Skip to main content

South Face

Part of

From Rob Roy Col there are several options to gain the foot of the South Face.

  • Climb most of the way up the ridge separating the Little South Face (the Little South Face is the triangular face with the East Ridge on its right hand edge) and the South Face then descend to the glacier. Be aware that the small ice cliff clinging to the face down and right of the Low peak is active and deposits debris all the way down to the lower glacier.
  • The Little South Face has a number of interesting gully lines on it which give a challenging start at about grade 4.
  • Climb the East Ridge to the top of the second step avoiding the first rock step and descend SE Corner Route.
Add Place Add Route


Reference Title Grade Length Pro Quality Operations
1 1Original Line, V,5 V,5 0m

The route on the face follows the well-defined rib that falls from right to left from the summit. Two broad gullies lying to the left of this rib are swept frequently by ice avalanches from the cliffs above. Cross the schrund to the right of the foot of the rib. The foot of the rib is very steep and it is climbed on its eastern flank, where about 300m of fairly sustained rock climbing leads to the crest. Steep snow and ice (rock later in the summer) provide straightforward climbing for the next 300m. A small overhang on the rib is climbed directly, beyond which steep ice patches lead to the final snow and ice slopes beneath the summit. The initial party, with a rope of three, spent about 10 hours on the face.

  • P1
  • Alpine (Commitment) V
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 5

2 2The Zone, V,5 V,5

  • P1
  • Alpine (Commitment) V
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 5

“Ok, so if Craig peels off making this move over that bulge, that piton’s gonna pull along with the stake right out of this manky snow. Which leaves Craig, Gareth and I fast accelerating to the glacier two hundred metres below. “Yeah Man you’re looking solid. Charge it!” So the dialogue went between the lads trying to access the South Face via the ridge bisecting the Little South Face and route 2. They managed not to fall off and went on to climb a route on the South Face between the original summer route and A Couple of Days, finishing as for the summer route. The lower part of the route was sustained steep ice. Overall length 9 pitches.

3 3South East Corner, III,2 III,2 0m

This route is very difficult to access due to the ‘great glacial recession’. This route has become more of a way of accessing the South Face than a climb. The South East corner is a fifty five degree, prominent snow and ice tongue leading up to the East Ridge, below and right of the low peak. The route follows the snow and ice leads, with a steeper section of about 150 metres of rock in the middle, before more snow leads out to the ridge about 100 metres below the low peak. In the winter this is all snow. This was used as the access route to the upper névé for the ascent of the South Face route. Moore’s time from the névé to the ridge was about one hour.

  • P1
  • Alpine (Commitment) III
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 2

4 4A Couple of Days, VI,5 VI,5 0m

This is an all ice route climbed in late winter. A gully on the Little South Face
was climbed, 10 pitches of grade 4 and then route 2 was descended into the
upper névé to access the main South Face. The route on the South Face takes a series of ill defined gullies right of the summer route. After about 6 pitches there is a sixty five degree snowslope, 2 pitches. Three pitches from the summit a steep rock corner is climbed on ice with good rock protection. This leads onto a steep arête then up a gully and onto the summit snow slopes finishing just right of the summit. Sixty metre ropes were used. Three bivvies were had, one at the base of the Little South Face, another in the bergschrund at the bottom of the South Face and one on the Maud Francis Glacier.

  • P1
  • Alpine (Commitment) VI
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 5

Allen Uren & John Cocks