Malte Brun Expedition
Alpine Guides expedition on to Malte Brun (3,199 metres) offers a chance to climb one of the gems of the Southern Alps. Malte's warm red sandstone faces provide some of the best alpine rock mountaineering in the Mount Cook area.
Malte Brun is a fantastic alpine rock peak, standing out high on the mountain range named after it, east of the Main Divide. The summit offers stunning views of the Aoraki Mount Cook massif and the lakes of the Mackenzie Region.
The peak was first ascended by the legendary Tom Fyfe in 1894. It is one of the gems of the Southern Alps, often overlooked by climbers focused purely on the snow and ice summits of the Main Divide. Malte is a great late-season alternative to Aoraki Mount Cook.
Climbing Season and Route
Climbing on the Malte Brun massif is best when the faces are clean of snow - December to April.
This makes Malte a perfect late-season climb, when the other big glaciated peaks are coming out of condition. We recommend January onwards (but conditions may be suitable earlier).
We most commonly guide variations on the North and West Ridges, but can look at alternatives, depending on conditions and your experience.
Price and Inclusions
Special Booking Conditions
These special conditions are in addition to our standard booking terms and conditions:
A period of 6 days is covered in the cost, even though the climb may be completed in only 4-5 days. You have the option of retaining your guide and completing another climb or returning to Aoraki Mount Cook village. 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$825 per day, which includes food and hut fees.
If the period is involuntarily extended, the cost is an additional NZ$725 per day.
Booking an Expedition
Contact us with your proposed dates. All bookings are subject to guide availability
Early booking (sometimes 3 to 4 months in advance for high-season) is absolutely essential.
Malte Brun is a true “mountaineers’ mountain”. Basic knowledge of travel in crevassed areas is expected for the approaches and exit.
At least 10 days on rock within the past 2 years
Experience of several 12-15 hour days on alpine ascents (NZ Alpine 1+ to 2+)
Basic level of crampon and axe skills for approaches and egress (at least to the standard of our Mountain Experience Course)
Comfortably second on rock - to at least grade AU 15/16 (US 5.8) in mountaineering boots
The ability to self-manage abseils and assist in cleaning gear and anchors
A high level of aerobic fitness - able to carry an 8 kg backpack 1,000 vertical metres in 2.5 hours
For South Face routes, ice climbing ability to WI 3-4 (seconding) is required.
As there are no nearby huts, climbing Malte Brun requires a tent camp and/or bivouac for at least 2 nights, along with the heavier pack load carrying that this additional gear entails (loads of up to 15-20kg).
Mountaineering on Malte Brun in the summer months has a relatively low-moderate objective hazard.
The guide’s primary concern is always for safety. Your guides appraisal of your competence and route conditions will determine whether the climb can be attempted, or an alternative ascent considered.
Malte Brun Expedition Details
+ Route Description: West Ridge, NZ Grade 3
The most commonly guided routes on Malte Brun peak are variations of the West Ridge and North to NW Face.
The ascent day is a long one, usually taking 10-14 hours return from your camp site. The height gain from the high bivouac (at 2,400 metres) is 800 metres (2,640 ft.). Total vertical climbed is around 1,600 metres.
On arrival in the upper Tasman Glacier region by aircraft we either spend the first night in a hut or take our gear closer to the mountain, and establish a base camp. The first day will involve revising skills and reconnoitring the best approach with current conditions.
The day before the ascent we move into place for a high camp/bivouac near the base of the North Face, or at the top of the Bonney Glacier (around 2,400 metres) ready for an early start.
The most common approach is to take a route either up a buttress to the right hand side of the North Face, or a variation of the face. This will meet up with the West Ridge just below the iconic “Cheval” - a knife-edge ridge section, with amazing exposure and vistas.
From here there is about 200 metres more airy ridge climbing to the summit. The scene from the summit offers unsurpassed views of the Aoraki Mount Cook massif, and the lakes and grasslands of the Mackenzie Region.
The descent is by the same route, abseiling the buttress. The descent requires concentration and good rope-work.
+ Start Time and Location
The Expedition will start at 08:30 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.
Check-in at Alpine Guides office in Mount Cook Village.
+ Aircraft Use
Aircraft access to a location high on the Tasman Glacier is built into the cost of the trip. A walk/climb to a base camp for Malte Brun is is a strenuous exercise of up to 2 days on foot, that can only be attempted in good weather.
Flying in makes the best use of available time and good weather, and saves on heavy load carrying.
+ 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, but we do not include this in the trip price, to leave this option available for those that want to walk. However, always budget for a flight out, even if you intend to walk.
It is possible to fly out from the lower Tasman Glacier (above De La Beche corner) by helicopter or ski plane (if landing conditions allow). This costs approximately NZ$600 by cessna ski plane, or NZ$800 by helicopter.
Walking down to the lower white ice can significantly lower costs. Prices will be further reduced if the aircraft can be shared with other climbers.
Flying out is an additional cost. Please budget for this.
Walking out is a physically demanding trip - a full day with heavy packs across the glacial moraine of the Tasman to a 4WD pickup.
If you walk out this must be done inside trip time. 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.
+ Alternative Climbing Options
Flexibility of goals is important. After you book we will keep you well informed if conditions change so 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:
- West face of Rumdoodle
- Langdale Buttress
- North Buttress of Darwin and Annan
- Aiguilles Rouges, via north Ridge
- Mount Chudleigh, Mount Hamilton, etc.
It is not possible to cancel your booking for a refund due to changing route conditions.
+ 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. Weather and conditions when your trip starts will help determine what is needed on the mountain.
Temperatures, weather, and snow conditions will vary. The geat list is designed to work around these changes.