The Footstool 2,764 m
The glaciated peak of the Footstool towers impressively above Mount Cook Village. Alpine Guides offer a 3-day guided mountaineering package that can get you to the summit.
Sitting right on the Main Divide of the Southern Alps alongside Mount Sefton, the Footstool is an imposing sentinel, within easy walking distance of Mount Cook Village. Summit views of the West Coast beaches and across the Mackenzie are incredible.
This mountain is no push-over, requiring competence with crampons and ice axe, glacier travel and route-finding skills. It is a perfect consolidation trip after a mountaineering course. Alternatively, The Footstool is an ideal early-season peak for a one-off climb in the Aoraki Mount Cook area.
Main Divide Route
We guide the Main Divide Route, NZ Alpine Grade 2+. This traverses the Taewaewae and Eugenie Glaciers before ascending the Main Divide ridge to the summit.
Vertical gain is almost 1,700 metres. 3 days are allowed for the trip with your guide. This gives a full day of flexibility around snow conditions and changeable weather.
The return time from the base camp at Sefton Bivouac is around 8 hours, before descending to Mt Cook Village (another 3 to 4 hours). We include an additional standby day free of charge, to assist working around weather.
Climbing Season - October to January
The Main Divide route is affected by crevassing and bergschrunds in the Eugenie Glacier. The route normally becomes cut-off during January - but conditions every season will vary.
Experienced alpinists can also consider the trip with ski touring/split-boarding gear in late winter, early spring
Guiding fees for 3 days
Alpine Guides Technical Manual
All meals and snacks (lunch from day one to lunch on day 3)
Hut and National Park fees
Free use of a range of technical equipment
Local accommodation for any nights necessary during the trip
Weather contingency day
Make a Booking
Contact us with your proposed dates. Your guide will work around your travel plans, subject to availability.
We require a deposit of NZ$1,000 and completed booking form for each person.
The Footstool is a challenging climb requiring competency with various crampon techniques, and use of two ice tools.
We expect guests to have experience similar to completion of our Alpine Skills Course:
A background in general mountaineering with solid crampon mileage
Glacier travel and basic crevasse rescue skills
Ability to manage snow anchors and belays stations
The Footstool Guided Details
+ Climb Description/ Itinerary
Every Footstool trip is unique, due to weather and mountain conditions. When dealing with a dynamic mountain environment, flexibility is required.
- Meet your guide, discuss plans, check and prepare gear
- Take lunch, drive to Hooker Valley track start
- Ascend to Sefton Bivouac
On the first day we head for an overnight stop at Sefton Bivouac. This small 4-person hut, at 1,660 metres is the oldest structure in the National Park. It commands a great view of the Tasman Valley and up the Hooker Valley.
From the Hooker Valley floor, a vague route leads across stream beds to a zigzagging approach up and over rocky outcrops and snowgrass, before reaching the rocky plateau around the bivvy site. This is a steep climb through tussock and clusters of Mt Cook Lilies, taking around 4 hours with a pack.
- Depart the bivouac in the early hours to climb
- Back to biv for lunch. Re-pack and descend to base in Mt Cook Village
- Or practice skills while waiting for a weather window for a day 3 attempt.
An alpine start sees us off again about 3 or 4 am, roped up for glacier travel. You climb on moderately steep, glaciated terrain, before crossing the face of the Tewaewae Glacier and on to the Eugenie Glacier at around 2,100 metres.
Route finding on the upper Eugenie can be tricky through the large crevasses, especially in December and later.
The Main Divide is reached after dawn at about 2,400 metres, with an incredible view of the West Coast, the forests of the Copland Valley, and the Tasman Sea.
From this point the ascent to the summit is often exposed, requiring good crampon work. Your guide may pitch climb, if conditions warrant. The summit is gained about 9 am. Time is taken for a rest, and to enjoy the view.
The descent is by the same route, with a short break at Sefton Biv. You will arrive back at the village mid-afternoon - the end of an 11 to 14 hour day.
- Back-up day for summit attempt.
A weather contingency day is included at no cost to you. This allows us to roll back the start date of the trip by a full day to give more weather flexibility.
+ Other Routes
The East Ridge and Couloir routes on Footstool can be guided but are rarely in condition. These are graded at NZ Alpine 3+ and guided only at a strict 1:1 ratio, if conditions are suitable.
+ Sefton Bivouac
Sefton Biv rests at 1,660 metres. The hut was built in 1917 and is the oldest standing structure in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. The hike, just to the bivy, offers stunning scenery throughout the entire ascent.
The total height gain is almost 1,000 metres and takes around 5 hours of walking to reach the hut. Some exposed scrambling sections will involve using your hands for balance.
Sefton Biv is a simple shelter with a drinking water tank, mountain hut radio, matresses and toilet. There are no bunks. We will also carry sleeping mats and sleeping bags. Your guide will provide a cooker, stove, and utensils, as required.
The hut is available on a first-come first-served basis. There is no booking system. With only four sleeping spaces the hut may fill if another party arrives. All Alpine Guides parties will carry bivouac bags in case the hut is not available.
Fortunately, the original Sefton Bivouac - a huge rock - is still on site. This can provide shelter for another 6 climbers.
+ Why choose Alpine Guides?
Because Alpine Guides is based in Mount Cook National Park, you will not be driven for hours to and from your starting point. We are right amongst the action.
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park offers:
- Some of NZ's highest peaks (some over 3,000 metres) from NZ Alpine Grade 1 through 3 and beyond.
- Snow and ice, mixed, and alpine rock peaks to test your mettle.
- Ice climbing on the glacial seracs in summer.
- More settled weather than the neighbouring West Coast
+ Equipment and Clothing
Please let us know what gear you need to rent - including any equipment supplied free of charge.
Our gear lists cater for all eventualities. Sometimes you may not require everything on the equipment list. Your guide will help you sort though your kit at the start of your trip. Weather and mountain conditions when your trip starts will help determine what is needed.
Temperatures, weather, and snow conditions will vary. The gear list is designed to work around these possibilities.