Darrans Alpine Rock


The Darran Mountains in the Fiordland National Park and World Heritage Area

Darrans Alpine Rock- Mt Sabre

Richard Kimberley

"Not only did I learn/update some skills but I was pushed hard with my fitness on rock and all round physical ability.  Federico was very good at looking out for my safety. I think I would trust my grandma with him (if she were still around). He also has a calm, easy-going manner and I thought him very professional. As far as his performance and ability as a guide, I thought him outstanding. Achieved everything I wanted to do on this trip and more.  Climbing the North buttress of Sabre was definitely the highlight of the trip."

More Information

Moir’s Mate
The west face of Moir’s Mate offers the best alpine rock climbing in the country. The approach is a mountaineering route in it’s own right as it traverses the fantastically exposed ridge from Homer Saddle. Options include the traditionally protected 8 pitch Bowen-Allen corner (17) or the modern classic Lucky Strike (20). The summit commands fantastic views down to the Hollyford and Cleddau valleys where minute tourist buses wind down to Milford Sound. This is one of the few venues in the area that, with an early start, a climb can be achieved in a day trip from the valley floor.

Mt Sabre (2162m)
The North Ridge of Mount Sabre is the classic ascent in the Darrans. It is a long, committing route that traverses the peak to descend down the east ridge. The setting is remote and spectacular. You need to be fit to carry a pack on the challenging full day approach into one of the iconic Darrans bivi rocks. Phil’s Biv is located at the head of Moraine Creek in the Lake Adelaide Cirque and is one of the hidden gems of Fiordland. It is a large boulder that you could park a house beneath, surrounded by massive cliffs. This luxurious location has been used as a home away from home since the area was first discovered. The ascent of Sabre requires you to climb confidently up to grade 18/5.8. From high belay ledges the vistas open out over Barrier Knob through Adelaide Saddle towards Milford Sound and the sea, and the snowy giants of Mount Tutoko and Madeline.

The Sentinel
The southern faces of the Sentinel have several great lines including the classic South East Buttress with four pitches of grade 16. It is again a typical challenging approach up and over Barrier Knob from Gertrude Saddle, but rewarded by a stunning bivi on Adelaide Saddle where the ground seems to roll off into the abyss and you can watch the sun rise over one of the great mountain ranges of the world.

Available Dates

Dates subject to guide availability Jan to April    


There are routes for beginners but for more committing routes such as Mt Sabre you should be comfortable up grade 18 (5.8).

Price Details

Guide Ratio Price
1:1 $5,650


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

Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Day 1

We can meet at the start of your trip in either Wanaka or Queenstown. If you are on a tight schedule and flying into Queenstown, then it may be more convenient for your guide to meet you in Queenstown. If you have overnighted in Queenstown then your guide will pick you up at your accommodation around 9am. You will need to be organised with equipment but we can help you with this beforehand. After introductions and a gear check we are off on the drive to Fiordland. It is an exceptionally scenic drive (4 hours) and after leaving our gear at Homer Hut we have the afternoon to explore the local crags. The Shotwell Slabs offer accessible, well protected, multi-pitch climbing. This really is a stunningly beautiful place with towering granite rock walls all around. This is the perfect place to get used to the beautiful Darran's granite. We spend the night historic Homer Hut.

Day 2

An early start is required for any of these climbs and in all instances the approach is a journey in itself. Either up to Homer Saddle or pack your gear up the beautiful and popular Gertrude valley before leaving the beaten track and traversing up and over Barrier Knob to Adelaide Saddle. If heading onwards to Phil’s Biv and Mount Sabre, you will have to first find, then negotiate, the tricky ‘Giffords Crack’ that will definitely keep your attention.

Day 3-5

Expect a long but satisfying day for any of the climbs in this area. Some may be shortened by taking an extra day for a high bivi. Following the climb you may be treated to a relative lie-in before reversing the route back out to civilisation. If the sun is out, there is no excuse for a refreshing dip in one or all of the alpine tarns and lakes enroute.

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