Hochstetter Dome Guided Climb
Join a 4-day guided mountaineering trip to one of the 'classic' snow and ice summits in the Mount Cook alpine area. The peak was first climbed on 27 March 1883 by Austrians Robert and Anna von Lendenfeld, with NZ porter Harry Drew. Today it is a popular training climb on our Alpine Skills Courses.
At 2,834 metres, Hochstetter Dome is a perfect introductory guided ascent for climbers with some basic mountain skills. The peak is located at the head of the Tasman Glacier in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. We fly in and base the trip from one of 2 mountain huts - Tasman Saddle or Kelman Hut.
Hochstetter Dome, 2834 Metres
Hochstetter Dome is located at the head of the Tasman Glacier in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. We base our trip from either of 2 convenient mountain huts - Tasman Saddle or Kelman Hut. The ascent is 500 vertical metres of moderate, but straight-forward climbing, taking around 6 hours for the return trip. Confident crampon and ice axe skills are essential for a safe summit.
The mountain has 2 'peaks' separated by a breathtaking 500 metre traverse. We can approach the peak by either the south-east or north-west ridge. More experienced guests may first be able to climb Mount Aylmer (2,699 metres), and make a full traverse from east to west.
Winter alpinists who are strong skiers/snowboarders have the bonus of a 1,000 vertical metre ski run from Hochstetter Shoulder down on to the lower Tasman Glacier.
Hochstetter is classed as a 'straight-froward' NZ Alpine grade 1 peak. All climbers will travel roped for glacier travel, and negotiation of crevasses is a feature of the climb as summer progresses. The slopes are moderately angled, around 30 degrees at their steepest. However, good footwork is required if conditions are firm (icy), as there can be considerable exposure at times.
We leave the hut after a civilised breakfast, and take lunch on summit. From there (on a clear day), there is an outrageous view out to the temperate Westland forests and Tasman Sea. Below you is a 1,400 metre drop into the Whymper Glacier and Whataroa Valley!
Total return from Tasman Saddle Hut is approx. 5-6 hours. Add another hour if you are based at Kelman Hut
Vertical ascent from Tasman Saddle Hut, approx. 500 metres.
Other Objectives and Options
If you summit early there may be an option to climb one or more additional peaks (depending on time available, weather, snow conditions and your ability). These can include: Mt Aylmer, Peak 9144 (2,699 metres), Mt Abel (2,688 metres) or Mt Annan (2,934 metres).
Ice climbing in the amazing seracs and ice caves of the the Darwin ice fall is a great way to test your crampon skills - or try something new.
Guide and National Park fees
All meals (including snacks and energy bars)
Aircraft access and exit flights
Free use of a range of technical equipment
Local accommodation for any nights necessary during the trip
Alpine Guides Technical Manual
How To Book
All bookings are subject to guide availability. Please contact us before booking. We require a deposit of NZ$1,000 and completed booking form for each person.
Hochstetter Dome is not for inexperienced climbers. The climb is straight-forward, but takes place in serious glaciated terrain. You need to have spent time on crampons, and be comfortable with self-arrest. Your experience can be through personal climbs or from guided instruction courses.
Minimum experience should be similar to the completion of our Mountain Experience Course, or similar
Competence with crampon and ice axe skills is essential
Glacier travel skills are helpful but not essential
Hochstetter Dome Guided Details
Every Hochstetter Dome trip is unique due to weather and mountain conditions. When dealing with a dynamic environment we believe it is best to take a flexible approach. Your guide will work around prevailing weather and conditions, to get the most from your time.
Use the following itinerary as a rough guide. Weather, conditions and your experience will dictate how your trip is organised.
Meet your guide, discuss plans, check and prepare gear
Fly in to your hut from Mt Cook airport at the first opportunity
Head out for a reconnoitre and practice crampon skills and self-arrest
Practise crevasse rescue
1st summit window, or further instruction
2nd summit window
Or climb another objective, or ice climbing
Last summit window, with an alpine start
Or ice climbing
Pack and fly out
We aim to have you back in Mount Cook Village by late afternoon on the final full day.
+ Winter or Summer Mountaineering
The summer season (mid-October – April) in New Zealand offers the best conditions for alpine climbing, and is the best time for introductory-level mountaineering.
Winter (July - October) is a great time for more experienced alpinists. Hochstetter Dome can be climbed in snowshoes. Experienced backcountry skiers and snowboarders have a fantastic bonus - a 1,000 metre descent from Hochstetter Shoulder down into the Tasman Glacier!
Winter presents different challenges for climbers and ski/snowboard tourers - potential deep snow and avalanche risk can make some routes/peaks inaccessible. Read more about seasonality, weather, and snow conditions here.
+ Mountain Hut
In the mountains you will be based out of one of 2 mountain huts maintained by the Department of Conservation: Tasman Saddle or Kelman Hut.
+ Aircraft Use
A flight out of the mountains is included in the price of the Hochstetter Dome climb .
Most parties will hike down the Tasman Glacier about 8 kilometres, for a pick up from the White Ice area, but you may be picked up from closer to the hut.
+ 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.