One of the most recognisable of New Zealand’s peak, Mitre Peak (1692m) rising out from Milford Sound is a classic summer scramble with jaw dropping exposure down to the sound below. Best enjoyed with a camp or a bivi on the shoulder to enjoy being alone in the fiord long after the cruise tourists have headed away.
Mitre Peak Approach
From Deepwater Basin either kayak out into the Fiord following the edge of the shore till Sinbad gully is reached. This should be done early in the morning as a considerable day-breeze picks up on the water by mid-afternoon when the water can become choppy and unforgiving. No water taxis are opperating at present so the only other options without kayaks is to helicopter to the bushline with Milford Helicopters.
From the beach at Sinbad Gully head up the broad ridge, clambering over any treefall until a faint trail through the bush is reached along with the crest of the ridge. Traverse over the Footstool (835m) and descend to a saddle, which may provides the only water in puddles, that may be dry following a long dry spell, and a couple of camp spots on route. There are some false trails through the bush but the correct trail follows the board ridge.
Climb up along the ridge to above the bush edge where there are camp spots for around 3 tents. There is no water so bring all you need. Sandfly zone so tents are advised.
It is 4-5 hours up from the waters edge.
Above the camp, a steep track heads up steeply through the tussock and scrub to a horiztonal ridge that narrows towards the top of the Notch after about an hour. From here, there is a 30m downclimb (ring bolt) to the bottom of the Notch. There is an alternative bivi on the big terrace with water south of and 30m down from The Notch. A 25m above the Notch leads to a ring bolt.
From the notch, the ridge climbs up steeply on good rock (ring bolt) and steep tussock slopes above. A slabby vegetated section is best climbed close to the left hand ridge. Another hour or so above the Notch is the Second Step which is preceeded by a short narrow section of horizontal ridge. The route initially climbs the north side, past the Window before traversing left around onto the south side and up past the ‘Sword of Damocles’, a large wedged block. This side gets little sun and can be damp, mossy and slippery even in dry weather.
Another hour or so brings you to the Summit Step. This is climbed initially on the left up a corner before traversing out right to easier ground and the ‘Duck Bill’ rock. From here it is an easy scramble to the table top summit of Mitre Peak and views of the entire length of Milford Sound.
A rope may be required on steeper or more exposed sections of the route.
30-40m of rope, two 120cm slings, small selection of BD cams up to size #1.
For guided ascents of Mitre Peak, other mountaineering objectives in the Darrans, four day ascents, or other classic peaks of New Zealand, visit wanakamountainguides.co.nz.