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Mt Williams

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Mt Williams is the highest peak in the Rolleston Range and higher than any on the Divide in this area – its distinctive twin summits are clearly recognisable from the Arrowsmith Range and other points to the south.
Mt Williams may have been first climbed in the 1880s by Arthur Dobson, when he was supervising the construction of a road over Mathias Pass. The earliest recorded ascent was by Nowell Syme in 1949 and the second ascent occurred about one year later, but after that the peak was pretty much left alone until 2003, when it was rediscovered by Christchurch climber Philip Tree. Subsequently the peak has seen an increase in popularity, although these days it is most often attempted from the Wilberforce side.

POINT (171.187248 -43.122224)
BW19 525 240
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Reference Title Grade Length Pro Quality Operations
 Original Route

  • P1

The first recorded ascent was made from Moraine Hut via grassy sidles and snow slopes. It was most likely climbed by the small glacier between the two summits and from there to the top.

 From Moa Stream, 2 2

  • P1
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 2

From the head of Moa Stream climb to the saddle just north of Pt 2054 metres. The tussock rib on the left of the couloir sometimes provides the best route to the saddle. Cross the glacier on the south-west face of Mt Williams and head up, aiming for the col between the twin peaks of Mt Williams. Access to the col may be complicated by a schrund. From here, move slightly out on to the north-west face and climb loose rock to the summit.

 North East Ridge, 2+ 2+

  • P1
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 2+

A long ridge climb that follows the north east ridge between Pt 2096 to the summit of Mt Williams. The ridge is gained by ascending scree slopes and steep vegetated slopes to Pt 1736 from the head of Moa Stream. From here move along the broad Ridge to Pt 2096 and the north east ridge proper. All of the difficulties are encountered in the final 800 - 900 m before the summit of Mt Williams but can generally be sidled on the Appleyard Stream side of the ridge. Descend from the summit to the col between the twin summits and down the glacier as for the "From Moa Stream" route. (Note that in summer conditions a rappel is required to descend from the col on to the glacier) Alternatively descend loose rock down the south east ridge.

 No Moa Zebras, 13,3 13,3

  • P1
  • 13
  • Alpine (Mt Cook) 3

A direct route on the south east face from the head of Moa Stream that follows a prominent spur and crosses rock and glaciated slopes to the summit. From the head of Moa Stream, aim for the deeply incised gut in the center of the face climbing a remanent glacier and avalanche debris to gain low angle rock. Scramble up to the second waterfall and climb approximately 100 m of grade 13-14 rock on the true right of the waterfall to a scree covered panel. Climb the scree and follow a series of vegetated ledges up the spur towards the large tower before a large chasm is encountered. Descend into the chasm and climb a single pitch of grade 12, trending to the northern side of the tower. From here climb compact zebra striped rock and snow slopes, trending west toward the summit before climbing loose rock on the last 100 m of the south east ridge. Descent via the south east ridge to the col between Moa Stream and the North Mathias.

Yvonne Cook and Geoff Spearpoint,
in association with the Canterbury Mountaineering Club