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North Ridge

First ascent
Bruce Harrison, Nick Von Tunzelmann, Aat Vervoorn, Dec 1964.
Nick Cradock, winter 1991.
Located on

A magnificent climb involving 2400m of height gain from Douglas Rock Hut.
From the hut, travel 20-30min up the Copland track, then climb scree and avalanche debris nest to the Jasper Glacier Stream. Ascend the slabs true right of the stream (don't drift true left on the slabs or you'll get dizzy), which merge into easier angled scree at about 1600m (bivy sites possible before the ridge proper), and then gain the crest of the north ridge. Above here are three prominent rock buttresses, which are generally broad, with several route possibilities. The rock 'isn't bad'. The climbing mostly involves exposed scrambling with some short steps. The true ridge offers the easiest climbing through the buttresses with difficulties often overcome on the east side. Most parties appreciate using a rope, in at least one location. (An alpine rack of 5 nuts and 3-4 cams is often sufficient with good route finding).
Above the buttress, the ridge flattens out (another good bivy site) before merging into a glacial bulge. There is sometimes an icecliff here. Above the icecliffs, ascend a vague snow rib to reach a shelf just below the summit. Follow your nose to the top.
Confidence in climbing un-roped on exposed ground for the majority of this route is required. It is too long to pitch the whole route. The FA party completed the route within a day return to Douglas rock. It has more recently been completed in two days from the road end.
Beware - tales of epic retreats abound, including rapping off the leashes of ice-axes when getting low on gear to leave behind.
Descent is usually via Welcome Pass to Scott Creek or Bluewater route. (Scott Creek may be a preferable descent if you can find the single bolt rappels).

  • P1
  • 14
  • Alpine (Technical) 3+
  • Alpine (Commitment) V

Description - Aoraki Tai Poutini, a guide for mountaineers. Rob Frost.
Photos - Romain Sacchettini 2016, can be reproduced with permission.