Barrier Bluffs

(10 routes)

The Barrier Bluffs, at the head of the Gertrude Valley below Barrier Knob, provide winter and summer routes.

Face (Alpine)
Walk time: 
1.5 hours

Danger Will Robinson was accessed via the highest scree fan below Black Lake: scramble up the creek to a large terrace below the face. To access The Joker and nearby routes, gain height on the right-hand side of the slopes directly out of the lower Gertrude Valley until a left-tending ledge system can be followed to the base of the routes. To descend it is five abseils to easy ground, or traverse to Gertrude Saddle.
Winter routes on the Barrier Bluffs have the advantage of a pleasant walk up the Gertrude. The slabby ground below the Bluffs merits some care, but generally gives straightforward access to all routes. The climbs are severely threatened by the slopes above, so keep a wary eye out for releases on the Barrier Face during the previous afternoon. To descend, either rap the routes or traverse the slopes to Gertrude Saddle.

Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
When Friends Drop By 20
wire representing trad
Up from the grassed areas. Follow a wide flake that opens to the right, almost wide enough to chimney inside. Continuing up relatively easy terrain to a ledge. Move up and left of a fairly blank wall (crux) then two more relatively easier pitches to the top. “It just got completely blank before I could reach easier ground again. At that point I took a winger and unzipped all the pro. I dropped all the way back to the ledge from about 15 meters up landing just beside Graeme, hence the name.” Dave Carlyle
Dave Carlyle, Graeme Love, 1984.
Ramping Time IV 3
wire representing trad
Climb thin ice on the right for one pitch, then traverse left for two pitches to the bottom of a right-sloping ramp, three pitches to the snowfield.
Jeremy Strang, Kiersten Price, Sept 1990.
3 Danger Will Robinson 18 , , , , , , 290m
wire representing trad
Buttress to grassy corner below diagonal roof.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad

Buttress to grassy corner below diagonal roof.


Corner of left slab to roof. Out along crack and more easily up corner system to a big ledge.


Onto slab and then to shattered corner. Climb buttress on the right then up to a ramp leading down right. Move down to belay on nose.


Traverse right to easy ramp and corner above.


Following left-tending corner. Hard move through a double mossy corner and over jammed block. Move to ledge and left to belay below ‘peapod’ flakes.


Move through slab and blocks to left, then diverge right from obvious direct line which appears harder and descend right along flakes and up to belay.


Blocks and a steep short wall to a slab. Tend right in slanting grooves then up to below lip.

Ian Brown, Tom Williams, Feb 2002.
Ice One IV 3
wire representing trad
The left slanting gully below a steep wall, left of the Joker. Rarely in condition.
Nigel Perry, Duncan Ritchie, Oct 1981.
Tessellate 18,19,18,20,25,19 200m
23bolts wire representing trad
6p, 200m, 25 mainly natural pro, all anchors DBB Approach Follow the Gertrude Saddle track uphill for 100m past the main stream crossing. When the track heads left at a prominent pyramid boulder continue up the vegetated scree ridge skirting low angle slabs on the left. Scramble up to the base of the wall directly below the prominent triangle face. 60-90mins. See topo map attached for details. Decent Recommend 2x 60m ropes. A 55m abseil from the top of P5 to the top of P3 is recommended. Take care for blocks on ledges
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad

Scramble up to left trending ramp past 2B and gear around corner to DBB


Up corner, through overlaps then trending left and up. 3B.


Steep face with 2B to grassy ledge and mantle into corners, left of the Finger of Doom, then wide crack to hanging belay.


Clip bolt and fire up offwidth and right trending crack with good jams, then carefully up corner to large ledge.


Right from belay, chimney up to first bolt. Technical face climbing steepens to wild pulls between huge jugs to top of overhang.


Rock over onto slab and up to first bolt, around corner and up slab on beautiful rock tending right past two more bolts and gear.

Friederike Andree, Sefton Priestley, February 2021
5 Generation X 16,19 80m
4bolts wire representing trad
From the belay at the top of the third pitch of Aces High climb diagonally left on slabs and around arête to bolt belay.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad

From the belay at the top of the third pitch of Aces High climb diagonally left on slabs and around arête to bolt belay.


. Up face and arête edge to natural belay on large sloping ledge, four bolts.

Steve Carr, Dave Brash, Feb 1999.
4 Aces High 17 , 20 , 23 , 17 , 21 180m
9bolts wire representing trad
From the groove right of the block climb the off-width crack and up the slab and arête to ledge at top.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad

From the groove right of the block climb the off-width crack and up the slab and arête to ledge at top.


Scramble up to higher ledge and follow left crack, then past three bolts to bolt belay.


Three bolts and pin to overlap then trend left. Two bolts protect rising traverse (crux) to smaller corner (natural pro) then out left past sixth bolt to belay close to corner.


Two bolts above belay then follow crack up and right to belay on spike on Joker arête to right of big roof.


. Climb above spike to fixed pin, then move left to clip bolt. Follow thin ramp up left, clip bolt then direct finish up scalloped rock.

Dave Brash, Steve Carr, Andrew MacFarlane, Feb 1999.
6 The Joker 19
wire representing trad
Five pitches to the snowfield. Climb Evil Gully to below arête. Trend up on the right side of the arête for two easy but run-out pitches ending in a spike belay back on the arête. Two beautiful pitches to finish on the terraces. ‘Hard, dark, savage and ugly, but I recommend it!’ Calum Hudson
Nick Edge, Calum Hudson, 1978.
Nobility of Spirit IV 4
wire representing trad
Take the gully-line right of the Joker arête. 9 or 10 pitches, with some superb ice that progressively steepens through the climb. Crux pitch is the last: a thinly iced vertical wall that leads onto easier ground.
Andy MacFarlane, Mark Bryan, Jul 1998.
Barrier Cream III 3
wire representing trad
Five pitches of ice up the wide gully immediately left of the main Barrier face gully to the snowfield.
Al Mark, Kiersten Price, Sept 1990.
Craig Jefferies