Get to the summit of Nelion.
As of a few years ago there is a bolted abseil descent from the summit of Nelion, which provides the fastest and safest way off the mountain. This descent route runs close to the normal ascent route of Nelion and several, but not all, of the abseil bolts are seen on the way up. This descent route is also used by many parties summitting Batian, in which case the Gates of Mist are crossed to Nelion followed by a possible bivi in the Howell Hut.
The first bolt on this descent route is found by following the painted green markings from the south-east side of the Nelion summit close to the Howell Hut. These painted green arrows and markings show the way on several tricky sections along the abseil route.
In total the descent consists of 14 abseils - each of which is less than 25m long - and 3 short scrambles. Abseiling on a single rope is recommended since several abseil pitches are notorious for the ropes getting stuck and on others it is necessary to traverse significantly to the side to reach the next bolt.
There are a few key sections on the abseil route where it is important not to lose one's way.
|Ab #1: ||Cross the chossy ascent gully at the top of the Nelion Standard Route to a platform on the left. (+/- 20m). |
|Scramble: ||Follow the arrow diagonally down to the left to the top of a vertical red face. This steep face is seen about 50m above the De Graafs Variation pitch on the way up. The abseil bolt can only be seen when looking over the edge. |
|Ab #2 to #6: ||Five single rope abseils tending slightly rightwards and past the De Graaf's Variation to the loose, blocky rock at the base of Mackinder's Gendarme (below the SE ridge). |
|Scramble: ||Back up to the SE ridge at Baillie's Bivi. |
|Ab #7: ||The bolt is found on a block on the SE ridge 10m to the left of Baillies bivi. A 20m abseil straight down reaches a painted green marker on the East Traverse. |
|Scramble: ||40 to 50m to the left and down the East Traverse. The next bolt is hidden in a slight recess and is difficult to see from this direction. Follow and trust the direction of the green arrow, or memorise the location of the bolt from the ascent. |
|Ab #8: ||Straight down to a big ledge (20m). |
|Ab #9: ||Dogleg abseil from the left hand side of the ledge. Go down and left along a ramp for 10m (the painted marking is misleading here at "20m"). |
|Ab #10: ||Straight down +/- 20m. |
|Ab #11: ||Straight down a steep face, followed by a free-hanging abseil over a roof. The abseil ends on an uncomfortably angled slab in an alcove underneath the roof at close to 25m. |
|Ab #12 to #14:||Three more single rope abseils tending leftwards and ending back on the ground about 30m to the right of the Nelion Stardard Route start. |
Directions (left and right) are described as seen when looking in to the mountain face.
Allow between two and four hours for the descent, depending on your speed.
At the very minimum the following gear is required for the abseil descent of Nelion: One 50m rope. Abseil device + biner. Harness