Mt. Darwin South Face Direct

Mount Cook

One for connoisseurs of steep ice faces

Ski Touring Extreme

Distance
1.6 km
Ascent
250 m
Descent
764 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
2.1 km
High Point
2.8 km
Gradient
49˚
Mt. Darwin South Face Direct  Map

Mt. Darwin is a ski mountaineer’s dream with high quality steep lines on both the north and south aspects. Perhaps its most impressive ski line is the South Face Direct, which provides close to 800 meters vertical of exposed skiing down the large glacial face to lookers’ left of the summit. It could be considered one of the most beautiful and sustained ski lines on an ice face in the range. This is a steeper and more complex line than the other south face line to looker’s right of the summit and should only be attempted by very strong and experienced teams.

Description

The initial approach follows the same route as described under Mt. Darwin South Face. Due to serac exposure climbing the exact ski line is not recommended. It is more logical to make a loop by heading up to the start of the other south face line and then traversing climber’s left and continuing up the steep upper face, eventually topping out on a col to climbers’ left side of the summit.

The top of the face is very steep (50-55 degrees) and may not always hold snow. The upper 300 meters is the steepest section of the line. The line trends skiers’ right, traversing under some seracs before continuing down the fall line following beautiful spines and onto a small hanging face above some rocks. In good conditions it is possible to ski through the small rock step without needing to rappel. From here it is a straightforward exit back onto the Darwin Glacier. This descent was first skied by Ross Hewitt and Tom Grant in October 2015 and is likely awaiting a repeat descent.

Difficulty

Extreme

Extreme skiing terrain above 45 degrees. These routes are reserved for experienced experts.

Extreme Exposure (E4)

4 out of 4

In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

September, October, November

Features

  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Cliffs
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

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

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area