.41 Logan's Run, south face of Mt Hicks. Notable winter solo ascent (grade 6+) – Gren Hinton, July 2004.
- A new route on the south face of Mt Hicks to the right of the Right Buttress – Pat Deavoll and Marty Beare, winter 2002.
- Kiwi–Sherpa Route, south face of Aoraki-Mt Cook. A new route following an ice runnel between White Dream and the Slovenian Route – Mike Madden and Tshering Pande Bhote, March 2005, grade 5.
Chapter 6: Grand Plateau
The Cave Variant (red) and
Direct routes (blue)
on the south face of Mt Dixon
- The Cave Variant, south face of Mt Dixon. A new route starting up the snowfield approach to the south ridge (route 6.44) but
heading right and aiming for the major corner/runnel breaching the rock band. One or two
pitches of steepening ground lead to a cave. The line climbs out and around the roof of the
cave on very steep ice and mixed ground to gain easier climbing to the snowfield
above, which is followed to the crest of the ridge. Three pitches – Phil Blunsom and Stuart Hollaway, December 2006, alpine ice 4+, grade 4.
south face of Mt Dixon. A new route, which may not be accurately drawn, through the mid-face rock band – Murray Ball and Al Cutler, February 1979.
Chapter 7: Upper Tasman
East face of Mt Haidinger
- White Steel, east face of Mt Haidinger. A new route running up the left-hand four-pitch waterfall in the centre of the headwall. The route was accessed from the West Coast by descending the upper east face further to the south and traversing to the base of the route – Glenn Pennycook and Tshering Pande Bhote, July 2004, grade 6–.
- Steely White Boys, east face of Mt Haidinger. A new route on the east face of Mt Haidinger running up the right-hand waterfall in the centre of the headwall. The route was accessed as for White Steel – Johnny Davison and Marty Beare, winter 2005, grade 5.
- Archbishop of Canterbury, east face of Mt Alymer. A new route running directly up the centre of the face with 450m of steep climbing – Adrian Camm and Paul Knott, September 2004, grade 4/5.
- North face of Hochstetter Dome. Although not accessed from the Tasman Glacier, the north face is mentioned in the Tasman Glacier chapter. The face has been climbed – Guy McKinnon, winter 2007, grade 4.
West face of Mt Hamilton.
A new route running up the steep rock to the right of the West Gut.
Eleven pitches with a grade 15 crux
Tom Wilson and Steve Dowall, January 2008, grade 4+.
New route on the west face of
- 7.81 North East Flank, Aiguilles Rogue. A possible first winter ascent – Jonathan Carr and Graeme Bathurst, June 1990s.
Chapter 10: Eastern Tasman
- The Monk's Spunk, Gorilla Stream. A two-pitch waterfall (50m, 40m) at 1300m – Mark Kendrick, Graham Zimmerman, August 2007, WI5.
Chapter 13: Franz Josef Glacier
The Franz Josef area is not well covered in the guidebook at present and the area has far greater climbing potential than may be implied. Grades and more indepth route descriptions for climbs in this area would be welcome.
Routes on Matenga Peak
Mixed Blood, south face of Matenga Peak. A new route running up the left couloir on the face – Graham Zimmerman, Andrew Rennie, M4.
Cleavage, south face of Matenga Peak. A new route running straight up an obvious deep couloir, in places only a couple of metres wide, in the middle of the face. Sections of steep water ice interspersed with snow over three pitches. The second pitch is the crux
– Tom Wilson, Mike Peat, October 2007, WI3.
Little Day Out, north-west face of Mt Rudolf. A new route following a zig-zagging gully right of route 13.7. Five pitches with the crux being the fourth pitch where the ice may run out – Paul Prince, Alex Ross, Graham Zimmerman, August 2005, grade 3.
North face of Aigrette Peak, described in the guidebook simply as an easy climb from the Franz Josef neve. Several variations may exist on this face. The direct route straight up the middle of the face
is an excellent
introductory technical climb of five pitches at grade 2.
We Have Only Just Begun, south-west face of Mt Jervois. A new route following a gully on the left side of the face. The climb is four pitches to the knife-edge ridgeline and another pitch to easier ground on the ridge. The climb serves as an ideal climb for climbers early in their technical climbing careers. The gully involves three ropelengths of sustained 60 to 65-degree alpine ice without rests. The best option for descent is probably to continue along fairly straight-forward ground to take in the summit (two more pitches) and then descend a gully system to the north via a mix of abseiling and downclimbing (three ropelengths in total). There are many more ice routes
at higher grades on the face awaiting first ascents. One and two-pitch routes have been climbed on the face more towards Centennial Hut. The grading of this climb is a little more conservative compared with grades on Mt Rudolf – Lars Andersson, Francesca Eldridge, Glenn Pennycook, November 2008, grade 3–.
South-west face of Mt Jervios rockclimbs. There is some excellent rock on the face for summer climbing. Paul Scaife, Tim Robertson, Genevieve Lemaire and Michael Veuillet climbed three and a half pitches on a buttress in January 2003 and Vaughan Thomas and Tim Gill climbed a four-pitch prominent corner crack in January 2004. Further details would be welcome.
South-west face of Mt Aurora. A new route ascends the face over four pitches. Further details would be welcome. Anton Wopereis and Frank Marics, March 2002.
Chapter 14: Fox Glacier
South west face of Bismarck Peaks. A new route accessed by traversing across the upper Victoria Glacier under Mt Von Bulow and tackling the second couloir along. Where the couloir turns right, the route follows a side gully and rock rib straight up for two pitches. Finally, there is a traverse right and up to rejoin the couloir, with a top out next to the south peak summit. Eight 60-metre pitches of good quality moderate ice climbing with a WI 2+ crux and some easy mixed ground on the rock rib – Tom Wilson and Steve Dowall, October 2008, grade 4+.
The Next Big Thing, south face of Mt Christie. A new route running directly up the 200-metre face to the summit – Guy McKinnon, July 2004, alpine ice grade 3.
First Monkey Butler, south face of Mt Christie. A new route starting about 30m right of the obvious gully that is The
Next Big Thing and heading straight up taking the steepest line. Three 60-metre pitches – Stuart Hollaway, Alison Thompson, December 2004, alpine ice grade 3.
There have been new routes and winter ascents on the south face of Mt Mallory since the guidebook was published. However, the guidebook has multiple errors for this face, and hence the full list of climbs follows. This update borrows heavily from Allan Uren's published corrections.
Routes on Mt Mallory and Mt Barnicoat
- The Homeowners,
south face of Mt Mallory. A new route – Allan Uren, Craig Cardie and Jeff Richards, July 2003, grade 4.
Noel, south face of Mt Mallory. A new route – Brian Alder, Tony Donaldson and Allan Uren, October 2003, grade 4+.
- 14.5 Unnamed route by John Entwisle et al. was incorrectly drawn in the guidebook as route 14.6.
- 14.6 The Thing, was incorrectly drawn in the guidebook as route 14.8. First winter ascent – Steve Melvin and Nick Wall, August 2004.
- 14.7 Irvine, was incorrectly drawn in the guidebook as route 14.5. The climb is now graded 5.
- 14.8 The Balcony Line, was incorrectly drawn in the guidebook as route 14.7. First winter ascent – Tshering Pande Bhote, Glenn Pennycook, Johnny Davison, July 2004.
- 14.9 Unnamed route by Ruth and Breitinger was correctly drawn in the guidebook but is now graded 5.
- 14.10 Right Side, was correctly drawn and graded in the guidebook.
A copy of the correct route descriptions for Mt Mallory can be found in Pioneer Hut. The recommended descent for Mt Mallory, rather than taking the line illustrated in the picture at right, is one 50-metre abseil and straight-forward downclimbing onto the Franz Josef neve from the top of The Balcony Line.
A new single pitch climb was climbed on the south face of Mt Barnicoat – Allan Uren, Dave Vaas and Richard Turner, August 2003. A full face ascent was made by Peter Cammell and Nick Monteith that included this pitch, July 2004.
A new single pitch climb was climbed on the south face of Mt Barnicoat – Richard Harthem and Allan Uren, July 2003.
Kiss My Axe, south face of Mt Barnicoat. A new route – Anna Keeling and Laetitia Camp, November 2002, grade 4+.
My First Ice Climb, south face of Mt Barnicoat. A new route starts up Kiss My Axe, breaks left to an arete and heads up
the south-west pillar of the rock headwall. The route is a harder variant of Kiss My Axe with mixed climbing on good rock. Six rope lengths –
Stuart Hollaway, Nick Morgan, Anthea Fisher, August 2004, alpine ice 3+.
- 14.13 Tigger, south face of Mt Barnicoat. First winter ascent – Alexander Scherbakov and Glenn Pennycook, August 2003.
- 14.14 East Shoulder, south face of Mt Barnicoat. First winter ascent – Steve Jeff and Kevin Riddell, August 2003.
- White Line, south face of Mt Barnicoat. A new route running up the obvious narrow gully on the buttress on the far right edge of
the Barnicoat massif. Two to three rope lengths lead to a snow field that is climbed for another two to three
rope lengths to the crest – Stuart Hollaway, Nick Morgan, Ben
Hawthorne, September 2006, alpine ice 3.
- 14.15 Moonshine Buttress, south-west face of Conway Peak. First winter ascent – Allan Uren and Craig Cardie, July 2003. As a winter climb, the climb is grade 5.
- Sunshine Buttress, south-west face of Conway Peak. A new route climbing rock for six or so pitches with a crux of grade 17 – Craig Cardie and Allan Uren.
The Vision, south-west face of Conway Peak.
A new route on the right of the main buttress. Aid was used on the crux pitch – Allan Uren, Johnny Davison, Julien White, Adrian Camm, 2006, NZ (Darrans) comittment grade III, NZ (Darrans) technical grade 7, crux pitch would be about M6 if free climbed.
- Life in the Fridge, south-west face of Conway Peak.
A new route immediately left of route 14.16 that follows a right-leaning ramp on the right side of the face under Conway Peak's north (square topped) summit. Five pitches with cruxes encountered on pitches 2 and 4. The route finishes naturally
as an arete rising
from the right-hand snowfields is met, one pitch of broken ground below the summit (not climbed) – Johnny Davison and Allan Uren, August 2006, grade 4.
- 14.16 The Silver Fox, right couloir on the south face of Conway Peak. The route has now been named by the first
ascensionists Stu Gray and Brian Williamson. First
winter ascent – Glenn Pennycook and Andrew Young, July 2004.
Albertown Direct on the
south face of Mt Douglas
- Albertown Direct, south face of Mt Douglas. A new line running up the front face of the central buttress to the central snow arete and finishing up the left couloir –
Dave Vaas and Craig Jeffries,
- Interceptor, south face of Mt Douglas. A new variation to the Central Couloir route that traverses from the right to the left couloir lower than the original line does, hence missing the central couloir, and involving four pitches of new ground – Grant Piper, Paul Scaife, Andrew ?, October 2003.
- 14.27 Central Couloir, south face of Mt Douglas. Notable winter solo ascent (grade 5+) –
Guy McKinnon, July 2003.
West Face, Mt Haidinger. A new route following the winter snow fields between the rock buttresses –
Guy McKinnon, July 2003.
- 14.38 Albino Merino, south-west face of Mt Haidinger. First winter ascent – Glenn Pennycook, July 2004.
- 14.42 High Peak Route from Pioneer Pass, Mt Haast. First winter ascent – Glenn Pennycook and Andrew Young, August 2004.
- 14.50 Atkinson–Hall Route, Mt Haast. First winter ascent – Craig Jeffries and Steve Eastwood, July 2003.
Natural Gas, Mt Haast. A new route to the right of route 14.50 – Allan Uren, Dave Vaas and Richard Turner, July 2003, grade 5+.
Stop Making Sense, West Peak of Mt Haast. A new rock route on the western end of West Peak, running up the beautiful red triangular face that faces the sea. The crux pitch is 50 metres of perfect rock at grade 15
God's Zone on the north-east face
of Torres Peak
- 14.57 Valentine Gully, Marcel Face of Mt Haast. A new variation running to the left of the original line for three pitches. Steeper than the original – Pete Cammell and Nick Monteith, July 2004.
- 14.58 Marcel Face of Mt Haast. A new variation starting up route 14.58 then running up the steep cascade on the left to gain a
hanging valley that leads directly to the divide peak. Three 60-metre pitches – Stuart Hollaway, Alison Thompson, January 2005.
- North Gully, north face of Lendenfeld Peak. A new route following the chimney immediately left of the Hamilton–Berry
Rib. The climbing could be made more interesting by climbing more of the mixed
ground to either side of the main line. Six rope lengths to the snowfield – Stuart Hollaway, Alison Thompson, January 2005, alpine ice 3, easy mixed, grade 4–.
The Mutant, west face of Lendenfeld Peak. A new mixed climb up a stonking corner for five pitches, then another four to five pitches to the summit. A small amount of aid was used to pull through a small roof. The first mixed ascent was climbed in marginal conditions with the ice vibrating and melting and so the grade is difficult to determine. Good rock protection – Tim Robinson, Julian White, Allan Uren, grade 5+? if in condition with thick ice. This route was climbed as a rock route by Andy Macfarlane and partner.
God's Zone, north-east face of Mt Torres. A new route running directly up the face for 14 pitches of mixed climbing and finishing just left of the summit. The ascent required two bivouacs on the face – Allan Uren and Craig Jeffries, July 2004, grade 6+.
Chapter 15: Balfour Glacier
- 15.6 Direct Route, Hidden Face of Mt Tasman. First winter ascent and notable solo climb (grade 6) – Guy McKinnon, July 2004.
Surreal Insomnia, Balfour Face of Mt Tasman. A new route running up the far left-hand side of the face under the ice cliff – Guy Cotter and Mark Seddon, April 2003, grade 5.
- 15.10 Mists of Avalon, Balfour Face of Mt Tasman. Possible first winter ascent and notable solo climb (grade 6) – Gren Hinton, winter 2002.
- 15.13 Original Route, Balfour Face of Mt Tasman. Notable winter solo ascent (grade 6) – Guy McKinnon, July 2004.
- The Middle Path, Balfour Face of Mt Tasman. A new route running up the narrow gully between routes 15.13 and 15.14. Five pitches of quite
steep and occasionally technical ice and mixed climbing to reach the icefields. Phil Blunsom, Stuart Hollaway, December 2006, grade 6.