The development of the Chasm Crag has helped promote an interest in modern alpine rock routes within the Darran Mountains, primarily by giving an all weather crag to play on while the high peaks are suffering from Fiordland weather.
The Chasm Crag offers three to four pitch climbs on clean steep diorite with the upper pitches protected from the rain by enormous roofs. Climbing here in a torrential downpour, on dry rock enclosed within sheets of water pouring over roofs in a 70-metre cascade, is a unique experience not to be missed.
- Don’t piss off the edge of the Chill-Out Ledge, there’s no run-off to wash it away.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Avoid unnecessary excavation or destruction of vegetation around the base of the crags.
Climbers tend to pick their way around the crag by climbing access pitches and then traversing or rapping to other anchors. A happy day can be spent linking up climbs without having to descend to the soggy forest floor. When lowering someone off the steep upper pitches, you may need to throw them a line to pull the climber in and it may be better to down-climb steep routes to retrieve gear.
It is recommended that single 60-metre rope be used, and a tag line may be useful for the long abseils. A comprehensive rack of natural pro along with quick-draws should be enough for most routes. If any extra bits are required a mention is made in the route description.
Development of the Chasm Crag began in 1993 when Paul Rogers and visiting Brit Steve Walker took a closer look at those flashes of white seen through the Cleddau bush. The first route to be completed was High Ideals and Crazy Dreams. The quality of moves on a variety of features drove them on to try all the main features on the right-hand end of the crag. One Way Ticket and Day Tripper were soon added. The next area of exploration were the slabs and overhangs on the left-hand end of the wall. The lower parts yielded some excellent natural pro climbing, however the overhanging upper wall soon became the centre of attention. A couple of days sky hooking and jug pulling produced Buster Gonad. Chris Plant made the first onsight of this outrageously steep route. Along with visiting Brits, some of the Wanaka posse gave up the wire bush and headed to the deep south. Steve Henry and Dave Roberts ‘touched and felt’ their way up a few climbs. Including quality teenage climbs that work there way up to the Chill-Out Ledge. Hugh Barnard bolted Jack the Biscuit, an exposed ramp moving left off the Chill-Out Ledge. The a year or so later Paul was back with Kevin Nicolas to create Vertically Challenged which takes a steep dyke on the right-hand wall.
More recently the Sedon brothers have been bitten by the bug (along with a few sandflies) adding routes in the Hidden Wall while Murray Ball (the cleaner) put up the classic Mr Wolf, below the Chill-Out Ledge.
From Homer Hut drive towards Milford Sound through the tunnel and down the Cleddau Valley. At 9km from Homer Hut, you will see a sign reading ‘The Chasm 400m’ on the left side of the road. This does not refer to the crag (the ‘real’ Chasm is a water-worn gorge and tourist attraction down the road). About 50m before the sign is bridge #132, which is marked by a small cairn. Park at the bridge.
There are two access tracks 30m apart:
Track One: From the Milford Sound side of the bridge, follow the wide creek bed for 5mins then duck through the bush to the left end of the crag. This is definitely the dryer option.
Track Two: At the bridge, follow a steep creek bed marked by orange tape for 5mins. This takes you directly to the base of the wall. High Ideals and Crazy Dreams is opposite the track exit.