Mt Wakefield - Guideless Buttress

Mount Cook

A long mountaineering traverse

Alpine Climbing Severe

Distance
12 km
Ascent
1.3 km
Descent
1.3 km
Low Point
698 m
High Point
2 km
Gradient
38˚
Mt Wakefield - Guideless Buttress Map

Mt Wakefield, though small in comparison to the summits behind it, provides some of the best views of the Southern Alps. Guideless Buttress is one of the longest and most sustained rock ridges in the region with continuously interesting climbing and route finding. Its ascent requires an early start and ideally leaving a drop off vehicle at the finish.

Description

From the campsite, follow the Hooker Valley track over three suspension bridges until the point where the path is closest to Mt Wakefield, a little before Hooker Lake when you can see Guideless Buttress descending towards a large scree slope. Toil your way up the scree slope to the steep left side of the buttress.

From here you have two options. Either tackle the left arete and groove of the buttress in two pitches, providing climbing in the F5b-c range, or start the buttress on the right hand side via some easy scrambling. The following section of ridge weaves around, sticking at first to the ridge, then weaving between buttresses before returning to the ridge again. The ascent is long and continuous with a mixture of good quality rock and some less so...

Eventually you'll reach the summit plateau and the summit on the opposite side of the ridge. The views across to Aoraki really are stunning from here, so take a moment to reflect before the journey down.

Although you can pack away the rope and harness, the descent is much further than you might have predicted and starts off with some engaging scrambling down a loose section of ridge. The scrambling relents but it's a long way down before you finally reach the better footpath and Hooker bridge.

Difficulty

Severe

Steep, sustained and serious terrain on rock/ice. Routes will be long, exposed and possibly committing. D, D+

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Much of the route is difficult to protect and a fall could be disastrous at certain points.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, December

Equipment required

  • Quickdraws
  • Climbing Shoes
  • Wires and Friends

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area