According to William Mead, Pehi Turoa was a Whanganui chief who knew the western side of Ruapehu well and had a whare between Ruapehu and Hauhangatahi, which he used on hunting trips early in the twentieth century.
Pehi’s Bluff is the dome of jointed, columnar lava that can be seen on the south-western skyline as you drive up towards the Top o’ the Bruce. The crag faces north-east, with expansive views out across the western volcanic plateau. But it is an alpine environment, sitting at around 1700m. Be prepared for changes in the weather.
The routes are at a relatively easy angle, well protected and with moderate grades; it is a good venue for climbers wishing to practise leading on natural gear.
Stu Allan, with OPC students, was the first to climb here in 1977. Other OPC and park staff followed, including Doug Wilson, Ann Louise Mitcalfe, Neil Clifton and Ray Button. At least 10 routes were done, including the brilliant Tawhitikuri. Pehi’s Bluff is now visited mostly for instruction by OPC, but deserves to be more widely known.
There are no fixed anchors at the crag: double ropes may be useful as belay anchors can be some distance back from the tops of the routes. Descent is by scrambling along the blocky crest of the ridge towards Ruapehu.
There are two ways to reach the crag. Best and easiest, though slightly longer, is to start from the Round-the-Mountain carpark at Scoria Flat on the Bruce Road. The crag can be seen as a prominent lava outcrop on the skyline to the south-west. Walk south along the track until it veers west to sidle up to the ridge separating the Whakapapaiti valley. Climb up on to the ridge and continue up this until the crag is reached at about 1700m.
Alternatively, walk directly west for about 2km from the Top o’ the Bruce carpark; this is reasonably rough travel over old lava flows and gullies.
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