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Mt Aspiring South West Ridge

An amazing hut to hut adventure

Also in Otago, New Zealand

Alpine Climbing Difficult

10 km
1.7 km
1.4 km
Low Point
1.5 km
High Point
2.9 km
Mt Aspiring South West Ridge Map

One of the best outings of the Southern Alps taking in the two classic ridges of Mt Aspiring - this route provides a big day out for an experienced team. An early start is required from the French Ridge hut and many teams often bivouac on the Bonar Glacier to save the early morning ascent to the glacier. Getting a view of the approach and route from the Quaterdeck is advisable the previous day and an ascent of Mt French is an excellent training day.


Follow the ridge above the French Ridge Hut on a reasonable track to access Quarterdeck Pass (2,290m) to the side of Mt French and your first views of the mountain (or not at 2am!). Traverse the Bonar Glacier to the right hand side of the South West Ridge and begin ascending where the snow slopes allow. Teams coming from the Colin Todd Hut can access the ridge by its Western Flank beneath the rock band taking a diagonal rising traverse from the hut.

The ridge steepens up almost continuously moving from single axe terrain to two axes until, about 200 metres below the summit, a steep snow/ice couloir is reached which can sometimes be quite rocky. Depending on conditions, two to four pitches up to 80 degrees lead to the ice cap and thereafter the summit.

Descend the North West Ridge to where the angle eases after nearly 1km. The fastest descent is to follow the Ramp route down if the snow slope is complete, otherwise descend Kangaroo Step on the ridge, descending the steepest section on the West side of the ridge and head down the snow slopes to traverse to the Colin Todd hut.



The beginning of truly technical terrain which might involve pitched climbing on rock and/or ice, exposed terrain and complex route finding in ascent and descent. Equivalent to AD, AD+

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Much of the route is difficult to protect and a fall could be disastrous at certain points.


3 out of 4

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

Best time to visit

between November and January

Equipment required

  • Crampons
  • Quickdraws
  • Glacier kit
  • 2 Ice Axes
  • Wires and Friends

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area