FAQ - Walking out of the Mountains

Walking out from mountain locations at the end of your Alpine Guides trip is an arduous undertaking. It will test your fitness and stamina. This FAQ describes various walk outs you may experience.

In NZ there are no cable cars, so approaches to climbing venues from road ends are typically long.

You must always be prepared and fit enough to walk out if weather conditions will not allow for aircraft pick-up. Weather must also be suitable to allow safe travel on foot.

The option to walk out is based on:

  • Your fitness
  • Snow conditions
  • Weather at the time

Your guide is the final arbiter on whether the walk out will go ahead.

All times below are for "fit" parties, moving well. Slower parties, poor conditions underfoot, and poor weather will affect travel times.

Mt Cook Village From Tasman Saddle Area

  • Distance: 20 Kilometres
  • Vertical descent: 1,500 metres
  • Time required: 10-16 hours

4-6 hours walking the length of the glacial ice. 5-8 hours of on very rough glacial moraine (shattered boulders).

A helicopter pick-up may be possible from below the old De La Beche Hut location on the white ice of the glacier. This will reduce costs, and avoids walking the (harder) moraine section.

During winter skiing the length of the glacier takes about 2 hours before reaching the glacial moraine and starting to walk.

Mt Cook Village From Grand Plateau

  • Distance: 8 Kilometres
  • Vertical descent: 1,200 metres
  • Time required: 6-9 hours

The walkout is a descent via Cinerama Col and the Boyes Glacier. This is an extremely rugged trip with 1 - 2 hours walking on nevé. The steep glacier descent is followed by approximately 300 metres of scree, 1,000 metres of boulder stream, and finally (at least) 2 hours walking over moraine.

Mt Cook Village via Graham Saddle, from Pioneer Hut

  • Day 1: 5 kms. 4-5 hours of glacier travel through West Hoe Pass to Centennial Hut, staying the night.
  • Day 2: 8 kms, 1,000 vertical metres descent. 8-10 hours crossing Graham Saddle and descending De la Beche ridge (a moderately difficult route) to bivouac close to the old De la Beche bivy rock site - the rock has fallen into the Tasman! Good weather is required for this crossing.
  • Day 3: either a 1-hour walk out to the Tasman Glacier white ice for a helicopter pickup (see Aircraft use and Costs) or 6-8 hours of walking (9 kms) over glacial moraine to the road end for a 4WD pick up (and cold beer).