Independent Mountain Guides

Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand

Mt Earnslaw Guided Mountaineering Trip

Guided Mountaineering trips for climbing Mount Earnslaw>

At 2819 metres Mt Earnslaw (Pikirakatahi) has varierty of routes available for a moderate to technical challenge and provide and excellent platform to commence your alpine apprenticeship.

Mount Earnslaw peaks tower over the Rees and Dart Valleys. The peak(s) west and east, dominate over the northern arm of Lake Wakatipu and the small hamlet of Glenorchy (315 metres) is the last frontier before the lush river valley leads the way to the eastern slopes and the access to climb Mt. Earnslaw.

Although the easiest route is not technically demanding, Mt. Earnslaw will physically challenge any mountaineer with a variety of routes on Earnslaw await the climber who wants a technical challenge.

4 to 5 days have been allocated for the Mt. Earnslaw ascent and an average time table runs like this.

Day 1 11am Meet your guide at Small Planet Outdoor Equipment, Queenstown, NZ, and complete registration, briefing, equipment and clothing checks. Your guide will drive you to Glenorchy (50mins) and then to the Rees Valley carpark Muddy Creek, (35 mins). Hike the Rees Valley to Lennox Falls 3.5 hours. (Alternatively transfer to 4WD vehical at Glenorchy for a fantastic 4 wheel drive trip thru the Rees River valley and braids.

The cross country drive ends at the bottom of the access spur to Earnslaw near Lennox Falls (500 metres). This leads to the first hut (Earnslaw Hut 960 metres) and then the bivy rocks at (1100 metres approx), a one and a half hour steep hike through beech forest. Spend your first night either at the hut or under the historic bivy rocks.Sometimes we may tent camp a little higher. A nice comfortable day of entering the back country before the rigors ahead.

Day 2 8am From here you are above the tree line and entering the alpine zone. There is another bivvy rock (Crows Nest) at 1500 metres which is sometimes used to stay in on slower trips or in inclement weather.( 2-3 hours from the lower Earnslaw Hut).

After 2 hours hiking from Crows Nest and at roughly 2000 metres the Birley Glacier is encountered and it is time to rope up, get your ice axe out and put your crampons on. Instruction in cramponing, ice axe use and glacier travel is given here.

Three to four hours will take you to Wright Col at 2264 metres.It takes about 20 mins to cross the col to Esquilant Biv Hut at the same elevation. Phew! A long day out, but now you are in the big mountains and the views are insatiable.(Time from bivy rock camp to Esquilant Biv is about 6-8 hours hiking).

Day 3 After a leisurely breakfast it is time to upskill your rope work/ snow anchors and attempt Leary Peak (2570 metres). This peak will give an excellent introduction to snow and ice techniques. These skills will prove invaluable for tomorrows climb.

Day 4 This is the day for your attempt of Mount Earnslaw. The peak can look very intimidating from the little bivvy hut. It's roping up time and retracing your steps from the first day back to Wright Col. We then climb a gradually steepening apron of snow, ice or steep scree to the entrance gully/chimney. Once this tricky 50 metre section is negotiated the terrain lays back a little and finally the summit is not far away.

An amazing vista of peaks, passes, river valleys, are revealed from the top.Due to Maori folk lore and custom we do not actually tread the tippy top. (It is said you are standing on the head of a prominent Maori Chief with your crampons on, so we stand carefully to the side.)

Descending Earnslaw is a mixture of careful down climbing, an abseil, and more down climbing back to the col. It's not too long before you're basking in the sun at the biv with a cuppa tea and reflecting in your adventure.

Day 5 Is walk out day, back through Wright Col and the Birley Glacier. The rope is taken off there and stowed in the pack for the ambling hike down the tussock spur to the valley floor . Here your 4 wheel drive vehical awaits to take us back to Glenorchy or we hike the remaining 3 hours to the carpark near Muddy Creek. We hit Queenstown by 5pm for celebrations and showers!

What we Provide

  • Ground transport to the base of mtn (dependant on height of river)
  • mountaineering equipment including climbing harness, helmet, ropes
  • hut fees
  • mountain food
  • stoves/fuel
  • Doc Fees
  • climbing footwear on request ($20 / day)
  • photographic essay of your trip on request (NZ$95 for the CD/person)
  • hire a sherpa to carry your weighty gear on request ( NZ$350/day/sherpa)
  • if you need extra alpine clothing please ask.

What to Bring?

  • You will be required to carry a pack approx.18-20kg. in weight
  • your own alpine boots if you have them
  • Excellent physical walking condition
  • your camera.

Access Notes

  • It is possible to get a 4 wheel drive vehicle to the base of the Earnslaw climb. This really reduces the hiking time in and out. The river flow and depth at the time will decide whether this is possible or not.
  • It is possible to fly in and out of 3 possible landing sites, depending on weather and cloud. Please request for this option and costs.
  • Bad weather could hamper your ascent. We do have contingency plans if this happens

Your guide is well qualified to to deal with the responsibility of climbing Mount Earnslaw. All guides are members of the NZMGA or NZOIA and know Mount Earnslaw climb well.

Trip Costs

  • one person guided trip NZ$2,950
  • two person guided trip NZ$2,500 per person

Prices are in $ NZD

Booking Conditions

  • Bookings are essential and will only be accepted with a $500 deposit to confirm your trip and dates
  • Book early to avoid disappointment for this fabulous climbing adventure!

Make a booking or phone 0274 140 544 to confirm a booking

Website design and SEO by BoomBox