Mount Tasman Expedition Details | Summer 2016-17
Mount Tasman "Rarakiora" - at 3,497 metres, is the second highest peak in New Zealand. Sitting on the Main Divide of the Southern Alps, it is one of the most striking ice summits in the world and presents a challenge to all mountaineers. Every ridge to Mount Tasman's summit is a sinuous ice and snow climb that requires excellent mountaineering skills, concentration, and good technique.
An attempt on Mount Tasman requires as much, if not more technical skill and experience than Aoraki/Mount Cook. There is a total vertical gain of approximately 1,200 metres.
Costs & Conditions 2016-17
6 day Mount Tasman Expedition: NZ$5,900 per person
- Guide ratio: strictly 1:1
- Season: Mid-October - April (varies with conditions each year)
- Guide fees on a one-to-one basis
- All meals including snacks and energy bars
- Hut fees and local accommodation
- Local road transport
- Aircraft access to Plateau or Pioneer Hut
- Selection of technical equipment
Cost of flight out of mountains. See Egress From The Mountains below for more details.
Booking Conditions | Mount Tasman
These special conditions are in addition to our standard terms of conditions.
- A period of 6 days is covered in the cost, even though the climb may take only 4-5 days. You have the option of retaining your guide and completing another climb or returning to your starting location (Aoraki/Mount Cook village, Wanaka, Fox Glacier). This will be at the discretion of the guide, based on your ability and the prevailing conditions.
- No refund is due if you choose to finish early.
- Extensions to the 6 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.
- It is not possible to cancel your booking for a refund due to changing route conditions.
Alternative Climbing Options
Flexibility of goals is important. After you book we will keep you informed if (in the unlikely event) conditions change so much that a climb may not be possible.
If snow conditions, weather, level of experience, or fitness preclude an ascent with an acceptable safety margin, your guide will recommend an alternative venue for your trip.
There are many other spectacular ascents to be made in the region. The following list names only a few
- Tasman Glacier area - Mts. Walter, Green, Malte Brun, Elie de Beaumont, Aiguilles Rouges
- Fox Glacier area - Mts. Haidinger, Lendenfeld, Mount Tasman
- Franz Josef area - Minarets, Mt. De La Beche
Experience Level Required
Mount Tasman is suitable for climbers who have been on serious mountain terrain before. Familiarity with different cramponing techniques is essential for a safe ascent.
- At least 10 days on crampons within the past 2 years
- Experience on 50º to 55º ice with two tools and sustained front-pointing
- Ascents of other alpine peaks involving snow and ice (NZ Alpine 2 to 3)
- Rope and belaying skills
- A high level of aerobic fitness - able to carry an 8 kg backpack 1,000 vertical metres in 2.5 hours
If you have questions about experience required please contact us.
Booking for Mount Tasman
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.
Due to the serious nature of guiding Mount Tasman only senior guides are employed for this assignment. There are a limited number of senior guides and therefore a limited number of Mount Tasman Expeditions available every season. Early booking (sometimes 2 to 3 months in advance) is essential.
The Mt Tasman Expedition starts at 08:30 on day one, and finishes at 17:00 on day 6. A morning start makes most effective use of time, normally allowing you to fly into the mountains by lunch time.
Climbs via Silberhorn Ridge start at Mt Cook Village. Attempts from The North Shoulder, via Pioneer Hut have 3 possible starting points.
We will discuss with you the best location to meet with your guide. If starting at Wanaka or Fox Glacier your guide will bring through your required rental equipment.
Air access from the West Coast to Pioneer Hut is more reliable (due to weather), and significantly cheaper than flying from Mount Cook, when considering your potential exit flight costs.
1. Starting at Wanaka
We can arrange for your guide to meet you at Wanaka, bypassing our base at Mount Cook.
After starting your trip at Wanaka you will drive with your guide to Fox Glacier township and fly in to Pioneer Hut. The drive to Fox Glacier and return to Wanaka must be done within the 6 days booked with your guide.
2. Starting at Fox Glacier
You can meet your guide to start and finish your trip at Fox Glacier township.
This option maximises the potential time with your guide. It cuts out at least a half day of road travel from your 6 day expedition.
3. Starting at Mt Cook Village
You can meet your guide at at Alpine Guides office in Mount Cook Village.
Choosing this option runs the risk of a delayed start, as it is not always possible to fly across the Main Divide from Mt Cook Village to Pioneer Hut.
There will be an additional charge to drive from Mt Cook around to Fox Glacier - approx. 7 hours by road - if required to readily reach Pioneer Hut. See also the egress options for a Mt Cook start.
Mount Tasman is a technical peak. The guided routes (either by Silberhorn Arête or the North Shoulder) are generally not exposed to objective danger. In some seasons ice cliffs can cut off the North Shoulder.
An attempt on Mount Tasman via either of these routes is a major commitment for both guide and participant. The guide's primary concern is always for your safety.
Your guide's appraisal of your competence and the route conditions will determine whether the climb can be attempted, or an alternative ascent considered.
The 2 guided routes are graded at 3+ (approx AD to D European)
Silberhorn Ridge Route (from Plateau Hut)
- NZ Alpine Grade 3+
- Season: Mid-October to December
Leaving Plateau Hut (about 01:00) the route crosses the Grand Plateau, weaving through crevasses to Silberhorn Ridge. The ridge is moderately angled snow/ice, and is usually belayed to the top of Silberhorn peak.
The most technical section begins here, and most pitches will be belayed to the summit. Conditions will vary from snow/ice to “boiler plate” hard ice. Good crampon technique is essential.
The final ridge to the summit is exposed and very narrow, requiring concentration and care. The summit is an intersection of three ridges with room for sitting and taking in the magnificent views. The descent is by the same route. Total time is 15-18 hours return to Plateau Hut.
North Shoulder Route (from Pioneer Hut)
- NZ Alpine Grade 3+
- Season: Mid-October to April
This approach is based from Pioneer Hut, at the head of the Fox Glacier. The route involves glacier travel to Marcel Col, then short-roping or pitching up Mount Lendenfeld (a 3,000 metre peak in its own right), before descending to Engineer Col (normally reached by sunrise).
The North Shoulder is then pitched (4 - 5 pitches) and followed by short-roping, and pitching along the ridge. The last pitch ascends a knife-edge exposed ridge to the summit. The descent is by the same route. Total time is typically 15 to 18 hours return to Pioneer Hut.
Access to the mountains
The cost of flying in to the mountain hut venue is included in the Expedition price.
A walk into Plateau or Pioneer Hut is a strenuous exercise of 1.5 days. Flying in makes best use of available good weather.
Because flying in does not allow your guide to determine your ability and fitness, we may require a “training” climb before attempting Mount Tasman. This is at your guide’s discretion, and ensures that our standards of safety are maintained.
Egress from the mountains
Two means of egress are available at the end of the trip: walking or flying out. Flying out is the most common choice.
Please - ALWAYS BUDGET FOR A FLIGHT OUT, even if you want to walk.
The walk out must be done inside the allocated trip dates. In some situations (due to weather, conditions, and fitness) it may not always be possible to walk out.
Your guide is the final arbiter on whether a walk out will go ahead.
Flying/walking from Plateau Hut
- Flying costs approximately NZ$490 by ski plane, or up to NZ$800 by helicopter.
- The average cost is ranges from NZ$380 - NZ$420.
Costs will be significantly reduced if the aircraft is shared with other climbers. We always try to arrange this.
Flying/walking from Pioneer Hut
Option 1 - Mount Cook Start
Fly back directly to Mount Cook. This cost may vary from NZ$600 to NZ$1,200, depending on flight logistics on the day. This cost can be reduced if sharing with other parties flying in/out.
Option 2 - Wanaka Start
Fly out to Fox Glacier Township from Pioneer Hut by helicopter (NZ$500 or less) then travel by car to Wanaka.
Option 3 - Wanaka Start
Walk down to Chancellor Hut and fly out to Fox Glacier Township via helicopter (NZ$300 or less) then travel by car to Wanaka. Requires a full day.
Option 4 - Mount Cook Start
Walk back to Mount Cook via Graham Saddle. This requires 3 days.
Equipment and Clothing | Mount Tasman Expedition
Important: if meeting your guide in Wanaka or Fox Glacier you need to advise us about any rental equipment you need well in advance (including free of charge gear). Your guide will bring the gear required.
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 about Weather & Snow Conditions, Summer and Winter.
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.