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Cameron River

POINT (171.079871 -43.422272)

The Cameron River provides access to the striking ridge of the main Arrowsmith Range, extending from East Horn to Tent Peak, and to three summits over 2700 metres. The glaciers have retreated since many of the routes were first climbed, and in late season traditional access routes may be complicated by crevasses or impossible to use. The presence of Cameron Hut at the head of the valley makes this area the most popular point from which to climb Mt Arrowsmith and Couloir and Jagged Peaks, plus several smaller summits in the range, and also provides a good base for ski touring. While the individual peaks provide a good day out, various sections of the serrated ridges of the Arrowsmith Range have been the scene of several one- and two-day traverses. These have included a winter traverse from Couloir to Jagged Peaks by Bruce Naylor, Bill Frew, Vic Walsh and Keith Curry in August 1962, and a summer East Horn to Jagged Peak marathon by Brian Hearfield and Willie Huber in January 1969. Most ridges comprise shattered rock, generally of poor quality, and rock and ice fall is common at all times of year. Be aware that a bivvy is likely if attempting one of the technical routes.
Cameron River access
Drive along Hakatere Heron Road. Once on the straight heading north, pass a barn on the left and shortly afterwards a small culvert. Immediately after the culvert, follow wheel ruts seen heading west across grassy flats into the Cameron Valley. This track ends at a car parking area with an intentions book. Ring Arrowsmith Station for permission before you go (Eric Smith, phone 03 303 9090) and sign in and out in the intentions book.
A track marked by warratahs and occasional cairns leads to Cameron Hut along the true right of the Cameron River, staying mainly on grassy terraces alongside the river although travel in the riverbed is mostly fine. Immediately downstream of the confluence with Lochiel Stream the track follows a grassy terrace towards a steep spur leading to the top of a high terrace. Go straight up this spur, aiming for a warratah on the skyline, in order to avoid a gorged section of river. Continue for about 1.5 km on a good track high above the river until the route leads back down to the Cameron River flats. A low-level route through the gorge is possible and remnants of a cut track exist, but travel can be slow and involve negotiating some matagouri if the river is high. Continue along the Cameron River and where it divides to flow either side of Cameron Hut follow prominent markers along the southern branch (often dry in late season). A warratah marks a right turn in the track, which crosses over an old moraine wall to river flats and Cameron Hut.
Cameron Glacier access
Access to routes from the South Cameron Glacier is via the Carriageway – the prominent lateral moraine seen from Cameron Hut. From the hut, aim for the grassy valley alongside the moraine and take a cairned route up a small spur on to the crest of the moraine wall. Follow the top of the moraine wall, which merges with a steep scree slope. Cross this scree slope high to traverse above a gully. If heading to East Horn or the alternative access to the South Cameron Glacier, climb this scree slope all the way to the glacier below East Horn. If continuing to the South Cameron Glacier, cross the scree, scramble over a vegetated bluff on small ledges and continue up on more moraine and scree, following the base of the bluffs. At one point the moraine has eroded away, leaving a tricky section involving a short (two-metre), steep, loose down-climb on to steep, compact moraine. Continue along the base of the bluffs until scree and snow slopes lead on to the glacier. In late season, the South Cameron Glacier is usually cut off. Alternative access is made by climbing the Douglas Glacier to the ridge north-east of East Horn, and then descending to the South Cameron Glacier.
The main Cameron Glacier is reached by following the Cameron River and climbing steep, loose moraine on the true right of the toe of the glacier until the névé can be reached. In late season, the lower icefall can be tricky to pass.
Highland Home (Lake Heron Station) : private and locked.
Cameron Hut (CMC) : A nine-person hut with solar lighting and a mountain radio. It is four to five hours walk from the road end, situated on a grassy flat behind a moraine wall.

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Type Name
Pass Groove Col
Yvonne Cook and Geoff Spearpoint,
in association with the Canterbury Mountaineering Club