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Zig Zag Route, Malte Brun

Mount Cook

A very technical and spectacular line on a major peak

Ski Touring Extreme

6.3 km
74 m
2 km
1-2 hrs
Low Point
1.2 km
High Point
3.1 km
Zig Zag Route, Malte Brun Map

Malte Brun is one of the Southern Alp’s most significant peaks and there is a small range named after it. Steep on all sides, Malte Brun is well known amongst New Zealand mountaineers for its climbing routes. The Zig Zag route is the easiest climbing route on its 600m south face, and snakes between steeper sections of rock. It is mostly a steep snow climb with the odd short step of ice or easy mixed and is a New Zealand grade 4- alpine climb


In October 2017, Ben Briggs, Enrico Mosetti and Tom Grant made the first ski descent of Malte Brun via the Zig Zag route just after their successful descent of the Caroline Face on Aoraki/Mt. Cook. Like many ski mountaineering routes in New Zealand, the team found that the crux of skiing the Zig Zag on Malte Brun was getting to and from the start of the line.

The approach up the moraine from the Tasmin Glacier and following the Beatham stream and glacier, is long, arduous and dangerous. The Department of Conservation who regulate heli access are currently considering allowing heli drops in the Malte Brun Range for mountaineering and ski mountaineering.

In order to ski the Zig Zag, it is necessary to allow for a three-day round trip. The white ice of the Tasmin Glacier can be accessed by hiking in or by a heli drop. Start by finding the least treacherous route up the large moraine wall to the right of the Beatham Stream. Follow exposed but easy scrambling to the right side of the stream until you can cross it via a three wire bridge. Continue up alongside the Beatham stream and onto the Beatham Glacier. The upper reaches of the Beatham Glacier are flat and safe to camp on and give access to both Malte Brun and the neighboring Aiguille Rouges. The same route is reversed in descent.

Following a period of good snow build up, the Zig Zag should be able to be skied with only one rappel in the middle section where there is a small 60-70 degree ice step. Just above this ice step there is also an exposed and rocky section that might require some delicate dry skiing. The rest of the line provides good open skiing on slopes of 45-50 degrees.



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.


4 out of 4

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

Best time to visit

between October and November


  • Bowl
  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Cliffs
  • Couloir
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

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

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area