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 pee off the edge of the Chill-Out Ledge, or anywhere inside the rain curtain, as 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 saw some flashes of white through the bush and decided to take a closer look. High Ideals and Crazy Dreams was the first route to be completed. The quality of the rock and the engaging climbing was a great incentive to try all of 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, but 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 impressively steep route. Along with visiting Brits, some of the Wanaka posse gave up the wire brush and headed to the deep south. Steve Henry and Dave Roberts established a set of quality teenage climbs that worked their way up to the Chill Out Ledge. Hugh Barnard bolted Jack the Biscuit, an exposed ramp moving left off the Chill Out Ledge. A year or so later, Paul was back with Kevin Nicolas to create Vertically Challenged up a steep dyke on the right-hand wall. Since 2000, Mayan Gobat-Smith, Derek Thatcher, Andy Cockburn and Josiah Jacobsen-Grocott have completed some harder routes on the roofs and overhangs above the Chillout Ledge.
From Homer Hut drive towards Milford Sound through the tunnel and down the Cleddau Valley. At about 8.5km from Homer Hut, you'll reach a set of gates, used for controlling traffic during the avalanche season. If you get to Chasm Creek, you've come too far.
There are two access tracks 30m apart:
Track One: On the Milford Sound side of the gates, look for a small cairn and a vague track on the right-hand side of the road. Follow the track for a couple of minutes through the bush, then cross the creek bed and make your way up to the left end of the crag. This is definitely the dryer option.
Track Two: About two metres back from the gates on the Homer side, look for very faint evidence of a track and follow it into the bush. You'll find a steep creek bed which can be followed to the base of the crag, immediately below High Ideals and Crazy Dreams. This track is difficult to find from the bottom, but can be more easily followed from the top.