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|Pinnacle Ridge Traverse||
The complete traverse of the Pinnacle Ridge is one of the best alpine adventures in the North Island. Here is what Geoff Sweet and John Edwards had to say, after making the traverse in February 1954: “The climb is varied and technically interesting over most parts, but by no means as difficult as many people make out. Rock is sound over practically the entire traverse and there are any number of sound and adequate belays. Probably the most satisfying traverse is from north to south, as this involves the descent of the south face of the lowermost pinnacle — possibly the crux of the climb. It is possible to keep on the crest the entire way.” Although nowhere extremely difficult, the traverse is a reasonably long, exposed and continuous undertaking. Allow a full day. Nowadays the favoured procedure is to start at the top and move down. Climbing the Great Pinnacle direct from the Grand Gully col is not nearly as grim as it looks, but the Traverse of the Gods is an easier alternative. Obviously, climbing the ridge in reverse is also possible. Parts of the traverse can be completed; it is straightforward to access or descend from the ridge via Grand Gully or Gully 2. Although it is a classic route at any time of year, the traverse is best made in winter as a mixed route.
Horace Holl, Frederick Worley, 1925; Margaret Fyfe, Graham McCallum, July 1949 (first winter traverse)
Nga Tohu Pinnacle Ridge
Arriving at the Top o’ the Bruce, all climbers’ eyes will immediately be drawn to the sharp outlines of Pinnacle Ridge, marching down the mountain along the eastern edge of Whakapapa skiﬁeld. There are three main pinnacles: from north to south they are Great Pinnacle, Second Pinnacle and First Pinnacle. Some of the best climbs on the mountain are right here.
Accessibility, though, does not mean the Pinnacles do not need to be taken seriously. The peaks are over 2000 metres high and exposed to ferocious weather; the gullies can harbour extreme avalanche risks, especially after winter storms.
Geologically the oldest part of the mountain, this spectacularly sharp ridge belies the reality of Ruapehu’s volcanic origins. The ridge has long been a favoured destination for alpine climbers visiting Ruapehu, Much of the terrain is best described as mixed. The rock is generally sound – certainly better than it appears at ﬁrst glance – although protection can be hard to ﬁnd. A selection of slings will be useful. There are a number of ice routes on the Pinnacles, although being at a relatively low altitude they do not come into condition every year.