A mountain crag on generally immaculate rock only 15 minutes from the carpark. It sounds too good to be true, but what is most remarkable is that this cliff’s potential was not recognised until the late 1990s. Some of the trad and sport routes are among the best in the North Island.
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 Ngā Tohu Pinnacle Ridge, with views out towards Ngāuruhoe.
The first climbs used natural protection, not always easy to find or place but generally solid. Lines may not be obvious – if in doubt follow the protection. Take a full rack and a selection of slings. Double ropes may be helpful. Later development has tended to used bolts.
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.