Red Arete

Page Type
Otago, New Zealand, Oceana
Route Type:
Sport Climbing
Spring, Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Half a day
14 (french 4c, UIAA V)
Rock Difficulty:
5.6 (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Page By:
Red Arete
Created On: Jan 25, 2009
Last Edited On: Jan 24, 2012


This route was climbed for the first time by Tom Fyffe in 1894 as a preparation for the first ascent of Mt.Cook. Before being bolted, the lower part of this route was climbed unroped because of the lack of possibilities to place protection. After being bolted this quickly became a very popular climb.

The rock climbing grades used are of the Ewbank system.

Getting There

Take road 80 to Mt.Cook village. Just past the NZAC Unwin hut, park beside the road. The Sebastopol Bluffs are to your southwest (a 30 minute walk).

The route is located on the Red Slabs. There's scree with bushes on the right of them. Walk to this scree and follow a track that zigzags up the slope. After a while it veers right and traverses through the trees to the ledge at the bottom of the Red Slabs.

Route Description

This can be done in 2 to 5 pitches, depending on your mood, tolerance for rope drag, etc. We did it in 4 pitches.

1st pitch (11): the route start from the ledge underneath (double bolt anchor) and leads over easy ground to a sloping stance.

2nd pitch (12): climb to the right onto a substantial ledge. The ledge, which is vegetated, leads left and up and is known as "sesame street".

3rd pitch (14): follow the arete and climb a small overhang (crux) to a small stance.

4th & 5th pitch (13/14): follow the arete. Pass the first ledge and climb to a second ledge (I didn't use the stance on the first ledge).

From here, you can abseil down in 2-4 pitches depending on the length of your rope.

Optional: a 6th pitch following the arete past a bulge to a third ledge. There's no bolts on this pitch and barely possibilities for protection. From this third ledge, it's possible to abseil into the scree and take the track down.

Essential Gear

Some quickdraws.

It's difficult to place your own protection, but this is not really necessarry (there's plenty bolts) unless you plan on climbing that 6th pitch (which is not bolted).

A single 60m rope will bring you down, but it will take les time if you bring a longer rope or a double/twin rope.