On this page:
Rock and Alpine modes
Use the toggle switch at the top right of the page to choose from Rock or Alpine mode, depending on what kind of climbing you want to do. On mobile it's in the three-bar menu, top right.
Hint: Rock is for cragging routes. A rock climb on a mountain with an involved approach will be an Alpine route.
Using the Route Finder on the home page, you can quickly narrow down the climbs and locations you are looking for.
Choose from criteria such as type of route, area and grade.
Route types help find the climb you are looking for.
In Rock mode, choose from Boulder, Sport or Trad:
- Boulders have V grades.
- Sport routes have only bolts.
- Trad routes are either all on trad gear or a mix of trad gear and bolts.
Some routes are currently undefined. That's either because they aren't checked as trad routes or don't have the number of bolts recorded. If you're able to update the information, please log in and edit the route details.
In Alpine mode:
- Alpine routes have either a commitment or a Mt Cook grade.
- Alpine Rock routes have a rock (Ewbank) grade.
- Ice/Mixed routes are shorter ‘crag’ routes with a water ice and/or a mixed grade.
The results of selections in the Route Finder are displayed on the Route Index page.
You can also reach this page directly from ‘Routes’ in the top menu.
Here you can view and re-order your selection and modify it with additional search options.
We recommend using the tool at topoeditor.com to create route topos. Save your topos as jpeg files. We are working on an interactive topo solution.
A map on the home page map shows crag locations (Rock mode) and mountains (Alpine mode). More map functions are planned.
In Alpine mode, a Range, Mountain, Face or Pass page can link to pages showing the valleys used for access, to give a quick link to access information. (This information is still being updated. Access information for specific routes will be added over time.
Something not working?
- Improving how the site provides information and updates about access or access restrictions, hazards and other alerts.
- Integration with user accounts through alpineclub.org.nz
- Ability to record and share your climbs
- Make your own lists of routes and places
- Interactive topos
Find a route, find a place
There are different search options to find the route or place you want.
If you know what you’re looking for, type the name into the Search box in the top menu. Autocomplete is enabled.
Using the Route Finders
The home page Finders are a quick way to search by route type, location and grade.
In Rock mode, choose from:
- Boulder, Sport or Trad routes
- Area and Crag
- Grade range (V grade or Ewbank)
In Alpine mode, choose from:
- Alpine, Alpine Rock or Ice/Mixed routes
- Area and Range
- Grade range (Commitment or Mt Cook)
Once you choose your options, click View Routes and the results are displayed on the Route Index page.
Using the map
The home page maps display Crags (in Rock mode) and Mountains (in Alpine mode).
Route Indexes list the routes that match your search options and have additional options to refine your search. Either use the Finder for some initial options, or choose Routes from the header options.
In Rock mode there are additional search options:
- Choose specific Sectors (walls or boulders) at a crag
- Choose route quality
- Sort routes by location, name, length, quality, type and pro
In Alpine mode there are additional search options:
- Choose a Mountain, Face, Pass or Valley
- Choose additional grade ranges (Alpine technical, Rock (Ewbank), Water Ice, Mixed)
- Choose route quality
- Sort results by location, name, quality and type
Adding and updating information
Logged in users can add and update route and place information.
How are rock routes graded?
Rock climbs in New Zealand are graded using the open-ended Ewbank (Australian) system, developed by the Australian John Ewbank in the mid 1960s.
Boulders are graded using the open-ended V-scale (Hueco) system from V0. In New Zealand, VE and VM are used to grade easier problems.
How do rock grades in New Zealand compare to other grading systems?
Some comparison charts are here:
How are alpine routes graded?
Seriousness and Technical grades
These are the recommended grades for New Zealand alpine routes. Other grades, for Rock, Mixed, Water Ice, or Aid can be added as required. The single variable "Mt Cook" system is still used in some regions.
The Seriousness Grade is the most important grade from an overall mountaineering perspective. It takes into account (in no particular order): the objective hazards throughout the climb; how easy or difficult it is to retreat; the importance of good route finding; the length of the route; and whether or not the easiest descent is on familiar ground.
The start point for a climb is referred to as a 'base', which is considered to be the nearest hut or safe campsite. Climbs starting from remote bases will have a slightly higher Seriousness grade. Whether you walk in or fly in doesn’t affect the grade, but if you walk in, kudos to you.
- I Close to civilization with non-technical access and no significant objective hazards. Simple to reverse. Requires good navigation in poor visibility and familiarity with movement in the mountains.
- II Generally climbed in a half day to a full day close to a base. Likely to need skills relating to crevasse rescue, abseiling, and placing snow/ice/rock anchors. Descent is probably the same route as ascent, i.e. on familiar ground. No unusual objective hazards.
- III Moderate to long routes close to a base, or shorter routes a few hours from a base. Can be reversed but this may involve brief sections with tricky downclimbing or abseiling. Easiest descent could be different from ascent route, but if so is straightforward. There could be short sections exposed to significant objective hazards.
- IV Getting into the big stuff now. Requires sound mountaineering judgement and experience to complete with a good level of safety and to manage objective hazards. Could be long, but if so should be straightforward to reverse. Routes at this grade that are not so long may require multiple abseils to reverse, or may involve a traverse of the peak to get to an easier descent route.
- V Very long routes close to a base, or moderate length routes in a fairly remote area. Likely to be very tricky to reverse. Easiest descent is moderately complicated and is probably different from ascent route. Access, climb, or descent could involve significant objective hazards.
- VI Routes at this grade are generally very long, and are challenging to reverse even for very experienced climbers. Potentially major objective hazards. The best descent route is likely to be complicated, and a night out is likely for most parties.
- VII Very experienced, strong climbers will have a tough climb. Start of route is remote and route is very long. Objective hazards could be severe. Retreating from the route would be difficult and would put you back in a serious spot. Easiest descent is probably very complicated and involves a traverse of the peak.
The Technical Grade takes into account the difficulty of the actual climbing moves. It considers both the crux and how sustained the route is. A ‘+’ symbol is used to indicate a greater level of difficulty. The Technical Grade may be increased slightly if the rock quality is poor.
Most people, even experienced climbers, overestimate the angle of the slope they’re on by 10 to 15 degrees. This means that the angles mentioned below are more serious than they sound.
- 1 Snow up to 25° and/or low angled rock scrambling.
- 2 Sustained snow of 30° to 35° or moderately steep rock scrambling, and/or may have a brief section of 50° snow/ice or exposed rock. Ridge travel may have brief exposed sections.
- 3 Sustained snow of 40° to 45° or sustained steep rock scrambling, and/or may have a short step of ice, or a pitch of 60° snow or grade 10-11 rock. Ridge travel may involve some tricky gendarmes or very exposed sections.
- 4 Sustained snow/ice of 50° to 55° or sustained grade 10-12 rock, and/or may have crux sections of WI3 ice, M3 mixed, or grade 13-14 rock. Ridge travel likely to involve massive exposure or numerous steep gendarmes.
- 5 Sustained 60° to 65° ice/mixed climbing or grade 13-15 rock, and/or may have crux sections of WI4 ice, M4 mixed, or grade 16-17 rock.
- 6 Sustained WI3 to WI3+ ice, M3-4 mixed, or grade 16-18 rock, and/or may have crux sections of WI4+ to WI5 ice, M5 mixed, or grade 19-20 rock.
- 7 Sustained WI4 to WI4+ ice, M5 mixed, or grade 19-20 rock, and/or may have crux sections of WI5+ ice, M6 mixed, or grade 22-23 rock.
- 8 Sustained WI5 to WI5+ ice, M6 mixed, or grade 22-23 rock, and/or may have crux sections of M7 mixed or grade 25-26 rock.
Mixed, Water Ice and Aid grades
Mixed grades (M) are used when dry tooling – climbing rock (and usually also ice) with crampons and ice tools. Water Ice (WI) grades are usually applied to shorter pure ice routes, and may be useful to indicate the technical difficulty of ice on alpine routes. Aid climbing is rare in the New Zealand mountains. ‘Original’ rather than ‘New Wave’ aid ratings are used.
More on grade indications and comparisons is at:
Mt Cook grades
The Mt Cook system was first used by Hugh Logan in the Mt Cook Guidebook (1982). 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.
- 1: Easy scramble. Use of rope generally only for glacier travel.
- 2: Steeper trickier sections may need a rope.
- 3: Longer steeper sections generally. Use of technical equipment necessary. Ice climbs may require two tools.
- 4: Technical climbing. Knowledge of how to place ice and rock gear quickly and efficiently a must. Involves a long day.
- 5: Sustained technical climbing. May have vertical sections on ice.
- 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.
- 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.