Skip to main content

Mt Unicorn

Part of

All routes are currently on the Strauchon Face.
The routes on Unicorn are harder and more exposed than those on Dilemma.
Getting off Dilemma:
The easiest way off Dilemma avoids the East Peak and rotten rock. From the West Peak scramble down the eastern edge of the Strauchon Face for 150m, then drop down a diagonal ledge system to snow 100 metres below. If the ledges are snowed up, abseil from the first notch between West and East Peaks, anchors in-situ (grade 2). Traverse across and up to a rock gendarme on the Main Divide, 100m north of Beatrice. Follow a snow ridge on the western side, passing under rock on the divide. At a rock rib that cuts westward, climb back to the divide, crossing it, and descend on the Hooker Valley side, traversing below the divide. This cross-over point is crucial. Continue along the crest over broken rock to Baker Saddle. It is also theoretically possible to rappel the Direttissima Route of Mt Dilemma. This is not recommended as it would take all day and the bolts could be difficult to find, especially at night.
Other options: If descending from Beatrice, drop onto eastern snow slopes (go south first if necessary) and continue along snow to Baker Saddle.

POINT (170.0848459 -43.62563814)
BX15 648 656
Accessed from
Add Place Add Route


Reference Title Grade Length Pro Quality Operations
 Classical Gas, 18,VI,6 18,VI,6 1400m

  • P1
  • 18
  • Alpine (Commitment) VI
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 6
  • 1400m
  • Trad

Ascend the left face of Unicorn following a distinct diagonal crack system which passes just left of the arching overhang. Start in the middle of the face, left of corners, up face to snow ledge. From ledge begin left of main diagonal crack, move up and gain it as soon as practical. Follow line to summit ridge, traversing to the right at the top of face to the summit. Very sustained rock climbing.

 Original Route, 16,5 16,5

  • P1
  • 16
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 5

As for the Direct Route of Mt Dilemma, until the shingle rib is gained. From here move right into the major couloir and up for roughly 200m (beware of rockfall), then head left up the rock, towards an enormous corner where the left (main) face begins. Climb the left hand edge of the face immediately right of the corner to gain a large flattish snowfield, 300m below the top. There are good bivvy sites here. Climb the face above via crack systems that tend left to reach the ridge 60m below the summit (crux 16). Other variations are possible at the top.

 Bestial Passion, 15,5+ 15,5+

  • P1
  • 15
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 5+

From the major couloir beneath the face climb up to the snowfield at the base of the great corner. Climb a hand crack 10-15 metres left of the big corner. After sustained climbing (crux 15) the crack runs out. Traverse right through the big corner at an obvious weakness to gain the flattish snowfield, and then to the top of the face via the Gledhill route.

 West Ridge

  • P1

Similar to the top of the Strauchon Face

 Rainbow, 17 17

Very nice rockclimbing above the snowpatch - Pity you have to get there, and get off somehow. Accessed via Banks range traverse (relatively serious in it's own right). To gain the snowpatch, it might be better to follow the large crack system up after p1, rather than trend left (with a rap), as the rock below the snowpatch is loose and prone to rockfall.
The great corner is a deathtrap since the top fell off. If descending by rapping into it and climbing out to the East Peak, expect every manner of loose blocks & dirt, to a steady accompaniment of spontaneous rockfall. The ridge doesn't look flash either but it's hard to imagine it being worse...

  • P1
  • 17
  • Trad

8 pitches.

Peter Dickson

I changed the alpine grading of Classical Gas from 6- to straight 6 to reflect its relative difficulty and seriousness to the RH Butress on the Nth Face of Hicks. It should always be the same alpine grade (at least) as the Hicks route.
I would like the rock crux to be listed as sustained multiple grade 17. Leave it up to the 2nd ascenionists to sort out the gradings going forward...

Thu, 01/09/2011 - 19:06 Permalink
Peter Dickson

The rock grades that Bill tended to put on his climbs are 1-2 numbers lower than how difficult the climbs actually feel.

Classical Gas is a 17 going on 18 type of climb.

Wed, 31/08/2011 - 16:29 Permalink
Alex Palman