North Ridge

A magnificent climb involving 2400m of height gain from Douglas Rock Hut. From the hut, travel 20-30min up the Copland track, then climb scree and avalanche debris nest to the Jasper Glacier Stream. Ascend the slabs true right of the stream (don't drift true left on the slabs or you'll get dizzy), which merge into easier angled scree at about 1600m (bivy sites possible before the ridge proper), and then gain the crest of the north ridge. Above here are three prominent rock buttresses, which are generally broad, with several route possibilities. The rock 'isn't bad'. The climbing mostly involves exposed scrambling with some short steps. The true ridge offers the easiest climbing through the buttresses with difficulties often overcome on the east side. Most parties appreciate using a rope, in at least one location. (An alpine rack of 5 nuts and 3-4 cams is often sufficient with good route finding). Above the buttress, the ridge flattens out (another good bivy site) before merging into a glacial bulge. There is sometimes an icecliff here. Above the icecliffs, ascend a vague snow rib to reach a shelf just below the summit. Follow your nose to the top. Confidence in climbing un-roped on exposed ground for the majority of this route is required. It is too long to pitch the whole route. The FA party completed the route within a day return to Douglas rock. It has more recently been completed in two days from the road end. Beware - tales of epic retreats abound, including rapping off the leashes of ice-axes when getting low on gear to leave behind. Descent is usually via Welcome Pass to Scott Creek or Bluewater route. (Scott Creek may be a preferable descent if you can find the single bolt rappels).
#EwbankAlpine (Technical)Alpine (Commitment)Alpine (Mt Cook)AidWater IceMixedBoulder (Hueco)LengthBoltsTrad
V 3+ 14,
Natural pro: 
Description - Aoraki Tai Poutini, a guide for mountaineers. Rob Frost. Photos - Romain Sacchettini 2016, can be reproduced with permission.
Bruce Harrison, Nick Von Tunzelmann, Aat Vervoorn, Dec 1964.
Nick Cradock, winter 1991.
Route Image: 


Looks amazing (great photos!).
If that were my type of climbing, I would so want to do it too.

rsacchettini's picture

Hey sbaclimber, If you wanna go for Mount Sefton through a much easier way, use the route that goes up from the Copland Track's Scott Creek, then up the Douglas Neve. Fairly straightforward if glacier well covered in snow and ice meaning preferably in the end of winter (late Oct early Nov).
You can bivvy at the Welcome Pass (not too cold) for a short first day and longer summit day or start early push it to the summit and sleep on top of the Douglas Neve and descend next day meaning sleeping high up meaning you need a very good bivvy/sleeping bag + good stable weather. But other than that, not very technical, just a bit long.

We got only one life and need to go for it sometimes ! Better to live with Remorse than regrets ;-)))

Friendly yours.


Great pictures. I am a little confused where the Gr 16 came from. 3 of us climbed it slowly one Easter in Alpine boots and we never used a rope ( that I recall) until we went from the ridge to the ice cap. You would not get me soloing anything that hard in plastics. Maybe 10?.

rsacchettini's picture

Hi cragat, We had to take the rope out on 2 or 3 pitches that defo felt at least 15 if we wanna be flexible 14 but really not below. I am not that experienced after all (6 years of climbing in the Alps) but my mate Willy which is a lot more experienced (9 years of climbing numerous 4000ders in the Alps, long rock routes and mixed routes) ascertained that feeling.

The max I climbed in boots (and roped up) is a technical variation of the super popular Cosmic Arete in Chamonix, small holds on granit, was french 5+ which is about 16. And it felt just a bit harder that the crux pitches on Sefton.
But mostly that north ridge isn't really a ridge it rather looks like a buttress so we might not have chosen the easiest way after all.

I suppose it could be up to grade 16 if you don't take the best route. If you take the best line and you're familiar with appropriate use of the lower grades (i.e. if you've climbed at Arapiles) it's about grade 6.

Agree with the other comments. Mainly lots of somewhat exposed scrambling with some easy rock climbing, definitely easier than 16 (or 14) with good routefinding. Line shown on topo is quite close to what we took, except from the top of the initial slabs, we stuck more closely to the ridge, with slight weaves right or (less often) left to follow the easiest ground. Was ok in summer boots, didn't need the rope. Rock was mainly good, and often excellent, especially low on the route. Is OK as a day trip from douglas rock if you're moving well, comfortable and experienced in this sort of ground and scale of route, though planning that avoids walking back uphill to Douglas rock at days end would be preferable!

The glacier for us nowhere approached 60 degrees, somewhere in the 40 to 50 at most. It was Feb but on a good snow year (2020), we didn't use any pro or rope. Mainly snow with a little soft ice on thelower steep section of glacier. 2 of us (guides) were comfortable with one axe. The third was a more occasional mountaineer and was happy to have two tools and stiff boots (but wore approach shoes on the walking and rock). Notably, early in the day there was a substantial serac fall as we gained the ridge, which may have made it onto the (crevassed, dirty) snow fan you approach the base of the rock on. These Jasper Glacier seracs remained quite active in the daylight.