Wanaka Mountain Guides

Darrans Alpine Rock Climbing

Darrans alpine rock is New Zealand’s mecca of multipitch and mountain rock climbing. A short drive from Milford Sound in the World Heritage Te Wāhipounamu and Fiordland National Park, the compact and rough granite of the Darransprovides an excellent climbing medium and a range of intermediate to advanced grades. Some routes involve exposed technical approaches or a multi-day tactics and bivying.

Darrans Alpine Rock Objectives

Wanaka Mountain Guides [] Alpine Rock Climbing Darrans

North and North East Face of Barrier Knob

The popular Gertrude Saddle is just the first stop on the trip to Barrier Knob. The summit provides views down to Milford Sound and Lake Adelaide and the massive rock walls of Marian Peak and Sabre Peak. There are a number of bivi spots for the complete Darrans experience. The sunny North and North East faces provides a host of classic routes at a range of grades: ‘Labyrinth’ (22), ‘Daisy’ (20), ‘Forgotten Silver’ (18)

Wanaka Mountain Guides [] Alpine Rock Climbing Darrans

Sabre Peak

Accessed from Phill’s Biv in the Upper Adelaide Cirque, the North Buttress of Sabre (18) is classic Darrans alpine rock. Just to get here, parties have to travel up and over Barrier Knonb and descend Giffords Crack.

Wanaka Mountain Guides [] Alpine Rock Climbing Darrans

Moirs Mate

Moirs Mate is the area’s premier alpine rock climbing destination with the west face having a high concentration of classic and modern rock climbs. The traverse from Homer Saddle and the North Ridge provides excellent, exposed scrambling on rough granite. Classic traditional climbs such as ‘Bowen Allen Corner’ (18) to modern mixed classics of ‘Lucky Strike’ (20), ‘Pipe Dreams’ (21), and ‘Finders Keepers’ (21).

Wanaka Mountain Guides [] Alpine Rock Climbing Darrans

Shotwell Slabs, Holyford Valley

For a short fix or a warm-up on the way to or from the bigger objectives, the roadside Shotwell Slabs provides a range of multi-pitch climbs and grades to get you trusting that rubber and friction (16 – 22).

Wanaka Mountain Guides [] Alpine Rock Climbing Darrans

South Face of the Sentinel

The Sentinel above Adelaide Saddle provides the region’s best lower-grade alpine rock climbing. The area is accessed by a transalpine journey up and over Barrier Knob and a night can be spent at Gill’s Bivi rock by descending Gifford’s Crack to Lake South America and the upper Adelaide Cirque.

Wanaka Mountain Guides [] Alpine Rock Climbing Darrans

Cleddau Valley Cragging

Beyond the Homer Tunnel as the winding road descends to Milford Sound are some of NZ’s best sport climbing crags of The Chasm, Babylon, and Little Babylon (18 – 35+). Steep walls and grooves mean that many routes stay dry in the rain, which is useful in Fiordland.

Fitness and Difficulty Requirements

Wanaka Mountain Guides [] Darrans Alpine Rock
Wanaka Mountain Guides

Participants should have some previous rock climbing experience. Climbing grades start from Aus/NZ 16. For the more difficult routes, climbers need to be comfortably seconding 17 to 19.

Wanaka Mountain Guides

Participants should have experience roping, and with knots such as Figure-8, Clove Hitch, and Italian Hitch.

Details and Pricing

Duration: 4+ days(s)
Dates: January to March

Get in touch for private trips.
2023/24 Price:
From $2650 per person

Includes: GST, guide fees, compliance costs, transport from Wānaka, mountain food, and accommodation, technical equipment.
Maximum ratio: 1:2

See also

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘I feel safe at all times with him, yet he doesn’t stifle me and gives me the freedom to go on my own when I feel comfortable doing so. He makes me feel relaxed and at ease both on and off the mountain. His local knowledge is incredible and seems to be able to pluck a great adventure out of the hat somewhere no matter what the weather is doing at the time. He’s the best guide I’ve had by far!’

Marcus, Aoraki / Mount Cook Ascent

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘Thank you again. That was an awesome day out and I really appreciated how generous [our guide] was with his time and knowledge. He crammed in more than I thought possible in a day.’

Megan, Remarkables Alpine Rock Climbing Course

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘It was 4 days I’ll never forget! The experiences I had I only want to grow on. I set out to accomplish a task, but I got so much more! You showed me a whole new world with your sport and I can’t thank you enough! I’ve found a new love for this sport and it’s thanks to him! Absolutely exceeded my expectations!!! Thanks Wānaka Mountain Guides!

Landen, Mitre Peak Ascent

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