Mt. Darwin South Face

Mount Cook

An awesome ski face above the secluded Darwin Glacier

Ski Touring Severe

Distance
9.3 km
Ascent
1.1 km
Descent
1.1 km
Duration
5-6 hrs
Low Point
1.7 km
High Point
2.8 km
Gradient
52˚
Mt. Darwin South Face  Map

The Darwin Glacier is a fantastic arena for ski mountaineering with a multitude of great possibilities. Mt. Darwin, Mt. Annan and Mt. Hamilton all offer incredible ski potential. However, the south face of Mt. Darwin perhaps gives the best clean skiable face in the basin. 40-45 degrees, 600 meters vertical, clean, open and often holding good snow due to its shady aspect. The line actually starts from a col just to the east of the summit of Mt. Darwin (which is not skiable). The top of line touches 50 degrees but the angle quickly lessens. It is however a large glacial face so watch out for ice just beneath the snow.

Description

The line is easily approached from either the Tasmin Saddle or Kelman Huts (however it is a big day so leave early). After skinning up the Darwin Glacier, negotiate the best way through an initial small ice-fall at the base of the route. Once above this, it is straightforward to boot up the face and reach the beautifully situated col between Mt. Darwin and Mt. Annan. Ski back down the same way and out onto the Darwin Glacier. Although the South Face of Mt. Darwin is a very obvious ski line, there was no record of it having been skied prior to 2015 when it was skied by Billy Haas, Adam Fabrikant, Noah Howell and Tom Grant. Such is the nature of New Zealand’s Southern Alps; a lot of world class ski terrain, no lifts and not that many skiers venturing out beyond the very well-known lines.

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

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
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

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

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area