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Colin Todd Hut and the Iso Glacier

The approach out to Mount Aspiring

Ski Touring Difficult

55 km
3.7 km
3.7 km
1 day +
Low Point
369 m
High Point
2.3 km
Colin Todd Hut and the Iso Glacier Map

The Matukituki Valley is one of many amazing places in New Zealand which sees people throughout the year. While the high time is during the summer there is still an active climbing scene with the high point of the area being Mount Aspiring in which the National Park is names after. Being that you are starting in a valley there is a lot of vert that needs to be gained to get onto summits but in exchange you will be rewarded with stunning views of the Otago backcountry. This tour out to the Colin Todd Hut is the approach to Mount Aspiring. Yes I did attempt the summit but being alone and climbing technical and exposed terrain in snowboard boots I decided to turn back, that being said this is still a great tour and the Quarterdeck alone is worth visiting so below is the description to get there.


Driving past Wanaka and arriving at the Matukituki valley trailhead be prepared for a long approach. Fortunately there are three huts along the route so plan accordingly based off of weather and your intentions. Leaving the car the route is on more of a road than a trail as you walk on the southern edge of the river before arriving at the Matukituki hut which warrants checking out and grabbing some water before pushing further up the valley. Before long you will pass by a flat basin known as Shovel Flats and crossing a bridge which takes you to the Liverpool hut trail.

Being near the base of the Liverpool Hut trail you have two options to head towards French Ridge, first you can cross the river or second you can go up stream to a bridge before walking back towards the trail which will add 2 additional kilometres. What ever you decided soon you will be on the French Ridge Track which is less of a track than a clawing up but yes it is an open route gaining 900 meters until arriving at the French Ridge Hut.

Above the French Ridge hut is an area known as the Quarterdeck which is a relatively straighforeword climb. Heading up the ridge there is really no exposure and simple climbing until the last 300 vertical meters where it rolls over the cliffs and needs to be climbed with caution until arriving at Quarterdeck Pass. Standing on the high pass you have a stunning view of Mount Aspiring and the Bonar Glacier. The lower and flat section does have crevasses but is much easier to navigate than the steeper sections and can be skied down until switching over to skinning at climbing up to the Colin Todd Hut. As I mentioned above this is an active spot and the final resting place before climbing Mount Aspiring so expect not to be alone.

Other than Mount Aspiring you can head out for a relatively easy ski tour by heading over to the Iso Glacier and making your way around the crevasses until reaching the pass and walking up to point 2151. Now it is an easy descent back down to the base of the glacier before heading back to the Colin Todd Hut. As for climbing Mount Aspiring it can be both tricky and technical so bring rope and a partner and the openness of being willing to turn around if conditions do not warrant riding as the main descent has a no fall zone.

As for heading back down just follow the ascent route with a slight bit of extra caution on the Bonar Glacier and especially riding back down the Quarterdeck as you are exposed once again to a fatal fall if you loose your edge and fall East into the Gloomy Gorge.

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



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.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between August and November


  • Bowl
  • Alpine
  • Ski Safari
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Skins
  • Crampons

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area