South Face

(10 routes)

The south face contains some excellent long alpine rock routes, but parties will need to move extremely fast and travel light if they do not want a cold night out on the face.

‘The South Face of Sabre is perhaps the best classical rock climb in this fair land.’ Murray Jones.

Face (Alpine)
Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
WTL Walk the Line VI 6 WI5
Daniel Joll, Steve Fortune, October 2012
1 The Big Corner
Climb the slabs toward the Marian Sabre Col, traversing into the face via a ledge system below the overhangs. Two points of aid through the right side of the overhang, then 300m up the corner to the notch on the West Ridge.
Stu Allan, Bill Denz, Feb 1978.
The Big Corner Variation 18
Climb initial slabs to directly below the left side of the central overhang. Traverse to the right end of the overhang, then climb through on great holds and good gear, crux. Trend left and up on slabs for two rope lengths before gaining the ‘big corner’. The corner itself goes free at grade 17.
Andy Macfarlane, John McCartney, 1996.
3 Natural Progression 20
Start as for the Big Corner then from the right-hand end of the central overhangs move out left onto a beautifully exposed arête. The arête is followed to the West Ridge. 1) 18. Climb through right-side of central overhang then trend up and left. 2-3) Trending up and left on easygoing slabs. 4) Follow crack onto arête to rock horn belay. 5) Up arête trending left, belay left of hanging flake. 6) Climb double cracks, belay at bottom of corner. 7) Follow line of weakness up to broken ledges and West Ridge.
Allan Uren, Greg Beisly, Jan 1997.
4 Natural Progression Direct Start 21
Take a direct line up the slabs directly below the right-hand edge of the central overhangs. 1) 18. Initial steep moves up and left lead to clean crack climbing, trend right to belay. 2) 21. Follow cracks up and right to small overlap on great gear. Committing moves to pass a small overlap on the right then climb directly up to the right side of the central overhangs.
Craig Jefferies and Partner, 1999.
5 Fisher-McLeod 18,
An excellent sustained route which follows a continuous series of cracks, topping out high on the West Ridge just short of the summit. The route begins on the right side of the central slabs. 1) 17. Up initial steep slabs, trending right and working up broken cracks to left-facing corner. Belay up and left. 2) 16. Follow obvious right-slanting gully. 3) 17. Continue up face and into obvious corner. 4) 14. A ramp leads to a ledge with sling belay. 5) 18. Thin moves right across slab until a left-facing corner is gained. A classic thin corner requiring delicate moves; belay above on small rubble ledge. 6) 18. Continue up corner system; some devious moves through a series of bulges . 7) 14. Follow weakness to a belay beside right-facing corner. 8) 16. Climb prow which breaks an overlap band. 9) 16. Follow groove up then trend right for belay. 10) 14. Take broken but solid rock through overlaps for 100m until the ridge is gained.
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
John Fisher, Bill McLeod, Mar 1987.
6 Original Line 18
A line up the center of the face starting on the right of a buttress; five pitches to a steep band, then hand-jams through an overhang, crux 18. Move up and left around a second band, then up easier ground to the summit. The original ascent involved 20 pitches.
Allan Jones, Murray Jones, 1971.
7 Campbell Howard
A line to the right of the original line joining the East Ridge above the gendarme.
Andy Campbell, John Howard, 1973.
South East Face
Climb the slabs from the snow-slope just below the gully up to the Sabre Adelaide Col to join the East Ridge above the gendarme.
Archie Simpson, Bill Stevenson, Peter Barry, Jan 1966.
HT Hongi's Track VI WI5
It is quite a hike up to the base of the south face. Starts by sidling up the scree slope under the glacier nestled beneath Mt Adelaide. There is usually an avalanche cone that affords access through a weakness in the line of bluffs. Above here the ground is moderate; easily soloed up to where the fun starts. The route involves one steep pitch of 80 degree ice through the band of overhangs, this is the crux and in thin ice conditions would be very difficult. The rest of the route follows a corner system with 50 degree sections, interspersed between 70 degree steps. It is easily climbed in a day from a bivvy either at the bottom of the face or from the bivvy rock. The line runs up the right side of the face, just to the left of the gendarme on the East Ridge. It tops out just right of the summit. On the first ascent it was climbed from a bivvy in the Upper Marian, twelve hours on the face with two bivvies in a storm on the descent. It has since had several ascents and most agree it should be more popular. And probably would be if you could fly to the bottom of it.
Bill Denz, Kim Logan, July 1983.
Craig Jefferies