Aspiring Cook Combo

Location

East Face Mount Cook

Outstanding job...

Mike Dixon, UK

Aspiring Cook Combo -

"Aritza did an outstanding job in difficult conditions.  I have enjoyed contact with all the office staff: Jess, Carla, Henrik, Robyn and Tim who did their best to make the 2 trips work despite the vagaries of NZ weather. I would have no hesitation in using Aspiring Guides again or recommending them to friends in the UK. I would also put people in contact with Aritza if they had a summer trip to Peru...."

Join Aritza in Peru for our Tres Montanas Expedition

More Information

Mount Aspiring

Aspiring Guides has more experience on Mount Aspiring than any other mountain guiding company in the world. Whichever route you do, Aspiring is a beautiful summit and is the highlight of many people’s climbing career.  Mount Aspiring is a classic horned peak often called the "Matterhorn of the South".  Its beauty and technical climbing make it one of New Zealand's premier peaks.  It is a significant undertaking and not to be underestimated. In the interest of safety and quality we only guide Mount Aspiring as an ascent with one client and one guide unless as part of a longer instruction course. After climb the walk out from Colin Todd Hut to the road end is a very big, semi-technical descent (1400m) that many people find as challenging as the climb itself.

Mount Cook

Rising virtually from sea level, Mount Cook (3754m) is BIG by the standards of any mountain in the world.   It is heavily glaciated and there are no easy routes to its summit.  Standing out on its summit motivates climbers the world over.
 
Aoraki/Mount Cook is a serious mountain and not to be underestimated due to its comparatively low altitude.  It is regarded as more difficult than Liberty ridge on Rainer and is comparable in length and difficulty to Aguille Verte in Chamonix, France and Mt Huntington in Alaska.  Routes on Mt Cook have an element of objective hazard that is impossible to eliminate.  We prefer to only guide Mt Cook when conditions are optimal.  We end our Mt Cook season when conditions on the glaciers make progress slow and expose climbers to a higher level of risk.
 
On the Linda Glacier Route the vast majority of climbers choose to fly out, however the walk out is very rewarding particularly early season when the snow cover is good.  Later in the season the route is subject to rockfall and not recommended.


Available Dates

Please inquire about available dates for 2017 season.
Book in early for Nov & Dec 2017.

 

Difficulty

Technical Difficulty

Mt Cook via either the Linda or the Hooker is grade 3 on the Mt Cook Grading System (AD European) .  The Linda Glacier and the Linda Shelf in particular are exposed to ice fall and avalanche and while in modern times there has not been a major accident due to this objective hazard, there have been close calls.  Parties need to be able to move quickly and securely.  There is mixed ice and rock climbing up to 50°.

Physical Difficulty

Summit day is usually between 14-18 hours.  Unless you have some experience with this sort of endurance the sheer length of time you need to exert yourself can be the biggest barrier.  Pack weights are usually under 10kg.  When snow conditions are firm you spend extended periods front pointing and will need to have very good strength in your calves and legs for this sort of sustained effort.  Very good balance and crampon technique are required for the Linda Shelf where the route is very exposed and you and your guide will need to move quickly and confidently.

Also see the Mt Aspiring page for its specific difficulty information.


Price Details

Guide Ratio Price
1:1 Price On Application
2:2 Price On Application


 

What's Included
  • meals and energy snacks
  • alpine hut / tent accommodation
  • national park, landing & guide fees
  • 15% goods and services tax.
  • technical equipment - see equipment section below for details 
  • 1 day weather contingency

 


Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Days 1-5

Meet at our office in Wanaka where you will meet your guide and complete a gear check.  After a short drive to the staging area we load into our helicopter.  It is a stunning flight into Bevan Col where you begin the business end of the trip.  Your guide will give you the required instruction on glacier travel and ice axe and crampon use.  A one hour walk across the Bonar Glacier gets you to Colin Todd Hut which will be the base for your ascent.  This amazing hut is perched high on the side of the mountain at 1800m and is owned by the New Zealand Alpine Club.  Under agreement with the Alpine Club, Aspiring Guides is allowed to keep equipment at the hut which minimizes the gear you are required to carry.  The hut can be busy and in nice weather we often choose to bivi or tent outside.  We like to eat well and should you happen to bring a lightweight plastic bottle of your favourite beverage it would not be a problem.

Often clients benefit from an acclimatisation day to get used to their surroundings and to explore the area.  There are several smaller summits nearby that can be climbed  to give the guide time to familiarise you with the equipment and techniques required.  This day also gives you some time up your sleeve should the weather not cooperate.

Summit day usually starts at around 4 am.  After a good breakfast and a strong cup of your second favourite beverage, the climbing begins.  Guides usually time it so you arrive at the more technical climbing around day break.  The nerves begin to settle down as you watch the shadow of Mount Aspiring dominate the horizon and stretch out towards the Tasman Sea.  The most technical climbing is usually spent gaining the upper ridge of the mountain either by the "ramp " or the NW Ridge.  It is a thrilling climb as you begin to rise above the many peaks in the area.  The summit ridge takes about 2 hours but it can seem an eternity as your fitness is put to test.  The summit of Mt Aspiring is one of the more aesthetically pleasing peaks you will ever climb.  It rises to a sharp point  from where you can get a staggering view of the South Island mountains.  The descent is a mixture of walking, down climbing and abseiling.   It is slow work for tired legs but there is an uplifting sense of achievement as you realize that you just might pull off this great accomplishment.

It is a slow start for tired bodies but after a massive breakfast the journey continues.  There are two options for getting to the valley floor.  Either way it is 1400m of descent to get down, if your thighs don't feel it yet, they will.  The faster/bad weather option is to cross the Bonar Glacier to Bevan Col and descend this improbable rocky gash of a route to the valley floor.  It is a pretty wild ride finding your way down steep rock slab, an abseil and some amazingly over-steepened boulder fields. Nine hours gets you to Aspiring Hut.  It is only a few hours from there to the trail end but most people decide they have had enough long before they get to hut ... the sight of a soft bunk is too tempting to pass up.

The other option is to make your way from Colin Todd up the Bonar to the summit ridge of Mt French then descend to French Ridge hut.   This can be a smooth travel in early summer but as the season wears on, the route gets more and more broken.  The route will take you through vast crevasse fields and roped descents through towering blocks of ice.  A very nice route but since it rises from Colin Todd it can be a daunting route finding mission in bad weather.

The final walk out to the trail end and the waiting vehicle can seem like a dream since over your shoulder you can catch glimpses of the summit of Aspiring.  It can seem beyond belief that you were so recently there.  The car and your trip to the nearest shower is 5 hrs from French Ridge Hut or 2 hours from Aspiring Hut.

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Days 6-10

We usually meet at 8:30 at our office in Wanaka.  Here you will meet  your guide and do a complete gear check and go over the weather forecast.   Any last minute items of equipment are assembled and loaded into our vehicle for the drive to Mount Cook Airport (2hrs).  You can leave any gear or valuables at our office.  Mount Cook Airport is a small air strip within Mount Cook Park located on the eastern side of the mountain.  Here we load the helicopter for the 15 minute flight to Plateau Hut (2,200m).  The helicopter lands near the hut so we are able to provide excellent food and can cater for individual tastes.  Usually there is time for a walk to the dome next to hut to get  shake down of your equipment and to begin to settle into this amazing location.

To give the best possible chance of success we need the biggest possible weather window.  To ascend Mt Cook you need favorable weather and snow conditions and we find that a six day option provides a high level of success.  Some trips are lucky enough to have long periods of fine weather and to have a choice of summit days while other trips need to take advantage of a narrow period of opportunity.  There is the opportunity to climb some of the smaller peaks in the area while you wait for the weather to clear on the higher mountain.  The Anzacs (2520) are and excellent day out and a chance to get used to climbing in the magnificent area.

Summit day usually starts with a 1 am wakeup call.  It can be difficult to eat at that  hour but your guide will provide a hot drink and breakafast before you start out.  With hard snow conditions progress is fast across the lower part of the glacier and as the valley narrows into the Linda Glacier you will start to enounter more crevasses to navigate around.  Early in the season this can be straight forward but as the season wears on progress can be slow.  Sunrise should see you at the top of the Linda Shelf where you will begin to encounter your first rock on the route.  The summit rocks are generally easy climbing but after this you begin to feel the effects of the altitude and effort.  While the summit ice cap is easy climbing with short periods of pitching it can seem like a long way to the summit.  The summit of Mount Cook is like no other, here you stand on a small island in the South Pacific at an elevation that puts you higher than anything from Asia to South America.

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Equipment Details

This video provides practical demonstration of the common equipment and clothing required for mountaineering.

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