A mountain crag on generally immaculate rock, with several multi-pitch routes and only 15 minutes from the carpark. It sounds almost too good to be true, but what is most remarkable is that this cliff’s potential was not recognised until the late 1990s.
The crag forms, in effect, the long reverse side of the lava dike of Mead’s Wall. Sniffed out by inveterate crag hound Paul Rogers while he was on a tour of duty at the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre, the crag faces east, sitting high above the deep gulch of the Whakapapa River and beneath the sharp outline of Pinnacle Ridge, with views out towards Ngauruhoe.
Initially, all the climbs were naturally protected. These lines require double ropes, and not all the gear is easy to find or place. Lines can be rather vague: if in doubt, follow the protection. A full rack is necessary, as well as a good selection of slings.
Later development has used bolts, in most cases where there is no natural protection. This is not a sport climbing crag, and bolts should be placed only where absolutely necessary.
There has been – and remains – some confusion about who has climbed what here. Several route names were bestowed by the editor of the NZAC’s Tongariro guidebook. First ascentionists may wish to supply their own!
From the Top o’ the Bruce, walk east towards Mead’s Wall and then turn north up Te Herenga Ridge a short distance before sidling down on a rough track across the eastern slope. The track peters out at the top of the crag; continue northwards above the cliffs down to the end of the bluff line and then back up under the crag.
Descent off routes is either by abseil or by walking back around the north end of the cliff to the bottom.