Mt Aspiring


"This was a life changing experience!"

Graham, New Zealand, Mt Aspiring, March 2017

Having been with Aspiring Guides for 3 other adventures, I was very confident you would be the best company to lead us on our most challenging project to date. Apart from climbing Aspiring, I knew we would be well looked after in terms of food and every possible comfort, based on most recent experience on the Gillespie. Carla and the rest of the Team at Aspiring Guides were great in terms of providing the information / reassurance of our ability / and clear understanding of the challenge ahead. Also very helpful advising us on training before arriving in Wanaka, which proved to be invaluable on the climb, and meant we got up to speed with our guides on the 2 training days we had. The climb was a stretch even though I was very fit, I gave it my all and had an amazing climb.  I leant a new meaning of ‘exposure’. I thought it related to wind and rain, but now see it is more about ‘drop’…. The pre training ensured we were safe, but equally importantly so were the guides. The tranquility of the mountains, so peaceful and surreal when you’re up there. Still hard to believe I achieved my goal! Now I believe I can do anything if I put my mind to it!

Check out this video of Gary and Graham reaching the top : click here


More Information

The Routes on Mt Aspiring:
North West Ridge (2+) Season: All Year

North West Ridge is an ideal but challenging route for climbers who are fit but have little serious climbing experience. There are a variety of rock and snow approaches that may be used to attain the upper slopes of the mountain. This is the perfect climb for people who have done walk up peaks such as Island Peak, Kilimanjaro or Mont Blanc and want to try something more technical.

South West Ridge (3+) Season : October - January

The South West Ridge offers sustained and exposed snow and ice climbing for the more technically adept. The majority of the route is 45-50 degrees with three pitches of 60 degree ice at the summit.  Good cramponing skills are paramount. Expect to be thrilled by the exciting finish to this wonderful climb.   Only clients with previous steep ice experience will be accepted for this route. Check out Adam Malski's video of this route : click here

South Face (4+) Season :  October  - January

The South Face is a sustained 50-70 degree ice.  We only accept previous clients for this route. 

Mount Aspiring takes on average 12 - 16 hours return from Colin Todd Hut. The walk out from the mountain is a further two days through spectacular alpine scenery.

Available Dates

2019/20 Dates Availability  
28 Oct - 1 Nov Open  
4 - 8 Nov Open  
11 - 15 Nov FULL  
18 - 22 Nov FULL  
25 - 29 Nov 2 places available  
2 - 6 Dec FULL  
9 - 13 Dec Open  
16 - 20 Dec Open  
Jan - April, 2020 Open  

Dates don't work for you?   No problem. 
Let us know your preferred dates and we'll see what we can do.


Technical Difficulty

Mount Aspiring is a serious and challenging climb. Most people expecting a "walk up ascent" similar to what they have done in other countries are surprised at the technical difficulties encountered on Aspiring.  While objective hazards such as rock and ice fall certainly exist, in general Mt Aspiring is a safe mountain to climb making it a good option for people who are fit but relatively inexperienced. The guide can handle the technical difficulties leaving the client free to concentrate on the climbing.

In the early season (October to December), The Ramp is the normal ascent route and involves 10 pitches of snow or ice of 35-50 degrees to gain the summit ridge. The summit ridge is exposed walking.

Conditions vary annually but usually by New Year, The Ramp becomes cut off and for later season climbs, the Full NW Ridge is the normal ascent route and is viable through to early May. It is a primarily very exposed rock scrambling done in mountaineering boots with several pitches of snow or ice at the summit. For the most part the rock is exposed but easy scrambling but being comfortable climbing grade 14 (5.6 US, 4b HS British) will be beneficial for the trickier sections. 

The South West Ridge is continuous snow and ice arête rising out of the Bonar Glacier directly to the summit. It culminates in 3-4 pitches of 50-60 degree ice. Descent is usually by the NW Ridge. The season varies a great deal since it largely depends on the condition of the ice in the upper couloir. It is not generally climbed after mid January.

Physical Difficulty

Good fitness, balance and coordination are required to climb Mt Aspiring by any route. The summit day can last between 12 - 14 hours and ascends 1200 vertical meters requiring good mental and physical endurance.  In early season, snow and ice routes will push ankle and calf strength to the limit. The day of the climb you will be carrying a light alpine pack 5-7 kg but for access and egress you will be required to carry a pack of 12-15 kg up and down steep hills. 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. A good endurance training aim is to be able to climb 300 vertical meters in under an hour.

The altitude and exposure mean that for most trips you can expect at least some inclement weather: wind, snow, rain and intense sun.  

Price Details

Guide Ratio Price  
5 day On Peak (Nov-Dec) $5,700  
5 day Off Peak (Jan-April) $5,300  
7 day $7,500  

7 day ascent is walk in/ walk out.


What's Included
  • free use of all technical climbing gear
    - see equipment section below for details
  • meals and energy snacks
  • alpine hut / tent accommodation
  • national park, landing & guide fees
  • 15% goods and services tax
  • 1 day weather contingency
Not included-
  • Helicopter flight in for the 5 day Ascent

Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Day One

Meet at our office 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.  

Heli into Bevan Col

Day Two

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.

Mt Aspiring in the background

Day Three

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.

Near the summit - Mt Aspiring

Day Four

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.

Colin Todd Hut

Day Five

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.


Equipment Details

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

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