Frequently Asked Questions

How do I add a route?

Here’s a short guide explaining how to add a route to the database.

Check if the route is already here

The easiest way to do this is to enter the route name in the Search box on the top right of the page. Be careful to spell it correctly. If you’re still not sure, look for the place (crag, peak, etc) that it might belong to and check if it’s listed there. Still nothing? You’re good to go.

Where should the route go?

Now, figure out what place your route should be attached to. If a place doesn't already exist, you'll need to create one. Iʻll create a page on how to create places shortly, but for now, just notice that each of these places in the hierarchy is a different type. For example:

New Zealand = Country
North Island = Area
Tongariro = National Park
Mangatepopo = Valley
Bomb Bay Cliff = Crag

If there are a lot of routes at a crag, you can break it down further by adding 'Walls'. For example, at Mangatepopo the Tuwharetoa Cliffs consists of three walls: the Upper and Lower Tiers and Tainui Cliff.

The example I'm going to use is Bomb Arête on Mangatepopo crag, so now I'll navigate my way there:
Home > NZ > North Island > Tongariro > Mangatepopo > Bomb Bay Cliff.

To create a new route, click the orange “Add a Route” button.

Filling out the information fields

  • Reference: If you’re planning to add a photo with your route marked on it, give the route a number on the topo and then put that number in the “Reference” field.
  • Name: Yep, the name of your route.
  • Type: There are five route types. Choose the one that fits your route best, and remember that the grading options you get depend on the route type.
  • Pitch: If your route is a single pitch, or if it’s more than one and you want to describe every pitch, you’ll be spending a bit of time in this box. My route has three pitches, so I’ll start with pitch one. Because I chose “Rock” for my route type, my grading options are “Ewbank” and “Aid”. There’s more about grades in this FAQ: see How are alpine routes graded and How do rock grades in New Zealand compare to other grading systems? Then put the pitch length, if you know it, how many bolts it has (if any), and if there is any trad gear, tick the “Trad” box. Write a description for the pitch in the “Description” box.
    To add another pitch, click the orange “Add Another Pitch” button and repeat the process.
  • First Ascent: Use this style, with commas between each item and no full stop: Louise Friend, Jeremy Nut, August 2012
  • Quality: Up to you how many stars to give your route. (We’re hoping soon to be able to let everyone cast their votes on this question!)
  • Multi-pitch Description: Many alpine routes and scrambles aren’t pitched, or if they are there’s no need to describe every one. Or you might want to add a general description to a multi-pitch route. In all those cases, add something here.

Okay, we’re nearly done. Here’s the rest of the page:

  • Route Image: If you have a picture or the route, upload it here. (As with all information here, be sure that it is either yours or that you have permission to add it to this site. And make sure you are happy with the Creative Commons licence that governs all the material here.)
  • Grade: Usually the grade is automatically entered from the pitch information. If your route has an overall grade and you haven’t described pitches, go back up to the pitch field and enter the grade(s) there.
  • Length: Pitch lengths will be added up automatically, so no need to put anything here. To enter a total route length when you haven’t described pitches, do it up in the pitch field.
  • Bolts: Again, this is calculated from the pitch fields.
  • Attribution: As it says, please credit the original author or source – even if it’s you!

And that’s pretty much it. The other subheadings can be ignored for now. (Check them out if you’re interested though, and I’ll try and write something to explain what they do another time.)

All that remains is to click the orange “Save” button at the bottom of the page. Now have a look at what you’ve done. If anything doesn’t look quite right, it’s simple to click the “Edit” tab and go back to fix it up.

Have fun!

How do I reorder the list of routes on a crag or peak?

To order the Routes for a Place, first navigate to the Place: For example, to change the order of routes on the South Face of Mt Talbot, go here:

Now click the “Children” tab:

From here you can drag and drop the routes into the correct order using the cross symbols on the left of the route list.

When you are happy with the order, click the orange "Save child order" button and you’re done.

How do rock grades in New Zealand compare to other grading systems?

Rock climbs in New Zealand are graded using the open-ended Ewbank system, developed by the Australian John Ewbank in the mid 1960s.
Some comparison charts are here:

How are alpine routes graded?

Climbers have used many different systems to grade alpine routes in New Zealand. Here is a brief outline of the various systems, along with a few recommendations.

Mt Cook system

Traditionally the main system has been the Mt Cook system, first used by Hugh Logan in his 1982 The Mt Cook Guidebook. Grades currently go from 1 to 7 with + and – variations. Factors determining the grade are (in descending order of importance): technical difficulty, objective danger, length, and access.

  • Grade 1: Easy scramble. Use of rope generally only for glacier travel.
  • Grade 2: Steeper trickier sections may need a rope.
  • Grade 3: Longer steeper sections generally. Use of technical equipment necessary. Ice climbs may require two tools.
  • Grade 4: Technical climbing. Knowledge of how to place ice and rock gear quickly and efficiently a must. Involves a long day.
  • Grade 5: Sustained technical climbing. May have vertical sections on ice.
  • Grade 6: Multiple crux sections. Vertical ice may not have adequate protection. Good mental attitude and solid technique necessary. May require a bivvy on route and be a long way from civilization.
  • Grade 7: Vertical ice/rock which may not have adequate protection. Rock grades in the high 20s (Ewbank). Climb may be in remote area. May require a bivvy on route.

Darrans system

The Darrans system was introduced by Alan Uren and Craig Jefferies to grade winter routes in their The Darran Mountains guidebook (2006). This system introduces a ‘commitment’ grade to indicate the overall seriousness of a route, alongside technical grades.

  • I–II: A short to medium day; generally low risk of objective danger on access, route and descent; relatively close to shelter (camp or hut).
  • III: A long day; moderate objective danger possible on access, route and descent; may be several hours from hut or camp.
  • IV: Speed and efficiency needed to complete in a day; access, route and descent may involve known objective hazards; may require lengthy return to hut or camp.
  • V: Bivvy gear required; access, route and descent may require lengthy exposure to objective hazards; may require lengthy return to hut or camp.
  • VI: Multi-day route; access, route and descent may require lengthy exposure to objective hazards which may be difficult to assess; no helicopter access possible; may require lengthy return to hut or camp, or descent into adjoining catchment.

For snow, ice and mixed climbing, technical ratings broadly match those listed above in the Mt Cook system. Rock difficulties are rated using the Ewbank system (see below). Aid, water ice (WI) and mixed (M) systems may also be employed.

For technical alpine routes (about grade 4 and above on the Mt Cook system) this is now the recommended system to use in the New Zealand mountains.


The open-ended Ewbank system grades the technical difficulty of rock climbs in Australia and New Zealand.


Aid climbing is rare in the New Zealand mountains. ‘Original’ rather than ‘New Wave’ aid ratings are used. (See the American Alpine Journal grade comparison chart.)

  • A0: Occasional aid moves often done without aiders (etriers) or climbed on fixed gear.
  • A1: All placements are solid and easy.
  • A2: Good placements, but sometimes tricky.
  • A3: Many difficult, insecure placements, but with little risk.
  • A4: Many placements in a row that hold nothing more than body weight.
  • A5: Enough body-weight placements in a row that one failure results in a fall of at least 20 metres.

Water Ice

Water Ice (WI) grades are usually applied to shorter pure ice routes, but may be useful to grade the technical difficulty of ice on alpine routes. Grade indications are from the American Alpine Journal grade comparison chart.

  • WI1: Low angle ice; no tools required.
  • WI2: Consistent 60º ice with possible bulges; good protection.
  • WI3: Sustained 70º with possible long bulges of 80º–90º; reasonable rests and good stances for placing screws.
  • WI4: Continuous 80º ice fairly long sections of 90º ice broken up by occasional rests.
  • WI5: Long and strenuous, with a ropelength of 85º-90º ice offering few good rests; or a shorter pitch of thin or bad ice with protection that’s difficult to place.
  • WI6: A full ropelength of near-90º ice with no rests, or a shorter pitch even more tenuous than WI 5. Highly technical.


M grades are used when dry tooling – climbing rock (and usually also ice) with crampons and ice tools. Grade indications are from the American Alpine Journal grade comparison chart.

  • M1–3: Easy. Low angle; usually no tools.
  • M4: Slabby to vertical with some technical dry tooling.
  • M5: Some sustained vertical dry tooling.
  • M6: Vertical to overhanging with difficult dry tooling.
  • M7: Overhanging; powerful and technical dry tooling; less than 10m of hard climbing.
  • M8: Some nearly horizontal overhangs requiring very powerful and technical dry tooling; bouldery or longer cruxes than M7.
  • M9: Either continuously vertical or slightly overhanging with marginal or technical holds, or a juggy roof of 2 to 3 body lengths.
  • M10: At least 10 metres of horizontal rock or 30 meters of overhanging dry tooling with powerful moves and no rests.
  • M11: A ropelength of overhanging gymnastic climbing, or up to 15 metres of roof.
  • M12: M11 with bouldery, dynamic moves and tenuous technical holds.
Why is the Alpine Club leading this?

First of all, we need to make it clear that this project is for the whole community. Check out the terms of the Creative Commons License we use, to see how anyone can re-use the information under appropriate terms.

Supporting Climbing, Improving Access and Encouraging a Climbing Community are key goals of the NZAC. Just as the bolting fund helps motivated people put up routes to benefit all, this website can help motivated people publish information to benefit all of us.

The NZAC has the resources to start this off and keep it going. The NZAC have information that could be shared better and a network of volunteers to support this in the long term. Keeping something like this going long term is hard work.

What are the long term plans?

Keep the community updating information, and keep sharing it with everyone. Supporting climbing, improving access and encouraging a climbing community.

Why has the Alpine Club retained rights to authorise commercial use?

We don’t know what the future will hold, and we want to ensure we are in a position to support uses of the information that are in the best interests of the community. Perhaps someone wants to spend time to develop a commercial guidebook or iPhone Application in the future, we don’t want to be in a situation where we can’t support it. Of course, non-commercial use is permitted under the terms of the Creative Commons License.

This site is a beta version.