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North Face

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The quiet sunny side of Brewster culminates in a 500-700m summit massif, offering at least three aesthetic ribs of moderate alpine rockclimbing on good schist, dissected by a large snow couloir (Summer rockfall funnel) and narrower gullies. However, in a case of 'play now-pay later', the steep ribs are topped by lower angled ground comprised of large blocks. Though blocks are more locked in than they appear looks and the movement is not difficult, care must be taken in both route and hold choice when scrambling the upper face to avoid loose blocks and natural rockfall zones. The ribs are generally prominent enough to avoid natural rockfall, and early summer may be ideal to top out via snow travel rather than loose blocks.

5 - 8 hrs (3-4 from Wills Hut)
POINT (169.451065 -44.060496)

Approach up the Wills Valley up the track to the lower flats, the follow spurs in open bush on the true left of Fleming Creek (plentiful water in bush sidecreeks). Easy subalpine travel leads to the base of the North Face, where moderate angle snowfields/patches linger into summer. 5-8 hours from the car, or 3-4 hours from Wills Hut.
Descent: The obvious descent is via the West Ridge, brewster Glacier and the Brewster Hut track, making a nice loop. Descending to the cols either side of .2038 before moving onto snow and the glacier keep snow travel to low angle, and may allow crampon-less descent in warm conditions, at least from midsummer when the ridge is dry rock. However, ice axes are wise in case of snowfields/patchs at the base of the north face, and on the upper face.

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Reference Title Grade Length Pro Quality Operations
CR CRCentral Rib, 16,4,III 16,4,III 350m

Good climbing up a surprisingly sharp & narrow arete. The rib is the first one left (East) of the main couloir splitting the face, offering about 350m of rockclimbing (mostly grade 8-14, with grade 16 cruxes). This is followed by 300 vertical meters of snow or choss scrambling to the summit.
To Start: Cross a moderate angled snowslope guarding the base of the buttress. On the left side at the toe of the rib proper, pick any start that appeals, making your way to a ledge 20m off the deck, above small rooflets and at the base of a broken corner system. (The first ascent started up the wide crack in the large black left-facing corner, right of the crest, but angled left due to lack of large cams. A single #3 would do the trick.). Generally, follow the rib thereafter, but often in corners or ramps on either side as dictated by the terrain. Two steeper towers near the top are turned by thin face traverses and corners on the left. On the first ascent, much of the terrain proved suitable for simul-climbing (with microtraxions) with the odd pitch. The schist is sometimes sharp but two ropes could be painful due to the lower angle of the terrain, and varied difficulty. Protection is good throughout for climbers solid at the grade. No water.
In detail: Once on the ledge 20m up at the base of the the broken corner that runs up the center of the rib, climb a short finger/hand crack in a left-facing corner (16) and on up the corner/gully. About 30m up, move into corners on the left of the rib. Caution loose blocks on these initial sections. These corners lead back to the rib. Cross it (sharp flakes) and climb easy, steppy ground on better rock on the right side for some way. Eventually, an imposing dark tower is reached. Face traverse left 7m (sparse holds/pro) towards a big corner, but before reaching it go steeply up a narrow right-facing corner (16, beautiful crack climbing), which becomes a double crack for the last 5m back onto the rib. Then along the crest on memorable holds and intermittent cracks on clean orange rock until a second/final tower. Move left again - thin (16), but into an easy corner - and on up to reach a flat area and lower angled, loose ground to the summit block. Most parties will travel this ground unroped. Take care to avoid pulling on loose holds or entering rockfall zones when weaving up the upper face. The rock is less dangerous than it looks, yet not safe. Early season, this may be mainly snow travel.
An opportunity also exists to start up the clean 'toe' of red schist on climbers right then climb clean face to join the rib near the top.

  • P1
  • 16
  • Alpine (Technical) 4
  • Alpine (Commitment) III
  • 350m
  • Trad