6. ARTHUR'S PASS
CLIMBS FROM ARTHUR’S PASS
The mountains near Arthur's Pass and Otira offer climbing within reach of Highway 73, with graded routes suitable for climbers of all levels of experience.
MT ROLLESTON (2275m) is the dominant peak of the area and is climbed by several routes.
6.1 The classic Rome Ridge route leads to the Low Peak and can be approached from the upper Bealey Valley by way of an ugly scree adjacent the Bealey bluffs, or more readily by the Coral Track 300m north of the McGrath Stream bridge.
Above the tree-line the ridge is easily climbed, though two prominent buttresses can be of some concern in soft or loose snow conditions. There is a prominent “gap” in the ridge below the Low Peak, this requiring a short exposed pitch (50m) on either side of the ridge. The last buttress on the ridge before the gap can be avoided by sidling on the East Crow Glacier (this bypass is cut by a bergschrund in mid-summer). The gap may also be approached via the AVALANCHE PEAK joining ridge. The first few pitches of the main ridge beyond the gap are steep and loose, with some exposure towards the Goldney Glacier. Once the Low Peak (2212m) is gained, access to the High Peak (2275m) is by continuing along the ridge on easier ground, via the Middle Peak. Middle Peak can be avoided by utilising the Crow névé if it is negotiable. Descent should be made via the Otira Slide (route 6.3). (Grade. 2-)
6.2 The Goldney Ridge route to MT ROLLESTON (2275m) begins at the top of Arthur's Pass (920m). Enter the Dobson Nature Walk opposite the memorial, taking the right-hand branch towards the Otira Valley. Where the track nears the scree chutes, bash through the scrub and follow the chutes through the bluffs to the wide open ridge above.
The ridge suddenly narrows prior the first massive buttress. Sidle for about 150 metres onto the Bealey River flank then ascend the steep scree to regain the ridge. Easy travel takes you to the summit of the second buttress. The third can be reached or bypassed on the Otira Valley side, and can involve some steep rock pitches (beware of large cornices in winter). A craggy ridge leads to the head of the Otira Slide icefield. See (route 6.3) for a description beyond here. The Goldney Ridge route is seldom climbed in its entirety as climbers prefer the less time consuming Otira Slide route. (Grade. 1+)
6.3 The Otira Slide route to MT ROLLESTON (2275m) is the climbers preferred ascent route to join the Goldney Ridge, and is certainly the most used and quickest descent route.
From the Otira Valley car-park follow the walking trail towards the head of the valley. After the foot-bridge the trail is less defined, and the entire area is avalanche prone in winter. It takes about 1˝ hours to reach the base of the Otira Slide icefield. (It is