Blue sky summits Mt Aspiring Blue sky summits Mt Aspiring

Mt Aspiring

Climb Ascents
mountain background mountain background
5 days
Climb Rating

Aspiring Guides has more experience climbing Mount Aspiring than any other mountain guide company in the world.

Whichever route you do, this is a beautiful mountain and is a highlight of many people's climbing trip in New Zealand. Mount Aspiring is a classic horned peak, often called the "Matterhorn of the South." Its beauty and technical climbing make it one of New Zealand's premier mountain peaks. Climbing Mount Aspiring is a significant undertaking and not to be underestimated. It is, however, achievable without much prior mountaineering experience with suitable physical preparation. For those with minimal mountaineering experience, we recommend a Sharpen Up - Mt Aspiring Training Weekend prior to a guided ascent. In the interest of safety and quality, we only guide Mount Aspiring as an ascent with one client and one mountain guide unless as part of a longer mountaineering instruction course. After the climb, the walk from Colin Todd Hut out to the road end is a very big, technical descent (1400m) that many people find as challenging as the climb itself.

book now Skills required
mountain background mountain background

This was a life-changing experience! Having been with Aspiring Guides for 3 other adventures, I was very confident you would be the best company to lead us on our most challenging project to date. Apart from climbing Aspiring, I knew we would be well...read more

Graham, New Zealand, Mt Aspiring

Day One

Heli into Bevan Col

Meet at our office, where you will meet your guide and complete a gear check. After a short drive to the staging area, we load into our helicopter. It is a stunning flight into Bevan Col where you begin the business end of the trip. Your guide will give you the required instruction on glacier travel and ice axe and crampon use. A one hour walk across the Bonar Glacier gets you to Colin Todd Hut, which will be the base for your ascent. This amazing hut is perched high on the side of the mountain at 1800m and is owned by the New Zealand Alpine Club. Under agreement with the Alpine Club, Aspiring Guides is allowed to keep equipment at the hut which minimizes the gear you are required to carry. The hut can be busy and in nice weather we often choose to bivi or tent outside.

Day Two

Mt Aspiring in the background

Often clients benefit from an acclimatisation day to get used to their surroundings and to explore the area. There are several smaller summits nearby that can be climbed to give the guide time to familiarise you with the equipment and techniques required. This day also gives you some time up your sleeve should the weather not cooperate.

Day Three

Near the summit Mt Aspiring

Summit day usually starts at around 4 am. After a good breakfast and a strong cup of your second favourite beverage, the climbing begins. Guides usually time it so you arrive at the more technical climbing around daybreak. The nerves begin to settle down as you watch the shadow of Mount Aspiring dominate the horizon and stretch out towards the Tasman Sea. The most technical climbing is usually spent gaining the upper ridge of the mountain either by the "ramp " or the NW Ridge. It is a thrilling climb as you begin to rise above the many peaks in the area. The summit ridge takes about 2 hours but it can seem an eternity as your fitness is put to the test. The summit of Mt Aspiring is one of the more aesthetically pleasing peaks you will ever climb. It rises to a sharp point from where you can get a staggering view of the South Island mountains. The descent is a mixture of walking, down climbing and abseiling. It is slow work for tired legs but there is an uplifting sense of achievement as you realize that you just might pull off this great accomplishment.

Day Four

Colin Todd Hut

It is a slow start for tired bodies but after a massive breakfast the journey continues. There are two options for getting to the valley floor. Either way, it is 1400m of descent to get down, if your thighs don't feel it yet, they will. The faster/bad weather option is to cross the Bonar Glacier to Bevan Col and descend this improbable rocky gash of a route to the valley floor. It is a pretty wild ride finding your way down steep rock slab, an abseil and some amazingly over-steepened boulder fields. Nine hours gets you to Aspiring Hut. It is only a few hours from there to the trail end but most people decide they have had enough long before they get to the hut ... the sight of a soft bunk is too tempting to pass up.

The other option is to make your way from Colin Todd up the Bonar to the summit ridge of Mt French then descend to French Ridge hut. This can be smooth travel in early summer, but as the season wears on, the route gets more and more broken. The route will take you through vast crevasse fields and roped descents through towering blocks of ice. A very nice route, but since it rises from Colin Todd, it can be a daunting route-finding mission in bad weather.

Day Five

Kea, the NZ alpine parrot

The final walk out to the trail end and the waiting vehicle can seem like a dream since over your shoulder you can catch glimpses of the summit of Aspiring. It can seem beyond belief that you were so recently there. The car and your trip to the nearest shower is 5 hrs from French Ridge Hut or 2 hours from Aspiring Hut.

North West Ridge (2+) Season: All Year

North West Ridge is an ideal but challenging route for climbers who are fit but have little serious climbing experience. There are a variety of rock and snow approaches that may be used to attain the upper slopes of the mountain. This is the perfect climb for people who have done walk-up peaks such as Island Peak, Kilimanjaro or Mont Blanc and want to try something more technical.

South West Ridge (3+) Season : October - January

The South West Ridge offers sustained and exposed snow and ice climbing for the more technically adept. The majority of the route is 45-50 degrees with three pitches of 60 degree ice at the summit. Good cramponing skills are paramount. Expect to be thrilled by the exciting finish to this wonderful climb. Only clients with previous steep ice experience will be accepted for this route.

South Face (4+) Season : October - January

The South Face is a sustained 50-70 degree ice. We only accept previous clients for this route.
Mount Aspiring takes on average 12 - 16 hours return from Colin Todd Hut. The walk out from the mountain is a further two days through spectacular alpine scenery.

Good fitness, balance and coordination are required to climb Mt Aspiring by any route. The summit day can last between 12 - 14 hours and ascends 1200 vertical meters requiring good mental and physical endurance.

In early season, snow and ice routes will push ankle and calf strength to the limit. The day of the climb you will be carrying a light alpine pack 5-7 kg but for access and egress you will be required to carry a pack of 12-15 kg up and down steep hills. The walk out from Colin Todd Hut to the road end is a very big, semi-technical descent (1400m) that many people find as challenging as the climb itself. A good endurance training aim is to be able to climb 300 vertical meters in under an hour.

The altitude and exposure mean that for most trips you can expect at least some inclement weather: wind, snow, rain and intense sun.

book now

Mount Aspiring is a serious and challenging climb. Most people expecting a "walk-up ascent" similar to what they have done in other countries are surprised at the technical difficulties encountered on Aspiring.

While objective hazards such as rock and ice fall certainly exist, in general, Mt Aspiring is a safe mountain to climb making it a good option for people who are fit but relatively inexperienced. The guide can handle the technical difficulties leaving the client free to concentrate on the climbing.

In the early season (October to December), The Ramp is the normal ascent route and involves 10 pitches of snow or ice of 35-50 degrees to gain the summit ridge. The summit ridge is exposed walking.

Conditions vary annually but usually by New Year, The Ramp becomes cut off and for later season climbs, the Full NW Ridge is the normal ascent route and is viable through to early May. It is a primarily very exposed rock scrambling done in mountaineering boots with several pitches of snow or ice at the summit. For the most part the rock is exposed but easy scrambling but being comfortable climbing grade 14 (5.6 US, 4b HS British) will be beneficial for the trickier sections.

The South West Ridge is continuous snow and ice arête rising out of the Bonar Glacier directly to the summit. It culminates in 3-4 pitches of 50-60 degree ice. Descent is usually by the NW Ridge. The season varies a great deal since it largely depends on the condition of the ice in the upper couloir. It is not generally climbed after mid-January.

book now


Trip Date Available
26-30 Oct 1 place available
2-6 Nov FULL
16-20 Nov FULL
23-27 Nov Open
30 Nov - 4 Dec FULL
14-18 Dec Open
28 Dec - 1 Jan Open
Jan, Feb, March, April, 2021 Open


Client Ratio Price
1:1 (Nov- Dec) NZ$5,550
1:1 (Jan - April) NZ$5,350

What's included

  • free use of all technical climbing gear
    - see equipment section below for details
  • meals and energy snacks
  • alpine hut / tent accommodation
  • national park, landing & guide fees
  • 15% goods and services tax
  • 1-day weather contingency

What's not included

  • Helicopter flights

Frequently asked questions

You can defer your trip for one day and not waste any precious guiding time. You will start the next day with the full number of days allocated for the trip still available. Effectively your guide is holding themselves available for 1 extra day of guiding at no extra charge.

While one day may not be the cure for all bad weather situations, sometimes a one day delay at the start of your trip can make all the difference. If you want to take advantage of this bonus, make sure you allow for this extra day in your itinerary.

The bonus one day weather contingency applies to all Summer Ascent based trips, any Winter trips (whether ascent, course, ski tour) and also summer Treks: Rabbit Pass, Lake Nerine and Adelaide Cirque. The Weather Contingency does not apply to any Summer Climbing Courses. As you will appreciate - no matter what the weather there is always mountaineering skills you can learn indoors.

But please note:
The one day Weather Contingency applies only to the start date of your trip. This means your trip could start a day later if your guide recommends and you agree to choose this option. It is important to understand that once a trip begins no weather contingency days are included. There are no refunds for bad weather during the trip.

Under 'equipment' on each individual trip web page, we provide detailed information about the equipment required for the trip. Typically this includes a checklist which you can use to "tick off" your gear, a document giving more detailed explanations as well as some of our best "guide tips" and a video to visually explain some of the terminology.

For our climbing and skiing trips, we have 3 categories of equipment:-

Compulsory items - this is equipment you must have with you. You can either purchase or hire depending on the item.

Trip Dependent - these are items that may be needed but will depend on the venue for the trip and prevailing conditions. Most times this cannot be decided ahead of time. Our best advice is that if you already own the items listed in the trip dependent section & you can fit in your pack then bring them along. Things like your own rock shoes and snow goggles are good things to bring - but disposable eating utensils can easily be obtained in Wanaka.

Optional - these are items which you can choose to bring or leave behind. But we think you should at least bring your camera!! Your trip will to some of the most breathtaking locations on the planet!!

Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about the suitability of equipment to avoid purchasing or carrying unnecessary equipment.

Equipment Detail

We include all technical climbing equipment, crampons, ice-axe, helmet, harness etc; you only need to provide your personal equipment like your boots and clothing, pack and sleeping bag. However many of these items are available for rent from us.

Equipment Detail Checklist & order form
Summit Mt Avalanche
Most alpine climbs in NZ require a day or two for access, requiring a 3-4 days return trip. These walk-in and out expeditions provide a full NZ mountain experience. Approaches take...
4 days 2 2
Explore now
Mt Aspiring heading up
For some, New Zealand is a once in a lifetime experience, and since they have come all this way, they might as well make the most of it.For people new to New Zealand climbing, it i...
10 days 3 3
Explore now
Private Guiding on the summits
Whether you are 1 person or a larger group we can work with you to achieve your goals.This is a chance to get the exact proportion of instruction and/or summits that you like. Some...
6 days 2 2
Explore now
TIA Member Green Square Ifmca logo Newzealand mountain logo Outdoor markslogo Departmentofconversation logo