Mount Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain, 3754m/12315ft. Although not very high by international standards it is its relative height that makes this mountain very impressive. From the road end at Mount Cook village to the top of the mountain it is over 3000m/10,000ft vertical that a climber has to negotiate. Most climbers choose to negotiate the first 1200m by ski plane or helicopter. This maximises the chances of success on the mountain. Aoraki/Mount Cook has special significance for NgaiTahu.
As the climb involves sustained glacier travel with rock and ice climbing and a 15-20 hour summit day, participants need to be competent climbers and exceptionally fit. You will be required to submit a detailed list of previous climbing experience and a schedule of personal fitness training - please refer to the 'Climbing Fitness & Experience' section.
Technical Difficulty: The Linda Glacier route on Mount Cook has a Grade 3, which corresponds roughly to European AD, but grades in New Zealand provide only a rough indication of difficulty and are assigned as an "average" in normal conditions. Level of difficulty can change dramatically just with a rapid change in weather conditions and corresponding snow and ice conditions.
"Mount Cook is a world-class climb. Fantastic guide, extremely strong climber and great instructor." - L. Freitag, USA. Ski ascent.
1 participant only per guide.
|2013-14 Season: Price per person in NZ$ (valid 1 May 2013 - 30 April 2014)|
|NZ$100 returning client discount, if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
Please note that on public holidays there will be a surcharge of NZ$200 (incl. GST) per person per day.
New Zealand public holidays 2013-14: New Year 1/1 & 2/1, Waitangi Day 6/2, Good Friday 18/4, Easter Monday 21/4, Anzac Day 25/4, Labour Day 27/10, Christmas Day 25/12, Boxing Day 26/12.
Included: NZMGA/IFMGA mountain guide for 6 days, hut fees, all food & surface transport ex Lake Tekapo, hire of all mountaineering equipment (with the exception of boots), National Parks concession fees, 15% GST.
Meals and accommodation before/after tour are NOT included.
Aircraft access (not included): Plateau Hut one way Cessna carrying 3 + gear is NZ$495. You can often share costs with other climbers flying in. Current rate for helicopter carrying 5 + gear to Grand Plateau is NZ$708.
We strongly recommend aircraft access. Most climbers opt to fly to Plateau Hut, because of the roughness of the Tasman Glacier moraine, unstable rock on Haast Ridge and the time taken to walk in. Chances of a summit success are increased by flying in, because you can take immediate advantage of a fine weather day for a summit attempt (if you walk in you will need a rest day before commencing your summit attempt at midnight).
» Plateau Hut, the base from which you climb Mount Cook is a public hut that cannot be booked.
» The hut works on a first-come first-served basis.
» Climbers must carry their own sleeping bags and food to the hut as well as some party equipment and their personal equipment.
» A new Plateau Hut was completed in April 2005.
» Fitness: Participants need to be exceptionally fit, well coordinated and mentally and physically strong. Summit day involves 15-20 hours climbing.
» Experience: A climb of Mt Cook is more technically difficult than a climb of Mt Everest! For this reason we require participants to prove their suitability before Mt Cook will be attempted. This can be done by:
These requirements are in place to ensure the safety of you and your guide and to make sure you have a realistic chance of success on Aoraki. If you do not have the necessary experience or fitness to attempt Mt Cook now, contact us. We will create a customised pathway to prepare you to tackle Mt Cook in the future.
A climb of Aoraki Mount Cook takes at least three climbing days. To book a guide for less than 6 days is unrealistic as it allows no flexibility in case of bad weather, and reduces your chances considerably of a successful climb.
» LINDA GLACIER:
From Plateau Hut at 2200m climbers begin winding up the gentle (10-30°) Linda Glacier under torchlight following a 1am start.
» LINDA SHELF:
Just as dawn is starting to colour the sky we move onto the much more challenging Linda Shelf. This 500m long ice-shelf requires us to traverse carefully along usually icy slopes of between 30-35°, demanding a high level of cramponing skill. This part of the route perhaps requires the most care.
» SUMMIT ROCKS:
Daylight should see us at the base of the famous Summit Rocks. This 150m high rock buttress holds 4 pitches (rope lengths) of mixed rock snow and ice climbing that provide a real thrill and require the use of two ice tools. This buttress is the technical crux of the route with short near vertical steps and a sustained grade of 60°.
» SUMMIT ICE CAP:
After the technical challenge of the summit rocks the summit ice cap awaits. 25-35° ice and snow slopes lead you up past the ice chandeliers and toward the top of New Zealand. The knife-edge summit ridge winds away to the south and the whole country falls beneath your feet.
The descent is via the same route and requires a lot of careful cramponing and some steep abseils to return to the comfort of Plateau Hut some 14-20 hours since you left.
WARNING: The Linda Glacier route on Mt Cook requires climbers to pass below hanging glaciers. These glaciers collapse regularly and without warning. While there have been relatively few fatalities from these collapses, there have been many near misses. We will only climb Mt Cook when conditions allow us to avoid the bulk of these hanging glaciers, but some risk will always remain. There are other mountains that do not require travel beneath hanging glaciers. The choice to attempt the Linda Glacier route on Mt Cook is a personal one and should be made in the knowledge that these risks exist and are out of our control.
» Climbing times on Mount Cook depend largely on snow conditions and the crevasse situation of the Linda Glacier. During winter and spring there is often little difficulty in finding a route through the Linda ice-fall, however, skis or snow shoes must be used during these times.
During summer months access is by foot. Early during the season, November - December crevasses are usually well filled in, however, deep snow can make progress very slow, while firmer snow during January and February must be weighed up against more broken and sometimes difficult conditions on the glacier. Access during late summer (March-April) is usually cut off completely, particularly after a poor winter and a hot early summer.
Weather conditions are usually more settled during the later part of the summer (Jan-Feb) and during early/mid winter.
» In September 2007 Alpine Recreation suspended guided ascents on Aoraki Mount Cook via the Linda Glacier. Hot summer temperatures and relatively low snowfall rates during the previous winters had left the Linda Glacier, the standard ascent route, heavily crevassed, forcing climbers closer underneath dangerous ice cliffs and it was felt that the objective hazard of this route had become unacceptably high.
After a very good snow winter in 2008 and good glacier conditions in summer 2009-2010, the decision was reviewed.
The 2009 winter brought another very good snow season, so that crevasses were nicely filled in making for much safer conditions on the Linda Glacier for the 2009-2010 summer. The 2010-11 was good during November-December, but access up the Linda became difficult earlier than usual (from mid-January).
» The Linda Glacier route still has significant objective hazards and you may wish to consider other options such as Mount Tasman or an alternative mountain or to participate on one of our Intermediate and Advanced Climbing Courses and learn the necessary skills so that you can work towards attempting one of the harder routes on Aoraki. Such a route could be the East Ridge, or the Hooker Face, which are not affected by the ice fall or crevasse problems that you encounter on the Linda Glacier.
Alpine Recreation provides all technical mountaineering equipment. The only equipment that clients are requested to bring are their own mountaineering boots as we only store a limited range of such boots. Plastic climbing boots are suitable for both summer and winter ski ascents. A detailed equipment list will be sent at time of booking. Outdoor clothing and packs can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary.
Accommodation pre-/post- tour:
As our equipment check takes place at 8am on the morning of departure, you need to book accommodation in Tekapo the night before. After the tour, it is recommended to overnight in Tekapo again, or in Mount Cook. Accommodation options in Tekapo.
In case of accident New Zealand's Accident Compensation scheme (ACC) will cover the majority of costs (about 80%) involved with evacuation and injury treatment, even for visitors to New Zealand. However you still need ordinary travel insurance to cover such things as your cancellation if an injury prevents you taking part on the trip, or a close relative suddenly becomes ill; and medical insurance in case you become ill. More information re Accident Compensation. The New Zealand Alpine Club provides a good mountaineering specific travel insurance.