The Brewster Glacier is perhaps the easiest glacier to access in the country with a steep and direct approach through beech forest from the Haast highway and the close comforts of Brewster Hut. Mount Brewster (2515m) provides an alpine ascent that can be accomplished in a few days without the use of helicopters and is great progression before attempting more challenging ascents.
Mount Brewster Approach
The traverse track to the glacier starts from 1700m, a short distance above the Brewster Hut. It crosses the steep northern flank of Mount Armstrong and the route is bluffy and exposed to overhead avalanche hazard, especially in winter and spring when the sunny slopes above warm up quickly.
Later in the summer, once the snows have retreated, the track requires a sharp eye to follow. Scoping in the light is recommended if planning an early start.
Early season conditions allow a quick approach via the snow slopes on the west side of the ridge that connect with Mount Armstrong. After the winter snow melts away it may be quicker descending to the terminal lakes where a straightforward hop onto the snout of the glacier provides quick travel.
The lakes below the snout of the glacier provide a stunning place to camp, away from the busyness of the hut and a great advanced position from where to climb the peak.
Early season the south west face provides a direct climb to the summit. Another option is the south east face that can be accessed by an easy traverse over the ridge to the small glacier in the headwaters of the Makaroa river. A large bergshrund will cut this route off as the summer progresses.
In late season conditions a traverse of the exposed rocky west ridge accessed from snow slopes near Top Heavy provides the best line of ascent.
For guided ascents of Mount Brewster, other mountaineering objectives in the Aspiring National Park, four day ascents, or other classic peaks of New Zealand, visit wanakamountainguides.co.nz.