Donne Face (South West Face)

(3 routes)

This dark face does not see many visitors. Long sustained climbing on rock that can be difficult to protect: pitons are still the protection of choice on this wall.

Face (Alpine)

Descents from the face are lengthy. Parties have opted to traverse Underwood descending the West Ridge but this is difficult and time consuming. Dropping down the Taoka Ice-fall may be an option when in condition, otherwise exit using one of the routes out of the Central Darrans.

Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
Riley Wigley 18
wire representing trad
18 pitches. Start from the high point on the glacier guarding the face. Climb straight up for 100m right of where the Taoka Icefall cuts back into the face. Tops out 200m below and west of the summit. Pitches are commonly grade 16-18 with healthy run-outs and protection which could be scrounged with a little imagination and digging.
Keith Riley, Rob Wigley, 2000.
Original Line 15
wire representing trad
30 pitches. Take the big right-facing corner at around one third height with a roof at the top. Pass the roof on the left wall, then traverse to centre of face and up to a couloir before gaining the summit. A steep face with some good free climbing. The party bivvied at the base of the wall 40m above the snowfield, and again at the summit.
Colin Dodge, Keith Lockwood, Jan 1974.
Super Crack of the Darrans III 23,21,22 150m
High on the south edge of the Donne Face of Karetai is a 150m-high free-standing gendarme. One of the few pure cracks in the Darrans and unmatched exposure. To access, gain the low notch on the Te Puoho–Donne ridge just beyond the base of the south ridge of Karetai. A 60m abseil and some scrambling takes you to the ledge at the base of the overhung south face. From the summit it’s a short scramble across a huge chockstone to rejoin the mainland at the top of the initial steep step on the south ridge (it’s another 60m abseil from here down to the névé.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad

The crack. Hands to fists to offwidth. Not technically difficult but a full body workout. Crack gloves useful.


Another 10m of crack climbing, and then angle up left across the difficult-to-read slab on spaced protection. Belay at the base of the crack where the wall steepens up again, just right of the arete.


A steep start, then left onto the west face of the gendarme. Save some juice for the final crack, finishing right onto the summit.

Derek Cheng, Rich Thomson, Rich Turner, February 2022
Craig Jefferies