West Wall

(7 routes)

The rock making up this 300m wall is again nothing short of sensational by local standards, offering overlapping plates and finger cracks. The Corsair also serves as an abseil descent route for all other routes on Mt Drake. To access the West Wall, follow the Astrolabe description and then continue up the scree/snow gully at the base of the wall, passing a bivvy sized rock, All the West Wall routes share the same scramble to the summit. The following routes are described from left to right.

Face (Alpine)
North West
Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
Physical Graffiti II 6+ 19 300m
Takes the first obvious recessed corner at the base of the face (bolt belay at ground level). The route keeps a constant distance from Astrolabe. Occasional bolt belays and runners. Balancy and technical climbing (crux 19).
Alex Palman, Peter Dickson, Feb 1989.
Buccaneer I 6+ 20 290m
This route starts on a ledge ~20m right of Physical Graffiti. The ledge houses two large flakes behind which plastic boots and tools can be stashed. Climb through the initial overhanging fist crack to the shelf above and continue up. At the Crows Nest Ledge, traverse 10m right to a corner and crack system, which trends back left. Follow this to the top of the wall (the Corsair route crosses at the top of the fifth pitch and finishes right). Occasional bolt belays and runners (crux 20).
Alex Palman, Peter Dickson, Feb 1989.
Corsair I 6+ 22 280m
This route also serves as an abseil descent. Start on the same ledge as for the Buccaneer but climb up flakes through the overhang to the right. Move right to a crack and follow to a double bolt belay. Climb the headwall to the Crows Nest Ledge and then up to a belay shared with the Buccaneer. Climb the face left of the belay and past a bolt runner to a double bolt belay. Head through the crux (22): two bulging overlaps (bolt & wire) to another DB belay (crux can be avoided by traversing into the Buccaneer). Finally, move up a finger crack right of the Buccaneer off-width. Technical and sustained.
Peter Dickson, Alex Palman, Feb 1989.
No Push, No Baby 17 , 20 95m
wire representing trad
A good two-pitch route that ends at the Crows Nest Ledge. Take the large crack system right of the Corsair.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad

A good two-pitch route that ends at the Crows Nest Ledge. Take the large crack system right of the Corsair.


The second pitch trends left up a steep layback crack

Alex Palman, Peter Dickson, Mar 2000.
Spanish Armada 5+ 18
A buttress to the right of the West Wall. The line runs up just left of the crest. The route has good rock and is 5-6 pitches long to the ridge line. From here one can traverse to the summit of Drake (and descend via the Corsair route) or descend the Bamaphone route (crux 17/18).
Carol McDermott, Steve Moore, Mar 1988.
Bamaphone Route 4- 13
Starts from the highest point of the snow slope. Up the corner and edge right of the Spanish Armada. Rappel the route or continue to the summit. About 5 pitches, crux 13.
Dave Bamford, John Nankervis, Feb 1980.
Original Route 4-
Ascends the rock face between the Bamaphone route and the rightmost limit of Drakes West and North West Ridges. The rock is good, but there is a dodgy argillite band at the start. The route arrives on the West Ridge 4-5 pitches from the summit (easy scrambling). Unique views of Kupe and the Lower Balfour as well as the La Perouse Glaciers can be gained. A short and easy rock climb.
Nick Von Tunzelmann, A Bowden, Bob Cunninghame, Alex Parton, Jan 1967.
Alex Palman

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