Guided Alpine Climbing in New Zealand's Southern Alps

Overview

Descending onto the Bonar Glacier, Mt. Aspiring.

Descending onto the Bonar Glacier, Mt. Aspiring. Guy Cotter

Though just over 3000 meters (9840 feet) in height, the Southern Alps of New Zealand are similar in ruggedness and valley-to-summit altitude gains to the higher peaks of the Himalaya. These mountains can be climbed at any time of year, but the best to climb is New Zealand's summer (November through April).

Our New Zealand ascents are led in conjunction with Adventure Consultants, a New Zealand based guide service and mountaineering school whose internationally certified guides have extensive experience guiding and instructing on the high peaks of the world. AAI and Adventure Consultants offer three ascent programs in the Southern Alps and they are described below.

Guided Alpine Climbing in New Zealand's Southern Alps

Routes and Itineraries

A Week of Classic Ascents (7 days, all levels)

Guide and climber greet the dawn above Mt. Cook's Grand Plateau.

Guide and climber greet the dawn above Mt. Cook's Grand Plateau.

Join us for a week of climbing in New Zealand's magnificent Southern Alps as we review skills and then enjoy the pleasures of alpine climbing in this superb range. Climbing at a 2:1 or a 1:1 climber to guide ratio, we customize the itinerary at beginner, intermediate, or more advanced levels to fit your skills and ambitions.

This program's use of helicopters and huts allows us to pack a great deal of quality climbing into a short trip. On a typical seven-day itinerary, we first fly to Pioneer Hut on the Fox Glacier where we review skills, and then the next day ascend our first route on Mt. Von Bulow. From the same base we also climb Glacier Peak and Lendenfield Peak and from their summits enjoy tremendous views of the Southern Alps and of the nearby Tasman Sea. We later climb over West-Hoe Pass and establish ourselves at Centennial Hut. From here we can make several ascents, with the beautiful Minarets as a likely choice from which we enjoy terrific views of the many rugged peaks surrounding the upper Tasman Glacier as well as of the Malte Brun Range. 

Pricing: (Includes air access flight, guiding, permit fees, ground transport, all meals and snacks, hut accommodation, and New Zealand 15% GST. )
2:1 - NZ $3150 per person
1:1 - NZ $5500.00.

*You might also want to consider adding days for an ascent of Mt. Aspiring or Mt. Cook in a mountain adventure totaling 10 to 14 days.

 

Mount Aspiring Ascent (5 days, intermediate to advanced levels)

Mt. Aspiring is a majestic, soaring peak and a challenging climb. Known to the indigenous Maori people as Tititea, "the glistening one," this peak exemplifies much of what for centuries has been termed classic in mountain scenery: from some aspects it has formidable, shear faces while from others it has fine graceful lines that culminate in its sharply defined summit.

Mount Aspiring basking in alpenglow.

Mount Aspiring basking in alpenglow. Guy Cotter

We guide one of three beautiful routes on the mountain in a five-day program (a seven-day option is also available):

  1. The Northwest Ridge, an easy rock route, that while very exposed, has only a few sections of 5.5 difficulty;
  2. The Ramp, which is a steep snow route ascending from the Bonar Glacier to meet the Northwest Ridge half way to the summit;
  3. The Southwest Ridge, which offers rock, snow, and ice, following a perfectly formed 45-degree arete, a short 65-degree ice section, and a two-pitch ice face that leads directly to the summit.

All of these routes take on average around 14 to 16 hours round-trip. The walk into the Aspiring region is beautiful, but it is a 12 to 16 hour backpack into Bevan Col or the Colin Todd Hut where we base ourselves for the climb. The majority of our climbers utilize helicopter access to Bevan Col on the edge of the Bonar Glacier in order to arrive fresh and take advantage of fine weather periods, and we therefore included this option in our pricing. Climber to guide ratio is 1:1.

Pricing: (Includes air access flight, guiding, permit fees, ground transport, all meals and snacks, hut accommodation, and New Zealand 15% GST. )
1:1 - NZ$4100

 

Mount Tasman Ascent (6 days, intermediate to advanced levels)

Mount Tasman is widely thought to be the most beautiful peak within the Mt. Cook region, and has sufficient technical demands to make this a memorable ascent.  The aesthetic and demanding routes we climb on this mountain are predominantly snow and ice, with classice alpine ridges and steep faces.   

Our Mt Tasman ascent takes place over a six day period, supported by helicopter and staged from the head of the Fox Glacier.  Our most commonly guided route takes us traverse the Albert Glacier from Pioneer hut, up to the airy Marcel Col.  Our route then takes us up and over Lendenfield Peak, before traversing Engineer Col. 

Mt. Tasman's North Shoulder Winds Toward The Summit

Mt. Tasman's North Shoulder winds toward the summit

From that point, we begin the steep and exposed ascent of Mt. Tasman's North Shoulder.  The ridge traverse from the top of the North shoulder to the summit is sure to remain an indelible highlight of your mountaineering career!

Pricing: (Includes air access flight, guiding, permit fees, ground transport, all meals and snacks, hut accommodation, and New Zealand 15% GST. )
1:1 only - NZ $5150.00.

 

Mount Cook Ascent (6 days, intermediate to advanced levels)

Mt. Cook, traditionally called Aoraki, is one of the world's great alpine climbing prizes. It is a massive peak with five sides, six faces, seven main ridges, and a vertical rise from valley to summit of over 8,000 feet. There is no easy route to the top, and gaining the summit is a very significant achievement.

Climbing through the summit rocks on Mt. Cooks' Linda glacier route.

Climbing through the summit rocks on Mt. Cooks' Linda glacier route. Mick Wheeler

The climb is done in a six-day program which begins with an orientation and gear check and then a flight to Plateau Hut at 7,200 feet. The glacier formations near the hut offer a great area for skills review. With the promise of two days of good weather, we bivouac at 9,500 feet to make the climb easier, but otherwise we make our summit climb from the hut. We climb via the Linda Glacier, which offers complex glacier travel as we weave through large crevasses to the Linda Shelf where the climbing becomes more challenging. We then climb snow and ice on 45-degree slopes and in 50-degree gullies to the Linda Glacier's juncture with the top of Zurbriggen's ridge, and after completing two pitches on the crest of the ridge, we tackle the Summit Rocks with sections up to 5.6. Once we have negotiated the pitches of mixed climbing through the summit rocks we ascend a final 30 to 45-degree ice cap to the summit of New Zealand!

The round-trip climb from Plateau Hut takes 16 to 22 hours depending on route conditions, so a high level of physical fitness is required to have a chance of reaching the summit. We guide Mt. Cook on a 1:1 basis due to the demands of the terrain. Depending on available time, we may be able to make a second ascent in the area.

Pricing: (Includes air access flight, guiding, permit fees, ground transport, all meals and snacks, hut accommodation, and New Zealand 15% GST. )
1:1 only - NZ $5150.00.

Guided Alpine Climbing in New Zealand's Southern Alps

Dates

Please contact the American Alpine Institute  at 360-671-1505 (Toll Free: 1-800-424-2249) or email: info@alpineinstitute.com to arrange dates for this program.

 

High on Aspiring.

High on Aspiring. Guy Cotter

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