Towering up above Lake Pukaki in the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, Aoraki/Mount Cook is an incredible scenic mountaineering destination. Starting from the low lying bushes and trees of the shore of the lake, climbers will traverse various alpine terrains, moraines and glaciers en route to the snow-capped summit. Panoramic views from the top are a just reward for any climber’s efforts.
Best time to visit:
November to February
New Zealand dollar (NZD)
How to get there:
Any expedition to Aoraki/Mount Cook will likely begin with a flight into Christchurch International Airport (CHC). From here to the trailhead it is a 3.75 hour drive or an 8 hour bus ride
What’s the weather like?
During the climbing season, average daily temperatures at the base of Aoraki/Mount Cook range from 10 ºC to 15 ºC (50 ºC to 60 ºF). Rain is quite common throughout the climbing season. February is the driest month
Most mountaineering expeditions to the summit of Aoraki/Mount Cook take about one week and head up the Linda Glacier route, though there are three others as well. Base Camp on the Linda Glacier is generally set up on Tasman Glacier at 2,400 meters. From here, climbers will ascend the Haast Ridge, which takes about 10 to 12 hours and stay at the Plateau Hut. On summit day, climbers will traverse the many crevasses on the Linda Glacier and wind their way up to the top. This takes about 15 to 20 hours and requires climbing a 50º icefall. After enjoying the views from the top, climbers return to the Plateau Hut and descend the following day. Overall, Aoraki/Mount Cook is rated as an upper-intermediate climb. The climb involves traversing large crevasses on the various glaciers and there is an ever-present danger of ice and rock falls. Volatile weather can also rapidly change climbing conditions and due to the unpredictability of this, it is recommended that climbers have an extra day or so in case they are delayed by the weather
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