There are three options when crossing Kea Pass. All involve following the West Mathias River to the
confluence with the side creek draining Mt Carl.
▶▶ The most direct route is also the most unattractive, because of a short but extremely loose and
active section of rock immediately below the grassy shelf at 1460 metres, south of Kea Pass.
Continue up the West Mathias River from the confluence with the side creek draining Mt
Carl. This section is steep and bouldery but travel is good. Follow the creek directly to Kea
Pass (do not follow the branch that flows from the west) until a small rock slab and waterfall
are reached. From here, climb the short section of extremely loose, steep rock on the left to
the shelf below the pass. This step has turned parties back. From the shelf the pass is straightforward.
▶▶ Follow the West Mathias to forks at the 1300-metre contour, close under Mathias Pass, and
continue up the true right branch. At J34 537864 / BW18 437 247 head south up a steep gravelly
tussock slab, on to a rib that becomes broad and easy. Cross the stream draining Pt 1803
metres on steep gravel and use the bench on the true left to reach Kea Pass.
▶▶ An early season alternative involves heading part way up the side creek draining Mt Carl and
sidling across steep slopes to join the basin immediately east of Kea Pass. When not snowcovered
this is a difficult sidle on steep loose rock.
From Kea Pass, sidle Button Peak, descend into Harcourt Creek and then climb a steep rocky gut
to reach a small plateau east of Pt 1644 metres. From here, sidle and descend to the north-east and to
The geological survey party reached the pass in about 1908, but did not cross ; W B Cullens, A R Cant
( first crossing), April 1935