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Popes Nose

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This small peak is a great vantage point and has a stomach sucking drop down the East Face. It is an exposed straightforward climb from the Bonar Glacier.

POINT (168.746126 -44.391543)
CA11 612 758
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Reference Title Grade Length Pro Quality Operations
 From Bonar Glacier, 2,I 2,I 0m

A short climb up steep snow slopes beneath and between the two peaks, then an airy traverse eastwards along the ridge. About five hours from French Ridge Hut.

  • P1
  • Alpine (Technical) 2
  • Alpine (Commitment) I

 North East Ridge, 15,3,III 15,3,III

Although the North East Ridge is steep, clean-cut, and appealing, it was not attempted until 1969. The ridge is gained from Moncrieff Col, to the upper shelf of the Volta Glacier. Continue up the snow until underneath the peak and following a sloping ledge back out to the south west to gain the ridge at the foot of the steep section. From here the climbing is sustained about grade 14-15 with wild exposure down the East Face. The rock is good, with an easier section high on the ridge followed by another short steep section immediately below the summit. The climb requires about six hours from Moncrieff Col to the peak. It is also possible to access the Volta from the Bonar by descending down between the two peaks of Popes Nose. Two rappels may be required. This route is only practicable if a large snow ramp is formed on the north side.

  • P1
  • 15
  • Alpine (Technical) 3
  • Alpine (Commitment) III

3 3Bishop’s Buttress, 17,V 17,V 0m

During summer the face is usually free of ice and good clean rock prevails. In the summer of 1999 Dave Vass, Richard Turner, Allan Uren and Clinton Beavan made the first summer ascents via different routes. Helicopter access was used.
Bishop’s Buttress is the buttress on the left side of the face and tops out on the Bonar Glacier, not the summit of Pope’s Nose. The first 8 or 9 pitches are up a corner system of perfect rock at grade 17. A standard rock rack was used. After a prominent tower the rock deteriorates, but could possibly be better if instead of going to the tower you trend right up a steep wall. The last four pitches are of poor rock and care is required not to end up on bird-brain boulevard.

  • P1
  • 17
  • Alpine (Commitment) V

4 4F*** the Pope, VI,6 VI,6 0m

The East Face is a fantastic sweep of compact dark schist with small roofs which lend it an air of impregnability. During winter this air hangs heavily around the face and lines of ice contribute to give it an unfriendly persona. This is what Nick Cradock, Brian Alder, Dave Fearnley and Lionel Clay were hoping to sample when they made the first ascent, during winter, of the face. The face had been attempted before by Nick and various partners, but they were thwarted by a lack of good ice. This seems to be a characteristic of the face. The first, and subsequent ascent parties have used a helicopter to access this very isolated place. A challenge still exists for a party to walk in and climb –a committing prospect.
This 18 pitch route is steepest in the lower section and weaves around linking up the runnels. With fatter ice it would be possible to take a more direct line. The first ascent party bivvied and, unless good conditions are encountered, a bivvy for successive parties will also be required because of the size of the route and short winter days.

  • P1
  • Alpine (Commitment) VI
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 6

5 5The Vision, 20,V 20,V

  • P1
  • 20
  • Alpine (Commitment) V

This is a fine line up the centre of the face on steep solid rock. Twelve technical pitches and then some scrambling to the Bonar Glacier.


Peter Dickson

The alpine grades applied to the routes The Vision and Bishops Buttress appear to be below established conventions for rock. I think a more appropriate grading would be VI

Fri, 13/01/2012 - 00:56 Permalink
Alen Uren & John Cocks, Photo: Colin Montieth, Hedgehog House.