Skip to main content

Couloir Pk


After Hugh Wright and Jim Murphy abandoned their attempt in 1912, to make the first ascent of Mt Arrowsmith, Couloir wasn’t climbed until 1934. There are several options from Lawrence River. The Couloir is the classic route to the summit of Couloir Peak, pioneered by the redoubtable Stan Conway and Tom Newth and the scene of their legendary 2500-foot fall during a storm on the descent. After their successful climb, an avalanche knocked Tom off his feet, he collided with Stan and they tumbled down the couloir in a long series of arcs, alternately airborne, then pounding into the ice as the rope between them became taught and reined in their flight. Eventually the rope coiled around Tom and the arcing stopped. One last flight saw them clear rocks at the bottom of the couloir before hitting the névé and rolling to a stop millimetres from the edge of a crevasse. Both were injured, with Stan having to be evacuated by horse. Despite this, Tom was able to show up for work the next day and the incident was glossed over – although it was more than 20 years before the route was repeated.

POINT (170.989752 -43.341222)
BW18 371 993
Add Place Add Route


Reference Title Grade Length Pro Quality Operations
 From Lawrence Valley, 2 2

  • P1
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 2

Follow the top of the moraine wall above the Lawrence Glacier and from here climb a solid rock ridge to the crest. Traverse south, climbing into a gap with a steep bluff on the north side, then continue to the summit

  • P2

From a shingle slope, follow the creek draining the north side of Mt Arrowsmith and climb to the upper basin. From here traverse Pt 2474 metres and reach the crest of the range slightly north of Cameron Col.

  • P3

Start up the glacier where the moraine wall has been breached, then follow scree and snow to the high Twins–Couloir basin. Climb a steep wall of rock to reach the final ridge and summit.

 South Gullies, 2+ 2+

  • P1
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 2+

Take one of the two prominent gullies left of the main couloir which lead to a small plateau on the Lawrence divide. From here, follow reasonably angled rock for the last 200 metres to the summit, or follow a snow-filled gully left of the rock.

SR SRSouth Ridge

  • P1

Climb the ridge south of the peak, which leads directly to the summit, starting either on rock or up an ice gully.

TG TGThe Couloir, 3 3

  • P1
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 3

Follow the Cameron Glacier to the base of the prominent snow couloir cutting the south-east face of the peak. The lower section contains the crux, a steep, two-metre ice wall, after which the route lays back to about 45 degrees and ends about 30 metres from the summit ridge. From here, cross left under the buttress into a short, steep, icy gully then follow good ice for the last 10 metres to the summit ridge.

 The Big D, 16 16

Direct route on East Face of Couloir Peak (2642m). From Cameron Hut, allow 5h for the approach, 7h for the climb, and 7h for the
descent back to the hut.
Approach – Up Cameron Glacier past icefall to glacier confluence (1700m).
Turn left, ascend to 1950m. Then take a right up a steep (50 degree) ice slope to eventually arrive at the base of a prominent corner directly below the summit (2300m). Start 10m right of the main corner.
Pitch 1 (40m, 16) – up crack until under roof (20m). Turn the roof by
traversing left onto the face (crux). Ascend slabs to belay ledge. Good
Pitch 2 (15m, 15) – up corner to belay ledge
Pitch 3 (40m, 14) - traverse right out of crack and around arête for 10m.
Then up a series of ledges on quality rock
Pitch 4 (40m, 12) – follow cracks up to large ledge
Pitch 5 (35m, 10) – down right into gravel, then ascend loose easy ledges
arriving at a red corner.
Pitch 6 (20m, 12) – right and up to top ledge up crumbly, difficult to
protect, rock. Scary pitch.
Pitch 7 (30m, 15) - traverse left past red corner then up fissure past
detached pillar and around corner
Pitch 8 (45m, 12) – traverse 10m left then directly up. Follow a series of
cracks to wide ledge.
Pitch 9 (100m, 10) – Easy scramble up and right. Simul-climb this pitch
taking care rope drag doesn’t drop loose rock on partner below.
Pitch 10 (100m, 10) – Easy scramble.
From the summit ridge it is a further 100m traverse past af gendarme to the
summit (2642m).
Descent – continue traversing 100m along summit ridge to the SW until at
small col above a steep snow/ice couloir on the TL. Descend this steep
couloir at first (a rap may be required) for 250m (vertical) to a wide
snowfield. Continue along this 600m to the right staying to the west of the
ridge on easy ground, crossing point 2474, and eventually arriving at Cameron
Col (2427m). Cross the Col and traverse a further 200m due south across the
glacier and then carefully turn to descend 700m of steep snow/ice to arrive
back at the glacier confluence (1700m).

  • P1
  • 16



The Big D (10p, 16), first ascent Don French and Kevin Patterson, Feb 2014

Fri, 24/11/2017 - 17:06 Permalink
Yvonne Cook and Geoff Spearpoint,
in association with the Canterbury Mountaineering Club