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Rolleston, Armstorng and Phillestine

Three summits within a single ski tour on Arthurs Pass

Ski Touring Difficult

20 km
2.8 km
2.8 km
1 day +
Low Point
898 m
High Point
2.2 km
Rolleston, Armstorng and Phillestine Map

Im not going to lie this trip is incredibly enticing if you have spent anytime within the Arthurs Pass area. How could one not be interested in riding off the true summit of Mount Rolleston let alone link it with some other great mountains in the area. Even looking at the maps this trip seems relatively straightforeword but it needs to be stated that this is a very challenging trip that should only be done if you are incredibly experienced with steep and semi technical climbing and okay with exposure. It is not getting to the summits that is the hard part but more the approach and in a lesser sense the exit. When this route was thought up we though starting out a bit before daylight we would end just before sunset but we were wrong and were back at the car around Midnight. Long story short if you are just getting into ski touring this is definitely not a good ski tour to attempt and if you freak out in exposed areas once again this is not the ski tour for you.


Starting off in the Otira Valley make your way up the well established track until arriving at the lower cirque of Mount Rolleston. You will noticed a steep face that arrives at the low col on the Northern Ridge of Mount Rolleston which you need to climb. This section is steep from bottom to top and after a hundred meters of climbing you need to traverse a bit south which leaves a cliff band below you were falling is not an option. After an hour or two of front pointing on your crampons and the use of two ice axes you will arrive in the upper basin happy to be done with that crux. Now it is time for the easier part of the ski tour.

Dropping off the col and heading west ride down to around 1600 meters before switching over to skinning and heading north. After a bit of ups and downs make your way over to the northeast slopes of Mount Armstrong where there is a semi steep but relatively easy face that gets you up to the summit. From here you have a great view of Mount Rolleston before you descend down the face you had just climbed and ride back to the spot where you transitioned to skinning.

Being just below Mount Rolleston make your way east at first to follow the main valley before it bends off to the north. Keep climbing the obvious route which before long turns into a chute which you can climb all the way up to the summit. Standing on top now drop back down your ascent route riding to around 1700 meters before heading east to get onto the ridge of Point 2000 with Mount Philistine in the distance.

We expected the ridge exit to be easy which it relatively was but it was also incredibly time consuming with the ups and downs where we finally reached the summit of Mount Philistine well after dark. Once on top we dropped into the eastern slopes and soon enough arrived on a climbers track which made its way into the valley via a small and semi hard to spot ridge. Getting back into the valley we were able to cross the Otira Valley Track Bridge and walk back down to the trailhead happy that the trip went as smoothly as it did.

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



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.


3 out of 4

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

Best time to visit

between August and November


  • Bowl
  • Alpine
  • Cliffs
  • Ski Safari
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area