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Mount Dark

A wild climb near Mount Cook National Park

Ski Touring Difficult

12 km
1.7 km
1.7 km
7-8 hrs
Low Point
627 m
High Point
2.4 km
Mount Dark Map

If you are looking for a ski tour near Mount Cook National Parks but want an area all to yourself than Mount Dark clicks all the boxes. Being just east of the main popular area this offers a steep and semi technical ski tour but without the fear of huge glaciers. It should be said that this is not a tour for beginners as needs a healthy snow pack to be possible. We made this a two day trip as it is a challenge just getting to the base of the mountain and a day trip would have made an already semi painful trip that much worse. For both the climbing and the descending this is a no fall type of ski tour so bring your crampons and ice axes with a solid knowledge of how to use them.


Driving North on your way up Lake Pukaki you will soon pass the lake itself and the homestead known as Glenntanner before crossing the bridge of Bush Stream where you need to park. Making sure to start your ski tour on the southern side as you need to head up this stream. When I say head up the stream I mean that literally as there are no trails and you will have to get your feet wet. The next 5 or so kilometres you will be in and out of the water but before long the valley will branch off to the south via Back Stream where you need to head up arriving at the base of Mount Dark and setting up camp on one of the few flat spots.

Start out early in the morning as this can be a long trip and you need to make the most out of daylight. Start heading up the valley with a focus on both your descent line and the ascent as they are two different routes. For climbing you need to focus on the lookers left side of the basin where you can find a drainage/couloir that is steep but gives you access to the northeast ridge of Mount Dark where you can ascent the relatively easy upper slopes all the way to the summit.

Once on top of Mount Dark focus your attention on the Northwestern slopes directly below the summit. With a bit of cautious scouting you will be standing on top of the face with an obvious route down to the valley below. The trick to this ski tour is waiting until the snow has corned up and is easily edgeable as a slip can be fatal. As for the ski descent it starts off on a relatively steep headwall before mellowing out in the valley below. Once all is said and done it is time to head back down Bush Stream to your car.

For more pictures and the full story check out this link https://www.whereiskylemiller.com/new-zealand/mount-dark/



Serious gradient of 30-38 degrees where a real risk of slipping exists.

High Exposure (E3)

3 out of 4

In case of a fall, death is highly likely.


3 out of 4

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

Best time to visit

between August and November


  • Alpine
  • Cliffs
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons

Guidebooks in this area