Great Pinnacle

(16 routes)

The most impressive of the pinnacles when viewed from low on the ski area, the Great Pinnacle also holds the classic routes on the ridge, such as Chiming Bells and Grand Gully.

Walk time: 
30-90 min
-39.249270850000, 175.569376950000
T20 318 141
BJ34 217 524
Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
North Ridge
From Hut Flat, traverse out to the northeast below the big bluffs on the North West Face, to where straightforward climbing can position you on the ridge. A pleasant scramble follows along the rocky crest to the summit. Most enjoyable.
North West Face
This face has seen much activity. Beginning from Hut Flat it’s possible to do a reasonably straightforward ascent that avoids any major difficulties. Start up the middle of the face, heading up to the narrow left-tending gully that leads through the main section of bluffs. Above the bluffs, head back right, up the snowfield and the summit blocks.
Peanut Slab 40m
A nice mixed pitch up a slab, to the left of where the usual North West Face route climbs the gully through the main bluffs. Other mixed routes also exist on spurs below that gully.
Mike Peat, Matt Quirke, June 1990
Dribble WI2 30m
Short but quite steep in places, this tackles ice smears up the right side of the Northwest Face gully.
Mark Schafer, Mike Peat, Gwilym Griffith-Jones, May 1990
Smells Like White Spirit WI3 40m
The deep gully about 30m left of Chiming Bells. Climb steepening ground up the gully before tackling the ice curtain directly. The curtain rarely forms.
Tom Wilson and Steve Dowall climbed this line in August 2008
5 Chiming Bells WI2,WI2,WI2 150m
Perhaps the classic ice route on Ruapehu, this climb tackles ice runnels up the western face of the Great Pinnacle. Various options exist on each of the two waterfall pitches.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad

The obvious gully in the centre of the face.


Move right up a lower-angled ramp.


Climb ice smears at the head of the ramp to the upper snowfield.

Graeme Dingle, Roie Wardell, 1975
6 Chiming Bells Direct WI3
A steeper line, less often in good condition, starting about 10m right of the Original Line and continuing direct up steep ice, rather than moving right.
Graeme Dingle, Doug Wilson, 1980
7 Chiming Bells Left Variant WI2,WI3,WI2 150m
Begin up the Direct route, and climb up to the left end of the snow ramp.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad

Begin up the Direct route, and climb up to the left end of the snow ramp.


Traverse left a few metres and then up a vague rib (about 25 metres). Only really climbable in good ice years.


A final pitch to the snowfield keeps well left (north) of the Direct Variant.

Craig Miller, Martin Wright, 1994
Banana Split
From the bottom of Grand Gully climb the couloir that tops out below the first pitches of Chiming Bells. Best climbed as an alternative start to that route.
Mike Peat, Kristen Foley
Gorilla 30m
The main drainage line tucked away on Grand Gully’s left (northern) side, with two steep sections.
Graeme Dingle, winter 1970
10 Neanderthal 30m
Stay hard against the left wall of Grand Gully, up to the start of Gorilla.
Graeme Dingle, early 1970s
11 Grand Gully
The major feature when viewed from Whakapapa skifield, running directly from the valley floor to the col south of Great Pinnacle. The gully narrows and climbs some short steeper steps towards the top. Avalanches are a serious hazard in winter after snowfall. From the col at the top of Grand Gully, the Great Pinnacle is an intimidating prospect. The next two rouites describe two methods of reaching the summit.
12 Traverse of the Gods 60m
From the col, follow ledges across the face facing the skifield to reach the top of the Northwest Face. Exposed, but not difficult.
Tequila Sunrise 50m
Climb direct from the col. In winter conditions, an alternative is to drop down about 15m to the east into the start of a gully. You can traverse into the gully from the col, but starting lower makes a better, more sustained route. Climb back up the gully and then mixed ground to the top.
East Rib 11 100m
wire representing trad
From the ridge north of Great Pinnacle, traverse along eastern slopes to reach the base of a rock rib that climbs directly to summit. Easy rock for two pitches. A pleasant variation to a climb of Great Pinnacle. See also
First ascent unknown
RE Ruarimu Express M5
Mixed route up butress / edge of the wall between GP and GG. Fun conglomerate scratching where the ice runs out.
Greg Biezley, Ruari Macfarlane, 2021