Footstool

Mount Cook

An engaging adventure with some some real New Zealand flavour.

Ski Touring Severe

Distance
17 km
Ascent
2.2 km
Descent
2.2 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
758 m
High Point
2.7 km
Gradient
38˚
VIEW ON MAP
Footstool  Map

Description

Footstool is one of the very best ski-mountaineering options accessible on foot from Cook Village. The beauty of this line is that you don’t need a heli or ski plane to approach it, just an appetite for some steep grass scrambling to get to the bivi hut and a mandatory hike to and from the snow line. The ski itinerary for the mountain follows the normal route of ascent for mountaineering parties on foot. While not an extreme ski descent, it is a demanding peak with some steep and exposed slopes up to 40 degrees.

A beautifully shaped and aesthetically pleasing mountain to look at, footstool has attracted many visiting climbers and skiers over the years. It sits in plain view from Cook Village and serves as an excellent ‘warm up’ for teams with ambitions on the bigger peaks.

From the Hooker Valley parking, follow the well marked footpath, making your way past throngs of bemused tourists. Be sure to cut left before heading too far up the valley. During the main ski touring season there will typically not be any snow cover down to this elevation. Hike up towards the Sefton Bivi Hut, following a faint but established trail as best you can. As the terrain steepens, take care to navigate the steep grass safely. There may be some snow patches remaining on the steep ground below the bivi hut. These have been the scene of several fatalities over the years so don’t hesitate to don crampons if the snow is firm.

The Sefton Bivi has a magnificent perch with views out to Lake Pukaki. Most teams opt to spend the night here. The hut has enough space for four and you will need to bring sleeping bags and a stove with you. The skin up and across the Tewaewae Glacier soon brings you across a faint ridge and onto the Eugenie Glacier. It is recommended to stash camping gear here that you can pick up on the return. The terrain steepens significantly in the upper Eugenie Glacier so be sure of the snow stability. The final climb up to Footstool is done on foot and the slopes can sometimes be quite icy near the summit.

Ski back down the same way until back onto the Tewaewae Glacier. From here it may be possible to take a direct line down a large and appealing couloir system. Be sure to scout the exit beforehand which can be the crux of the descent. The classic line of descent stays more skiers' right and cuts under the seracs of the Tewaewae.

Difficulty

Severe

Steep skiing at 38-45 degrees. This requires very good technique and the risk of falling has serious consequences.

Medium Exposure (E2)

2 out of 4

As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

August, September, October

Features

  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Cliffs
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area