North Face

(21 routes)

The combined quality and length of these climbs make them unsurpassed as the best slab routes in the country. The rock is well featured and compact. Many have now been equipped with 10mm stainless bolts but a full natural pro rack with large size cams is still required, up to 10cm on Labyrinth.

It is common for routes on the north face of Barrier Knob to be completed in a long day out of Homer Hut, or alternatively from a camp or bivouac on the slopes below the face. Flat bivouac sites exist on the tussock slopes above Adelaide Saddle. There is a very good bivouac site underneath the central part of the north face.

Type: 
Face (Alpine)
Aspect: 
North
Access: 

Traverse high on scree from the end of the Barrier Knob Traverse until a long rock rib under the face forces you to descend; at the bottom of this rib a flat site, suitable for a two person tent can be found. It may be under snow early in the season. Water is available from the snow patches or snow-melt trickles on the slabs.

There are two approaches that can be used to access to these climbs.
1) Traverse round to the base of the north face; from Gertrude Saddle climb to the start of the traverse around the southern aspect of Barrier Knob: Traverse on snow-slopes or rock and scree late season to the base of the north face. Allow approximately three hours and note that the snow slopes are very icy early morning and may require crampons.
2) Abseil down from the summit ridge of Barrier Knob. From Gertrude Saddle climb to the summit of Barrier Knob. Follow the ridge east for 200m keeping an eye out for a cairn which marks the start of a rappel line to the base of the routes, with the first rap station (slings) 30m down on the northern side.

Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
1 Endless Summer 20 , 21 , 19 , 17 , 16 , 21 265m
2.01
wire representing trad
Scramble up the slabs to the ring bolts at the start of Labyrinth. Follow the left-slanting ramp and up a short wall to hanging belay.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
12055mYes
 Scramble up the slabs to the ring bolts at the start of Labyrinth. Follow the left-slanting ramp and up a short wall to hanging belay.
22145mYes
  Step left and up on small holds past a spike and flake to a stretchy move right, then up to belay.
31945mYes
 Up wall to hand crack, stepping left and up to a thin crack
41740mYes
 Climb the short wall then left to the base of the shallow groove: some thin moves towards the top.
51635mYes
 An easy flake pitch.
62145mYes
  Climb the finger cracks with a couple of reachy moves through the overlaps.
Wayo Carson, Murray Judge, Matt Squires, Mar 2000.
Variation finish to Endless Summer 17 , 17 , 18 70m
0
13bolts wire representing trad
From third belay, climb two slab pitches to reach three parallel finger cracks. 5 bolts and a small Friend.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
11725m5Yes
 From third belay, climb two slab pitches to reach three parallel finger cracks. 5 bolts and a small Friend.
21745m8Yes
  8 bolts.
3180mYes
  Optional cracks. Left-hand crack 17, middle crack 18.
Wayo Carson, Feb 2003.
2 Snake 17 , 17 , 17 70m
2.01
13bolts wire representing trad
A three picth variation to Endless Summer. Right from the the third belay of ES. Slab pitch, 5b and smaal cam
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
11725m5Yes
 A three picth variation to Endless Summer. Right from the the third belay of ES. Slab pitch, 5b and smaal cam
21745m8No
 Slab pitch, 8B
3170mYes
 3 parallel finger cracks. Lh crack 17, middle crack 18.
Waqyo Carson, Feb 2003
3 Sidewinder 20 , 23 , 20 , 20 , 15
3
wire representing trad
Climb the initial left slanting ramp of Endless Summer for 10m, stepping left to small ledge and belay.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
1200mYes
 Climb the initial left slanting ramp of Endless Summer for 10m, stepping left to small ledge and belay.
2230mYes
 Pull up and onto the slab, working up the right side of the smooth grey rock to hanging belay. A beautiful, sustained and technical slab pitch.
3200mYes
 50m. Up a small corner at the end of the roof then angle left past holes to finish up steep wall.
4200mYes
 Up right to above flake then up smooth grey rock on good pockets and a short wall to finish.
5150mYes
 Angle right to easy ground and scramble 75m up to the ring bolts. There are three cracks on the wall below the top anchors: the left was led by Wayo Carson at grade 20; the centre by Keith Riley.
Wayo Carson, Murray Judge, Feb 2002.
4 Labyrinth 20 , 22 , 21 , 21 , 16 230m
3
wire representing trad
A sustained and bold climb taking a direct line through steep slabs. Originally climbed and bolted on lead, it was re-bolted in 2001. The first and second pitches are usually climbed as one, but watch for rope drag under the roof.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
12050mYes
 A sustained and bold climb taking a direct line through steep slabs. Originally climbed and bolted on lead, it was re-bolted in 2001. The first and second pitches are usually climbed as one, but watch for rope drag under the roof.
22240mYes
 Superb face-climbing on small positive holds.
32145mYes
 Move left around the roof, clip the third bolt then make a long runout on positive holds.
42145mYes
 Climb the cracks to where the overhanging arête starts a long reach left to a pocket, rock-over, then up the steepening headwall past two bolts and a horizontal spike.
51650mYes
 Follow broken arête to bolted belay.
Paul Rogers, Murray Judge, Mar 1988.
5 Missing Link 23
0
wire representing trad
A grade 23 pitch that joins the second pitch of Labyrinth.
John Fisher, Murray Judge, Jan 1987.
6 Sword of Damocles 21 , ,
2.01
wire representing trad
Start up the easy groove toward Labyrinth and continue up a short wall on right, stepping right again to first belay in middle of slab.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
1210mYes
 Start up the easy groove toward Labyrinth and continue up a short wall on right, stepping right again to first belay in middle of slab.
20mYes
 Head up and right of the overlaps to next belay.
30mYes
 Step round left onto juggy wall which still has original bolts and hangers. The original route climbed a large hanging flake, the ‘sword’, which was dislodged by an earthquake in the winter of 1988. This section was subsequently climbed with two bolts and graded at 21 by Andy MacFarlane and Dave Brash in 1996. Andy also added a variant third pitch trending right through an overlap to finish up a sharp fin of rock, 20.
John Fisher, Murray Judge. Fifth and sixth pitches Bill McLeod, John Fisher, Jan 1987.
7 Rita's Burritos 21 ,18 ,20 ,18 ,16 ,16 ,15 80m
2.01
5bolts wire representing trad
Smooth slab and crack climbing with good natural pro placements. The route was re-bolted 2001. The fifth pitch, completed by Murray Judge and Paul Rogers, follows a wide crack on the left.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
12150m5Yes
 Scramble up 10 metres from base to double bolt ring anchor. Climb up angling left past 2 bolts and on up left to water streak, where you'll find some gear. Continue up and right past 2 bolts (small cam useful) then angle back left to a 5th bolt then a couple of steep moves to pull flake feature (big cam useful). DBA in corner above flake.
21830mYes
 Head up and right from belay on good edges. Turn roof feature on right and head up the left angling groove. From the top of groove go straight up and slightly left for about 10 metres and find a DBA on ledge.
3200mYes
 Up the wall above belay trending slightly right then into V-groove above with old rusted rawl bolt anchor in it. Clip this anchor for protection (unfortunately). Find some good small-medium gear in the crack above and pull a few stiff moves to exit the corner. Then straight up on easier ground to a DBA.
4180mYes
 Straight up from belay to the right-trending undercling layback, turn this then head up angling right to DBA. This anchor is positioned to continue on to Chilli Con Kea, the two-pitch slab route up to the right.
5160mYes
 To climb the standard finish you must reverse 10 metres of the previous pitch, find the old rusted anchor on a ledge back out left, clip this, keep traversing left a few metres, then head straight up to the wide crack/flake.
6160mYes
 From the top of the wide flake crack find your way to the top using trad anchors It's another two pitches of mostly easy climbing.
7150mYes
 Mostly easy trad climbing to top.
Murray Judge, Bronwyn Judge, Jan 1989.
8 Chilli con Kea 20
1.02
wire representing trad
Two exposed pitches up a clean slab above the big roof. 20, 20. Tend right from the top of the fourth pitch of Rita’s Burritos. Rebolted 2001.
Jeremy Strang, Murray Judge, Feb 1990.
9 Mexican Stand-off 19
1.02
wire representing trad
Start directly below the left-hand end of the large roof, climbing up and left to finish as for the Sword.
Bill Denz, Stu Allan, Feb 1978.
10 Gecko Ledge 20
0
wire representing trad
19, 20. Two pitches to the ledge directly below the big roof. Look for bolt above the diagonal flake on left. This route gives access to the ledge below the roof.
Murray Judge, Bronwyn Judge, Feb 2005.
McGregor-Atkinson
0
wire representing trad 1
Up the groove/chimney to below the roof.
Rick McGregor and Bill Atkinson, 1975.
12 Carson Judge
0
wire representing trad
On the Right side of north face. Easy groove to lower left corner of hanging slab, bolt belay. Take grassy corner and follow groove to top of triangular rib.
Wayo Carson, Murray Judge, Feb 2002.
13 Fly Higher , 22 , 20
3
wire representing trad
Take easy slab to the first bolt on a thin ledge slanting up and left.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
10mYes
 Take easy slab to the first bolt on a thin ledge slanting up and left.
2220mYes
  Climb the rough black rock on the right, trying to avoid the water, then step back left and up the water-worn slab to the scoop. There is often a water streak flowing.
3200mYes
 Up and reach left to clip the first bolt, then up the rib on shallow pockets to ring bolt. The name refers to the light plane that had crashed into Gertrude Saddle some months earlier.
Wayo Carson, Murray Judge, Feb 2002.
14 Fish Gills 23 , 19 , 17 , 22 , 19 , 15 200m
2.01
4bolts wire representing trad
The starting ledge may be snow covered. Interesting and cruxy slab moves through the ‘gills’, then more climbing with a second crux to the hourglass flake. Four bolts.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
12335m4Yes
 The starting ledge may be snow covered. Interesting and cruxy slab moves through the ‘gills’, then more climbing with a second crux to the hourglass flake. Four bolts.
21940mYes
 Follow flake system left, stepping onto face, then up through vegetated corner and small roof and left to rejoin the flake.
31735mYes
 Move around left on obvious jugs, clip bolt then follow vague ramp up and left to another bolt. Traverse left to anchor.
42220mYes
 Exciting moves through flake into undercling; traverse into corner and bridge up, exiting left.
51940mYes
 Follow blunt arête on right hand side of slab, then step left and follow bolts to top.
61530mYes
 Follow crack system up and left to top-out on scree slope.
Wayo Carson, Sean Horsley, Feb 2001.
15 Maňana 20 , 21 , 20 , 19 , , 19
0
wire representing trad
Starts on sloping ledge; delicate moves up to belay.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
1200mYes
 Starts on sloping ledge; delicate moves up to belay.
2210mYes
 Left to bolt, then hard move to second bolt or an easier variant out right.
3200mYes
 Traverse right and climb steep pocketed black wall past three bolts. Continue up and left.
4190mYes
  Up to roof, then traverse right passing three bolts to belay.
50mYes
 Take the slab moves straight up. Belay is left and above blocky arête.
6190mYes
  Natural gear to belay. There are ring bolts 20m down from Fish Gills. Maňana gives the most direct rap down.
Jamie Foxley, Murray Judge, Feb 2004.
16 Bandito 15
0
wire representing trad
A slab route to the first belay of Day Tripper.
Wayo Carson, Matt Squires, Mar 2000.
17 Day Tripper 16
0
wire representing trad
Two pitches. Start 10 metres right of Fish Gills. Requires one abseil from top bolts.
Doug Carson, Murray Judge, 1988.
18 Carson Judge 21
0
wire representing trad
Three pitches: 17, 17, 21. Located at the end of the sidle from the traverse just right of the rock rib.
Wayo Carson, Murray Judge, 2005.
Denz Judge
0
wire representing trad
A four pitch route midway along the steep section of the face. Climb a groove to a loose block in an overhang, then step right and climb a corner to the ridge.
Bill Denz, Murray Judge, Feb 1977.
English Gabites Reichwein
0
wire representing trad
The gully at the right-hand end of the steep section of rock.
Merv English, Geoff Gabites, Peter Reichwein, 1977.
Attribution: 
Craig Jefferies