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 Technical Mountaineering Courses.
At 2,834 metres, Hochstetter Dome is a perfect introductory guided ascent for those 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. 

Four days gives time to work around weather and conditions and where possible, to brush up on technique and glacier travel/basic crevasse rescue skills.

Hochstetter' 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.

Ascent of the Hochstetter Dome [March 1883]. [Drawn by] F.Schell [Melbourne, Picturesque Atlas Publishing Company, 1886]. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

Climb Description

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. 

Hochstetter Dome and the upper Tasman Glacier

Slopes are moderately angled, around 30 degrees at their steepest. Good footwork is required if conditions are firm, as there can be considerable exposure.

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.

Lunch with a view...

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. 

Experience Required

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
  • Competence with crampon and ice axe skills is essential
  • Glacier travel skills are helpful but not essential

Prices - valid to 30 June 2018

Traversing Hochstetter Dome.

Traversing Hochstetter Dome.

All prices are per person in NZ dollars.

  • One person $4,600
  • 2 people $2,700 per person

Groups of more than 2 people are possible with 2 guides. Please contact us for more details.


  • Guiding fees
  • Alpine Guides Technical Manual 
  • All meals (including snacks and energy bars) 
  • Aircraft access and exit flights
  • Hut fees
  • Local transport 
  • Free use of a range of technical equipment 
  • Local accommodation for any nights necessary during the trip

Why 4 days?

The Southern Alps has a temperate, maritime, alpine climate. Trips here tend to be longer than in continental areas because the weather is more changeable. Longer guided trips offer a better chance of your venture being successful, in the event of some bad weather. Read more about conditions here.

With 'perfect' weather and expereinced guests the Hochstetter trip could be done in 2 days. However, 4 days allows for some weather flexibility, time for some instruction, and perhaps another climb. Also, why rush a good thing?

Booking Hochstetter Dome

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

“Walk-in” and short-notice enquiries usually cannot be filled. We recommend making reservations well in advance.

Reporting Details

Unless otherwise arranged, the trip will start at 08:30 at Alpine Guides base in Mount Cook Village, and finish at 17:00 on the last day of your trip. A morning start makes most effective use of time, allowing you to fly into the mountains by lunch time.

If you arrive in Mount Cook on the day before your trip begins, your guide will probably not be available. Our office staff will be happy to answer any questions you have. Your guide will look after equipment rental, and other gear requirements at the start of your trip.

Read more about transport to Mount Cook.

Mountain Huts

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. Read more about mountain hut living conditions.

Winter or Summer Mountaineering

The summer season (November – 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.

Trip Organisation

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.

Day One

  • 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

Day 2

  • Practise crevasse rescue
  • 1st summit window, or further instruction

Day 3

  • 2nd summit window
  • Or climb another objective, or ice climbing

Day 4

  • 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.

Egress from the mountains

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.

See here for more details on aircraft use.

Equipment and Clothing

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

Book online here using a credit card or by bank deposit.

  • 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.