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Mt Wakefield


Mt Wakefield has been described as the focal point of
Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, and it certainly
feels that way when you take in the view from the summit
on a fine day.
A fast descent alternative to the south ridge in dry conditions is a scree slope from 1550m that drops directly to the valley floor. There are a number of glued moraine esque gullies that drop onto it, but the one at 1550m is the most mellow. There is also a large boulder at the top of the ~20m gully that a rope could be looped over to allow a rap onto the scree directly, but this should be executed with care to avoid rockfall, and certainly not during or after rain. See topo for entry point.

POINT (170.17427444 -43.77561812)
BY16 726 492
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Reference Title Grade Length Pro Quality Operations
1.12 1.12Routeless Guide, 12,3+,III 12,3+,III

  • P1
  • 12
  • Alpine (Technical) 3+
  • Alpine (Commitment) III

The most direct line to Wakefields summit. From the viewpoint at the end of the Hooker Valley Track, access the nearest scree fan descending from Mt Wakefield ( the second large scree fan on the east side of the Hooker valley) Start on a compact sandstone staircase (grade 10-12 max), then follow a broken ridge to the cliff bands, which are the crux of the climb. Trend right from the flat col at the top of the ridge on superb weathered greywacke to behind the obvious pink notch on the right edge of the cliff bands. This bypasses them via another sandstone staircase (crux grade 12) then finishes on easier ground and gullies to the summit. Numerous direct lines through the cliff bands exist with rock quality varying between take-home-with-you and excellent, with adequate protection available with cams 0.5-2. See topo for bypass route and variations.

1.13 1.13Ranger Route a.k.a Guideless Buttress, 8,3,III 8,3,III 800m

First climbed by local DOC staff in the summer of 2013, this 800m route offers some of the finest alpine scrambling near the village: enjoyable rock with some fantastic views and exposure. A fun and challenging day trip.Crux Grade 8.
The route climbs the buttress on the opposite side of the scree fan from Rootless Guide. Either start directly up the base of the buttress, which is steep and scrubby, or head further right and follow up a stream that gains the crest of the buttress at about 1250m. Negotiate multiple towers and gendarmes to where the buttress eases off to lower angle rubble and the broad upper basins of Mt Wakefield, exiting just under the radio towers at 2000m. A more challenging direct route 18/19 start has been climbed higher up the scree ( Ainsworth 2018)

  • P1
  • 8
  • Alpine (Technical) 3
  • Alpine (Commitment) III
  • 800m
  • Trad

1.14 1.14Wakefield Gullies - Various grades

A number of gullies on both sides of the South West
Ridge have been climbed when filled with snow and
ice. The first major scree fan in the East Hooker is one
of these, known as the Winter Western Gully. The gullies just past the second swing bridge have also
been climbed, one by Joe Friend and Colin Monteath
in 1972, known as the Gully of a Thin Man.
The gully that begins at the large scree
downstream of the second swingbridge, on the
south side of the South West Ridge, is called Bad
Obsession, and the right-hand variant (looking
up) to this gully is called Psych Ward. These latter
gullies are also used as (bold!) ski lines. They
encounter steep terrain at about 1700m, which
could be unclimbed, as it’s possible to abort by
traversing either right or left. Details about these
routes are scarce; it is hoped that more information
will eventually be available on

1.15 1.15South West Ridge (Guides Route), 2+,II 2+,II

The ridge was used as a training climb for guides in the early 1900s.There are several variations on the lower part of this ridge.
From the true left end of the second swingbridge of the Hooker Valley track, turn off onto a faint ground trail on the true left of the valley and begin climbing anywhere from near the second swingbridge as far as the first really large scree slope on the East Side of the Hooker Valley, near the third swingbridge. (The second scree up valley from the second swingbridge seems to lead to the most pleasing line.) Some great pockets of solid red rock can be found, but the main challenge is avoiding the scrub. Higher up, the overall angle eases, but the rock quality deteriorates. The variations converge just below a small cheval around 1680m. The upper ridge merges into a series of basins and spurs south of the summit. Descend via the South Ridge.

  • P1
  • Alpine (Technical) 2+
  • Alpine (Commitment) II
  • Trad

At least two of the ribs leading onto Wakefield from just above the second swingbridge were used as training climbs for guides in the 1930s. From the second swingbridge climb a very enjoyable ridge to the summit. The rock is good and the panoramic views including Sefton, the Main Divide and Aoraki are superb.

1.16 1.16The Old Man and the Scree, 15 15 120m

This route is accessed from the first swingbridge on the Hooker valley track, along an old track that follows down the true left bank of the Hooker River. Visible from the village is a prominent scree slope and a series of buttresses leading to the ridge between Pt 1827m and Pt 1566m. Ascend the scree then aim for the left side of the buttress that separates a large hidden gully from the main scree. Climb slabs immediately right of a big corner and finish up the chimney. Two 60m pitches (grade 15), sparse protection, and loose rock. Walk off the back. According to Trev, it’s a ‘pretty worthless route for the effort to get there.’
Sandra Martin, Trevor Streat, Dec 2014

  • P1
  • 15
  • 120m
  • Trad

1.17 1.17South Ridge, 1,I 1,I

  • P1
  • Alpine (Technical) 1
  • Alpine (Commitment) I

This is an excellent day or overnight trip, with panoramic views. From the Tasman valley road bridge over the Hooker River, climb up the vegetated spur that eventually leads over scree and boulder fields to the summit. The true summit is a long way beyond the highest point that you can see from the village. Navigation on the upper ridge can be difficult in cloudy conditions. Descend the same way.

 Bad Obsession (?) 700m

"The gully that begins at the large scree
downstream of the second swing bridge, on the
south side of the South West Ridge is called Bad Obsession." - Craig Hosking?
The crux of the route looks to be the bluff near the bottom. It may fill in after a big slide?

  • P1
  • 700m