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While this is the easiest and most climbed route on Aoraki/Mount Cook, it is also one of the most dangerous, being menaced by icecliffs. The lower glacier is often heavily crevassed and there is considerable danger from ice avalanches off the right (Divide) slopes. At the head of the glacier under the Gunbarrel (the prominent and active icecliffs of the Upper Linda), traverse left very quickly across the Linda Shelf to join Zurbriggen Ridge below the Summit Rocks (these provide access to the summit, which is over 400m above). A 150m gully that runs directly from the Linda Shelf to the start of the Summit Rocks is a popular alternative to traversing to the Zurbriggen junction. Climb the rocks - there is usually a series of ice gullies running up through the rocks which make for easier climbing. Late in the season parties may need to venture further toward the East Face. Once above the Summit Rocks follow the north-east ice cap to the summit. The easiest way to get onto the summit ridge is to traverse to the west, overlooking the North Ridge and Sheila Face, and climb a short step to follow a sustrugi filled ramp that leads to the top. Due to the 1991 avalanche the very top is probably not a smart place to stand and climbers are asked to respect the wishes of Ngai Tahu by not standing on the very top. The Linda Glacier is the most common descent route from Aoraki/Mount Cook. Most parties use two abseils (100m) when descending the Summit Rocks. As a result there can be a ‘Christmas tree’ of abandoned slings and other assorted anchors in the rock and ice. Check these thoroughly before using them for abseiling. There have been numerous falls on this part of the route. As a general rule, ascents of the ‘Linda’ take anywhere from 15-18hrs or more depending on conditions and the speed of the party. It’s a big day out in any language. To make sure it’s one to remember: get fit, plan, prepare and practice. If there are many parties intending to do the Linda (or Zurbriggen) - try to avoid a Summit Rocks bottleneck – and don’t forget your camera.
Hugh Chambers, Jack Clarke, Jim Murphy, Hugh Wright, February 1912.
Frank Milne, Norman Murrell, Rudolph Wigley, August 1923