South Face

(15 routes)

The first ascent of the South Face was made by Pete Moore and Revill Bennett on Christmas Eve, 1971. The climb commenced as a reconnaissance in deteriorating weather at 2pm and was concluded, 12 hours later, in a snowstorm. A bivouac was attempted on the face but in the absence of adequate bivvy gear it was soon abandoned and the climb continued.

Subsequent attempts to dig in were also abandoned due to cold and lack of food and the descent was eventually commenced at 2am, French Ridge Hut being regained at 9am.

The second ascent was made by Bill Denz and Limbo Thompson in early May 1972. They started up the face at 1pm bivvying as darkness fell, about 50 metres below the upper part of the Coxcomb Ridge before completing the climb and returning to French Ridge the next day.

A direct finish to the route was made by Moore and Bennett in August, 1973. A variation including the lower rock band was climbed by Ken Hyslop and Neil Whiston in January 1976.

Face (Alpine)
Reference Title Grade Length Quality Bolts Gone Natural pro Link to edit content
1 Original Line IV 4
This route on the South Face involves a climb of 530m from the foot of the face. It generally parallels the South West Ridge up a series of small snow ramps and intervening rock steps, until below the very steep rock face directly beneath the summit. Here there is a prominent snow arête which is crossed and a rising traverse is followed until the exit gullies are reached. There are a number of these all of a similar grade.
Pete Moore, Revill Bennett, December 1971
2 Denz Thompson IV 4
Denz and Thompson turned the bottom rock band by way of the ice cliffs above the schrund at the western end of the rock band. The upper part of the route sidles beneath the summit rock face until better angled ice slopes lead out on to the snow arête of the upper Coxcomb, about 50m below the summit.
Bill Denz, Limbo Thompson, May 1972
3 Quite Direct IV 5
A direct finish variation which avoids any sidling and tops out on the summit. When the prominent snow arête below the summit rock band is reached go straight up and climb a narrow five metre ice pillar sandwiched between a slab on the left and an overhanging wall on the right. Then there are 3-4 pitches up a gully which ends on the summit.
Allan Uren, October 1993
4 Santa Claws IV 5
An ice climb on the leftmost part of the South Face. Start as for route 1 but continue directly up to the schist headwall above (rather than following the right tending ramps of 1 & 2). At the headwall follow a ramp that climbs rightward. At the top of this a rock and ice chimney (crux) breaks through the headwall to join the Summit Ridge. Cross over this ridge into the gully at the top of the South West Ridge and continue up easy ground to the summit. Completed in 52 hours return from Christchurch.
Alex Palman, Daniel Druce, July 1995
5 Mixed Aspirations IV 5+
This is a fine line tackling the bottom rock band at its proudest point. The rock band is the most difficult climbing and is generally of a mixed nature. At about three quarters height the route joins the other routes and finishes up the Moore direct finish. 12 pitches.
Pete O’Connor, Bruce Hasler, summer 1997
6 24 Hour Party People IV 5+
A reasonably direct line that climbs through the overhangs in the middle of the South Face. It exited up "Perspiring" about 2 hours after it had been ascended. ED2 Scottish VII
James Edwards, Kev Neal, Oliver Metherell, January 19, 2005
7 Whiston Hyslop Line IV 5+
Starts out right through the bottom rock band onto the ice field mid-height, then angles back left diagonal towards the summit and the normal exit gullies. About 10 pitches were climbed after the rock band.
Neil Whiston, Ken Hyslop, January 1976
P Perspiring 5+
Starts up obvious ramp ( Scottish 4) to the R of the lower rock band. Traverses L then exits onto the Coxcomb where indicated.
Chris Fox, Howie McGhie January 19, 2005
S Shooting Star 5+ WI3 M4
Start as for Perspiring. Climb through the lower rock band, follow gully and then gradually traverse left until under obvious notch. Head up through some ice/mixed pitches and exit at the obvious notch at the coxcomb. 12 x 60m pitches plus four pitches along the Coxcomb ridge. Cruxes pitche 1 WI3 & M3, Pitch 3 WI3+ & M4, Pitch 10 WI3+ & M3, Pitch 12 M4 8-12 ice screws, single set of cams 0 - 2, single set of wires 1 - 7, 8-12 draws.
Daniel Joll, Ben Dare, September 2014
Shooting Thar IV 5+
A deep-winter linkup from the Whiston-Hyslop start to a new finish between Shooting Star and Thule. FA involved descent down the NW/Ramp via the Coxcomb. Generally WI2/3 climbing (in condition) other than the beautiful 60m crux pitch - a WI3 hose, with three vertical mixed steps at WI4+ / M5. Route is defined by the large chockstone visible in the middle of the flow, which breaks the second rock band - the start of the crux pitch moves around this to the right - belaying underneath is recommended for overhead on the crux. FA gear: Nuts (8 - 13), Cams & Tricams (x6 to #2), Screws (x12), 2-3 Blades. 15 - 18hrs on FA.
Ruari Macfarlane, George Loomes, July 2020
T Thales
Janette Heung, Lukas Kirchner, September 2016
8 Leo Hugo IV 5
Starts just left of The Shiny Beast, linking together two ice ramps.
Antoine Cayrol, Francois Bernard, December 2002
9 The Shiny Beast IV 5
A steep nine pitch ice route. There were about four pitches through the bottom rock band and then a couple of easier pitches that were climbed simultaneously. Then a mixed pitch to join the Coxcomb about halfway along the ridge. Required a bivvy just below the ‘Coxcomb’. The Beast being the ice; it was green and glistening but good to climb.
Brian Weedon, Neal Whiston, December 1981
Kia rapu i tōku māramatanga [Seeking the Light] IV 5 WI3 M4 300m
A tricky start with some mixed moves, this line begins to the left of Chocolate Fish and climbs straight up to the Coxcomb Ridge.
Sooji Clarkson, Gavin Lang 27th July 2020
10 Chocolate Fish Route III 4
This slash on the right side of the face was used as a variant start to the Coxcomb. The route is nice straight up ice climbing and a wonder-filled start to the Coxcomb. Some of the route approaches vertical but bridging eases the strain. Five full fifty-metre pitches.
Allen Uren, Clinton Beavan, summer 1997
References: Allan Uren & John Cocks. | | Photo: Duncan Ritchie. |