AGL Skill

Difficulty
Endurance

Duration

5 Days

Ratio

1 : 1 or 1 : 2

Equipment

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Price

From $3,150 NZD

 

Mount Aspiring Expedition

Alpine Guides 5-day Mt Aspiring guided mountaineering expedition can be attempted by climbers with basic experience, via the North West Ridge (normal route). The classic SW Ridge offers a challenge for the more experienced.

Mount Aspiring (3,033 metres) is 180 kms south west of Aoraki Mount Cook, in Mount Aspiring National Park. It is the highest peak in the region, rising 2,500 metres from the Matukituki Valley floor. Mt Aspiring is often called the "Matterhorn of the Southern Alps", and when viewed from the West looks particularly impressive.

Climbing Routes and Guide Ratios

For Mount Aspiring Alpine Guides offers 1:1 and 1:2 ratio guided climbing options. See the Route Descriptions in the details below for specifics on for experience required and guide/participant ratios.

There is no ‘easy’ way to the summit. The standard North West Ridge route is a long day of climbing 1,220 vertical metres over 10-12 hours, including travel across glaciated terrain, and pitched climbing.

Route 1: The North West Ridge

This is the standard (normal) route. The climb takes 10 to 12 hours return from Colin Todd Hut (1,800 metres).

The route includes glacier travel, pitched climbing, and a 1,220 metre vertical ascent.

Guide to Participant Ratios 1:1 or 1:2

The 1:2 ratio applies only to climbs prior to 31 December (see details below).

 

Route 2: South West Ridge

On the serious and exposed South West Ridge we will only guide experienced climbers, those who have experience similar to our Technical Mountaineering Course (TMC), in addition to other alpine climbing.

A bivouac is normally required the night before the climb. The descent route is usually by the NW Ridge to Colin Todd Hut. Total time: approximately 12-14 hours.

Guide to participant ratio - strictly 1:1 only

Prices and Inclusions

 

Booking Conditions | Mount Aspiring

These special conditions are in addition to our standard booking terms and conditions. 

  • A period of 5 days is covered in the cost, even though the summit may be reached in less time. You have the option of retaining your guide and completing another climb or returning to Wanaka. No refund is due if you choose to finish early.

  • Extensions to the 5 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.

 

Hazards

Mountaineering on Mount Aspiring in the summer months has a relatively low objective hazard. The guide’s primary concern will always be safety. Decisions on route feasibility and conditions will always be based around this.


Expedition Details

+ Route Descriptions

North West Ridge Route

  • Maximum guide to participant ratio: 1 to 2 (1 or 2 participants per guide)

  • NZ Alpine Grade: 2+

  • Season: October to April

The North West ridge is the most commonly guided route on Mount Aspiring. The climb takes 10 to 12 hours return from Colin Todd Hut (1,220 metres).

The lower section of the mountain can be climbed either by “The Ramp” - pitched climbing up 40° snow; or up the Shipowner Ridge on mixed snow and rock (more rock as the season progresses).

The upper part of the mountain is climbed via the North West Ridge. This involves moderate snow and ice up to the summit. Your guide will usually short rope you up this, depending on conditions.

The descent is via the same route. It requires concentration and good crampon technique.

The 1:2 ratio option is only available for climbs prior to 31 December, when either the Ramp or Kangaroo Patch are still in condition.



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Experience Required

For the North West Ridge route we will guide participants with alpine climbing skills - at the approximate level of our Alpine Skills Course (ASC). A high level of fitness is also required. The 1:2 ratio is only offered prior to 31 December.

Prerequisites - North West Ridge at 1:1 ratio:

  • At least 5 days crampon experience, including 30º to 35º snow/ice

  • Competence on rock - seconding to AU 14 or US 5.7

  • Confidence scrambling with exposure

  • Ascents of 2 or 3 significant peaks involving some exposure (NZ Alpine 1+ to 2+)

  • High level of aerobic fitness - able to carry an 8 kg backpack 1,000 vertical metres in 3 hours.

Prerequisites - NW Ridge at 1 to 2 Ratio:

  • At least 10 days on crampons within the past 2 years

  • Experience climbing with 2 tools on 45º to 50º snow and ice

  • Experience of several 16-20 hour days on alpine ascents (NZ Alpine 1+ to 3)

  • Competence on rock - seconding to Australian 16, or US 5.8

  • High level of aerobic fitness - able to carry an 8 kg backpack 1,000 vertical metres in 2.5 hours

South West Ridge

  • Maximum guide to participant ratio: 1 to 1

  • NZ Alpine Grade: 3+

  • Season: October to January

Regarded as one of New Zealand’s classic ascents, the SW ridge is a challenging climbing mission for more experienced alpinists. The guiding ratio is at a strict 1:1.

Access on to the ridge is via the Bonar Glacier. We will normally bivouac high on the glacier (at about 2,200 metres) before the climb.

At a point about 150 metres below the summit the South West Ridge runs into a step couloir. This exposed section is climbed with 3 pitches on 55-60° snow and ice, before joining with the NW ridge and ice cap.

Because of snow conditions in the couloir the route is often in best condition earlier in the season (before end of December). The descent route is normally by the NW ridge, to Colin Todd hut. Total time is normally 12-14 hours.



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Experience Required

On South West Ridge we will guide experienced climbers, those who have experience similar to our Technical Mountaineering Course (TMC), in addition to other alpine climbing.

South West Ridge (1 to 1) ratio:

  • At least 10 days on crampons within the past 2 years

  • Experience climbing with 2 tools on 45º to 50º snow and ice

  • Experience of several 16-20 hour days on alpine ascents (NZ Alpine 1+ to 3)

  • Competence on rock - seconding to Australian 16, or US 5.8

  • High level of aerobic fitness - able to carry an 8 kg backpack 1,000 vertical metres in 2.5 hours

+ Access to Colin Todd Hut

Colin Todd Hut is located at the base of the North West ridge. It is a strenuous 1.5 day walk. Flying in makes best use of your available good weather.

By using helicopter access you can maximise your energy on the mountain, and the time spent climbing. Fresh food can also be taken in to add to the enjoyment of the expedition. After flying to Bevan Col there is an 1.5 hour walk to Colin Todd Hut, across the Bonar Glacier.

Camping may sometimes be required due to the limited bed capacity at Colin Todd Hut. Alpine Guides will provide tents and other camping gear, if required.

+ Meeting your guide at Wanaka

Lake Wanaka, and access to the Mount Aspiring region is 2 hours drive south of our base at Mount Cook. We will arrange a meeting place and time with your guide. Usually at your accommodation in Wanaka.

Important: if you need to rent or borrow Alpine Guides equipment you must advise us in advance. Your guide will bring the equipment you need.

Accommodation options in Wanaka.

The Mount Aspiring Expedition will start in Wanaka at 08:30 on the first day and finish at 17:00 on the last day.

Your guide will help organise your equipment at the start of your trip. This takes an average up to 2 hours. After an initial outline of the program and equipment check, you fly into the mountains at the first possible opportunity.

Read more on transport options to Wanaka here.

+ Egress from the mountains

It is possible to fly out from Bevan Col, but the usual practice is to walk out. This can either be via the Bevan Col route (a very long days walk and climb over difficult terrain) or to the Quarter Deck Glacier and then down French Ridge to French Ridge Hut.

The French Ridge route can take 1.5 to 2 days, and must be undertaken within the time frame of your trip. Your guide will decide which route is most suitable for weather, snow conditions, and your fitness at the time.

Helicopter cost from Bevan Col is approx. NZ$1050 if chartering the helicopter yourself. If other climbing parties are flying in or flying out at the same time, this cost may be significantly reduced.

+ Footwear and Walking out

After the descent into the Matukituki Valley floor, the walk to the vehicle pickup point at Raspberry Flat takes around 5 hours. This a pleasant hike down a river valley on a grass track - although with a sizeable pack on your back!

In this kind of terrain plastic mountaineering boots can be a bit much. If you want to use plastic boots for the climb we recommend carrying a pair of running shoes, or tough sports sandals for this section of the trip. These shoes can also be used as hut footwear

For late-season Mount Aspiring climbs, especially when climbing on the rocky North West Ridge route, leather technical mountaineering boots are recommended. These are a more comfortable walking option than plastics.

Read more about boots for mountaineering on our Gear Guide.

+ 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 gear list is designed to work around these changes.

Read more about seasonality, weather, and snow conditions here.

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