South Face

(9 routes)

The South face of Douglas looms above the Albert Glacier and its steep arêtes create amphitheatres amidst near-vertical rock. The south face throws out a challenge to any climber who ventures under it. Although the main routes on the face are described below, some variations do exist.
Descent: Until recently, the standard descent was over Glacier Peak. If you plan to go this way check that the west face is not too open with crevasses and a bergschrund, and that you have enough rope and gear for a abseil off Douglas towards Glacier Peak. People have got ropes stuck on this abseil in the past. Nowadays many people abseil the face on V -threads which puts you back at your skis ...

Face (Alpine)
Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
11.57 Jefferies- Uren III 5 5
Follows a vague gully on the left side of the face, finishing a little over half way up Pioneer Ridge.
Craig Jefferies, Allan Uren. 2002
11.58 Left Hand Gully IV 4 5-
Where it all began—a classic and highly recommended climb. Follow the narrow couloir that gradually widens and meets the central arête. Continue up, traverse right into the upper Central Gully just above the crux in that line, and on to the summit. The Left Hand Gully is quite a bit easier than the Central Gully, being less steep overall. Remember that in 1968 when the first ascent was made, they still climbed ‘in balance,’ using straight picks so that you had to hold the shaft of the axe out from the ice to prevent the pick popping out. Short ropes, pitons, primitive ice protection—an amazing first ascent.
George Harris, Murray Jones, Dec 1968.
11.59 Albertown Direct IV 5 5+ WI3 M2
A creative line that runs up the front face of the central buttress to the central snow arête and finishes up the upper Left Hand Gully. Cruxes of WI3 and M3.
Craig Jefferies, Dave Vass, July 2003
11.60 Interceptor IV 4+
A new variation to the Central Couloir route that traverses from the right to the left couloir lower than the original line does, hence missing the central couloir, and involving four pitches of new ground to reach route 11.58
Andrew Haugh, Grant Piper, Paul Scaife, , Oct 2003
11.60 Denz/Timms IV 4+ 5
Follow the lower Right Hand Gully to near the foot of the obvious narrow notch (at two thirds height), and then traverse up and left, below the headwall of the Central Gully, to cross over the central arête, finishing up Route 11.58.
Bill Denz, Chris Timms, August 1971
11.62 Central Gully IV 5 5+
This is one of the great ice climbs of New Zealand—a perfect line on a beautiful face. Follow Route 11.61 as far as the first section of the leftwards traverse into the Central Gully. Here there are two pitches of steep ice. The first is around 80 degrees and usually forms as water ice. The second pitch gradually relents, and then moderate ground leads to the summit. Abseiling the route has become popular on V threads, which has the added advantage of bringing you back to your skis, but think carefully about whether this is feasible for you on the lower pitches, which can collect a lot of snow. Legend has it that a party, while retreating from just below the crux, dropped both their ropes and had to downclimb the lower pitches.
Nick Cradock, John Davie, Colin Dodge, Roland Logan, William Trengrove, Aug 1977.
11.63 Right Hand Gully IV 4 5
Climb the gully to an obvious deep notch, which can be ascended or else avoided using a ramp on the left, and then exit via a wide couloir onto the Ayres Ridge. A good route if you like climbing notches.
Bill Denz, Ian Ross, Nov 1972. (Denz and Chris Timms climbed up to the base of the notch before continuing on Route 11.61 in Aug 1971)
11.64 Far Right Rib 4+
Follow the rock rib, right of the Right Hand Gully, which joins the Ayres Ridge.
Geoff Bartram, Ben Read, Jan 1979.
11.65 Ayres Ridge V 4+
An unrelenting ridge between Mt Haidinger and Douglas Peak, with many rock towers varying in soundness. The final rise to the summit of Douglas is probably the hardest section and can be avoided on the east. In 1977, Dave McNulty described this as the most technically sustained section of the Elie to Harper Saddle traverse, a view affirmed by Phil Penney and Allan Uren during their 1990 winter traverse.
Harry Ayres, Bruce Gillies, Feb 1953