Speight Buttress

(5 routes)

Mt Speight is not often (if ever) visited by persons purely interested in climbing on rock. It hardly attracts day visitors, being a 6-hour tramp in from Klondyke Corner. But the 250m high Speight Buttress is blessed with some of the best quality rock in the national park (this all being relative, of course!).
Three prominent rock buttresses protrude into the Speight snowfield. Many more routes could be contrived on the day. The gullies between them are climbable in winter. Descent is by the North Ridge to the col at the head of the snowfield.

Face (Alpine)
North East
Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
North Icefield Couloir II 4
May be climbed in an icy winter via the narrow, tall (190m) and steep (45º–80º) couloir leading directly to the summit rocks from the head of the northern snow/icefield. The crux is met approximately 70m below the summit, where the ice/snow clings to an almost vertical rock-band and a cornice may exist across its head. Descend via the North Ridge.
Left-hand Buttress II 14
Commence near the toe of the buttress and climb a vertical line though two of three pitches before the steepness diminishes and scrambling on loose rock to the summit ensues.
North Ridge Snow Chute II 2
May be ascended in winter via the broad snow and ice chute that joins the North Ridge about 150m north of the summit. An avalanche risk could exist on this route. The base of this chute is gained from the head of the northern snow/icefield just to the true left of the Speight Buttress routes. Descend via the North Ridge.
Central Buttress II
Commences along a line of weakness traveling left to right, then proceeds to climb stepped rock to join the North Ridge.
Right-hand Buttress II
Starts easily, however steepness increases with height, with obvious lines of weakness being followed vertically to the ridge.

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The description of Speight Buttress is not exaggerating when it says some of the best rock in the park. We were somewhat sceptical until we actually got onto the rock (the right buttress). Whilst we didn’t completely avoid the choss, the rock was highly enjoyable to climb and much better than any other rock I’ve seen in the Arthur’s Pass area. For me, the climb was worth the tough 7 hours’ approach via Harper Creek.
We only had a few medium sized nuts, a single cam and slings with us. We wold take some smaller nuts and possibly some more cams if visiting again.
Only 25 minutes down from the climbs, there are some excellent bivi spots. They are by the stream, have comfortable moss, and rocks that can be used for shelter.
We approached the area via Harpers Creek as the guidebook described the approach via the Greenlaw Creek as being the least friendly in the park.
Our first approach to the area was done at night and in fog. This contributed to the approach taking a tough 10 hours. Our approach on our second visit was also at night but took only 7 hours. We could possibly have done it in 6 hours if we had been doing it in daylight. If approaching for the first time, we recommend doing it in daylight as this will make the route finding much easier.
It would be enjoyable to take some rock shoes and spend a few days climbing some of the many different possible routes.