Mount Aspiring Expedition - Summer 2016-17


The dramatic ‘horned peak’ of Mt Aspiring (3,033 metres) is often described as “the Matterhorn of the Southern Alps”, and when viewed from the West looks particularly impressive.

Alpine Guides regularly guides throughout Mount Aspiring National Park. Our 5-day “expedition” is designed to offer the best possible chance of climbing Mount Aspiring.

The package describes the degree of difficulty involved, the routes, and the time required.

Costs & Conditions

5-day Mount Aspiring Expedition

  • 1 Person NZ$4,900 per person (1:1 ratio)
  • 2 People NZ$3,100 per person (1:2 ratio) - North West Ridge only

Pricing includes:

  • Guide fees for 5 days
  • All meals including snacks and energy bars 
  • Hut fees, and Wanaka Accommodation as required (inside trip dates) 
  • Cost of air access to Bevan Col
  • Free use of a range of technical equipment 

We can add another day (or more) on to this package, if you want to extend your stay in the mountains. Please contact us for a quote

Cost of flight out of mountains. See Egress From The Mountains for more details.

Booking Conditions | Mt Aspiring Expedition

These special conditions are in addition to our standard booking terms and conditions. 

  • A period of 5 days is covered in the cost, even though the summit may be reached in less time. You have the option of retaining your guide and completing another climb or returning to Wanaka. No refund is due if you choose to finish early.
  • Extensions to the 5 days may be possible (depending on your guide’s work commitments) - this will be an additional cost of NZ$725 per day, which includes food and hut fees.
  • If the period is involuntarily extended, the cost is an additional NZ$650 per day.

Experience Required

There is no ‘easy’ way to the summit. The standard North West Ridge route is a long day of climbing 1,220 vertical metres over 10-12 hours, including travel across glaciated terrain, and pitched climbing.

Alpine Guides offers 2 approaches - based on your climbing experience. 
A. Ratio 1 to 1

For the North West Ridge route we will guide participants with alpine climbing skills - at least to the level of the Technical Mountaineering Course (TMC). A high level of fitness is also required.

On South West Ridge we will guide experienced climbers, those who have experience similar to our Technical Mountaineering Course (TMC), in addition to other alpine climbing.

B. Ratio 1 to 2

North West Ridge only. This makes a great option for 2 friends booking together.

  • Both participants must have climbed together previously
  • Must have similar climbing ability/experience
  • Minimum experience level similar to the completion of our Technical Mountaineering Course (TMC), plus other alpine ascents

Note: we do not put individuals together to create parties of 2. You must book together as a party of 2 climbers.

Prerequisites - North West Ridge at 1:1 ratio:
  • At least 5 days crampon experience, including 30º to 35º snow/ice
  • Competence on rock - seconding to AU 14 or US 5.7
  • Confidence scrambling with exposure
  • Ascents of 2 or 3 significant peaks involving some exposure (NZ Alpine 1+ to 2+)
  • High level of aerobic fitness - able to carry an 8 kg backpack 1,000 vertical metres in 3 hours.
Prerequisites - South West Ridge (1 to 1), or NW Ridge at 1 to 2 ratio:
  • At least 10 days on crampons within the past 2 years
  • Experience climbing with 2 tools on 45º to 50º snow and ice
  • Experience of several 16-20 hour days on alpine ascents (NZ Alpine 1+ to 3)
  • Competence on rock - seconding to Australian 16, or US 5.8
  • High level of aerobic fitness - able to carry an 8 kg backpack 1,000 vertical metres in 2.5 hours

If you have any question about relevant experience please contact us. 

Booking for Mount Aspiring

We will provide a guide to work around your travel plans (subject to availability). The first step is to contact us with your proposed dates 

We do not have guides standing by waiting for work. “Walk-in” and short-notice enquiries generally cannot be filled. For the most popular period, December through February, we recommend booking 2 to 3 months in advance.

Reporting Details & Travel to Wanaka

French Ridge Hut

The Mount Aspiring Expedition is designed to start in Wanaka at 08:30 on the first day and finish at 17:00 on the last day.

Your guide will help organise your equipment at the start of your trip. This takes an average up to 2 hours. After an initial outline of the program and equipment check, you fly into the mountains at the first possible opportunity.

Read more on transport options to Wanaka here. 

Meeting your guide at Wanaka

Lake Wanaka, and access to the Mount Aspiring region is 2 hours drive south of our base at Mount Cook. We will arrange a meeting place and time with your guide. Usually at your accommodation in Wanaka.

Important: if you need to rent or borrow Alpine Guides equipment you must advise us in advance. Your guide will bring the equipment you need.

Accommodation options in Wanaka. 


Mountaineering on Mount Aspiring in the summer months has a relatively low objective hazard. The guide’s primary concern will always be safety. Decisions on route feasibility and conditions will always be based around this.

Route Descriptions

1. North West Ridge Route
  • Maximum guide to participant ratio: 1 to 2 (1 or 2 participants per guide)
  • NZ Alpine Grade: 2+
  • Season: October to April

NW Ridge Route, via The Ramp

The North West ridge is the most commonly guided route on Mount Aspiring. The climb takes 10 to 12 hours return from Colin Todd Hut (1,220 metres).

The lower section of the mountain can be climbed either by “The Ramp” - pitched climbing up 40° snow; or up the Shipowner Ridge on mixed snow and rock (more rock as the season progresses).

The upper part of the mountain is climbed via the North West Ridge. This involves moderate snow and ice up to the summit. Your guide will usually short rope you up this, depending on conditions.

The descent is via the same route. It requires concentration and good crampon technique.

2. South West Ridge
  • Maximum guide to participant ratio: 1 to 1
  • NZ Alpine Grade: 3+ 
  • Season: October to mid-February

SW Ridge Route

Regarded as one of New Zealand’s classic ascents, the SW ridge is a challenging climbing mission for more experienced alpinists. The guiding ratio is at a strict 1:1.

Access on to the ridge is via the Bonar Glacier. We will normally bivouac high on the glacier (at about 2,200 metres) before the climb.

At a point about 150 metres below the summit the South West Ridge runs into a step couloir. This exposed section is climbed with 3 pitches on 55-60° snow and ice, before joining with the NW ridge and ice cap.

Because of snow conditions in the couloir the route is often in best condition earlier in the season (before end of December). The descent route is normally by the NW ridge, to Colin Todd hut. Total time is normally 12-14 hours.

Aspiring from Colin Todd Hut

Aspiring from Colin Todd Hut

Access to Colin Todd Hut

Colin Todd Hut is located at the base of the North West ridge. It is a strenuous 1.5 day walk. Flying in makes best use of your available good weather.

By using helicopter access you can maximise your energy on the mountain, and the time spent climbing. Fresh food can also be taken in to add to the enjoyment of the expedition. After flying to Bevan Col there is an 1.5 hour walk to Colin Todd Hut, across the Bonar Glacier.

Camping may sometimes be required due to the limited bed capacity at Colin Todd Hut. Alpine Guides will provide tents and other camping gear, if required.

Egress from the mountains

It is possible to fly out from Bevan Col, but the usual practice is to walk out. This can either be via the Bevan Col route (a very long days walk and climb over difficult terrain) or to the Quarter Deck Glacier and then down French Ridge to French Ridge Hut.

The French Ridge route can take 1.5 to 2 days, and must be undertaken within the time frame of your trip. Your guide will decide which route is most suitable for weather, snow conditions, and your fitness at the time.

Helicopter cost from Bevan Col is approx. NZ$900 if chartering the helicopter yourself. If other climbing parties are flying in or flying out at the same time, this cost may be significantly reduced.

South West Ridge of Mount Aspiring.

Footwear and Walking out

After the descent into the Matukituki Valley floor, the walk to the vehicle pickup point at Raspberry Flat takes around 5 hours. This a pleasant hike down a river valley on a grass track - although with a sizeable pack on your back!

In this kind of terrain plastic mountaineering boots can be a bit much. If you want to use plastic boots for the climb we recommend carrying a pair of running shoes, or tough sports sandals for this section of the trip. These shoes can also be used as hut footwear

For late-season Mount Aspiring climbs, especially when climbing on the rocky North West Ridge route, leather technical mountaineering boots are recommended. These are a more comfortable walking option than plastics.

Read more about boots for mountaineering on our Gear Guide. 

Equipment and Clothing | Mount Aspiring Expedition

Please let us know what gear you need to rent - including any equipment supplied free of charge.

Choosing your clothing | Seasonal Variation

Our gear lists cater for all eventualities. Sometimes you may not require everything on the equipment list. Weather and conditions when your trip starts will help determine what is needed.

Temperatures, weather, and snow conditions will vary. The program is designed to work around these changes. Read more about seasonality, weather, and snow conditions here.

Make a Booking

  • Please ensure you have talked to us about guide availability.
  • We require a deposit of NZ$1,000 and completed booking form for each person.