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North Face

Natural pro required
First ascent
Troy Forsyth, Ruari Macfarlane, 4 April 2023
Located on

Approach by walking up Jollie valley, or via the Cass (it is essential to phone Glenmore station first to ask permission, on 03 680 6752) and Tin Hut Stream. The Cass option is preferable, as one can 4WD / mountainbike to Tin Hut if river level are normal. There is water in the basin, somewhat downhill of the face (the basin contains a remnant rock glacier). The face is both easier and better than it looks, and makes a moderate but forgettable route on blocky red sandstone. What are unforgettable, however, are the views. The outlook to the Eastern aspects of Aoraki, Tasman and the Malte Brun Range are superlative. Descend via the gully systems immediately W of the summit. Gain these by: i) possibly taking a ledge down and right across a very steep face, from the top of the pitching but shortly below the summit (scramble back down to here); or (ii) descend slabs 10m to SE and small notch in East ridge, then traverse broken ground 10m across S face under the summit block to the notch in the West ridge at the top of the gully. Descend the gully NW, then halfway down cut out left on a ledge system, until a notch behind a big tower allows access into another NW facing gully, and finally the main gut draining back NE towards the main basin. This avoids abseiling.

  • P1
  • 13
  • 380m
  • Trad

scramble up the gully/corner on the right side of the main NF to where it first eases; belay on left (small cams). Pitch1 goes 57 m: hard left and through a break in the roofs, up a clean slab, and finishing up a corner on the left to belay just below the obvious diagonal ledge cutting the lower face. Scramble this ledge left to the next belay below "Williams' nipple", a cabin-sized block. Pitch up the right side of this and keep going; five 50m pitches up and right (following the best rock) to shortly below the summit. A scree ledge divides the fifth and sixth pitchs. A single rack to #2 or 3, and doubles of a few smaller cams, should suffice. Climbing is sometimes runout, but in these sections is easy. The rock is good enough, but generally forgettable. The climbing is mainly grade 8-10, often on solid red sandstone slabs, but with chossy overlaps (grade 13-14 cruxes) increasing in frequency with height, and dominating the face towards the top.