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February 2016 Issue
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No. 20 – Get high, bag a 3000m peak

Getting high - to the top of Mt. Aspiring, Photo: Grant Maslowski

Many a tramper aspires to get high, a need fairly easily satisfied with ascent of such peaks as Mts Ruapehu, Taranaki and Tapuae-o-Uenuku, all of which break the 2500m barrier. But what about the 3000m mark?

New Zealand has 32 peaks higher than 3000m, all in the Southern Alps (some named peaks such as Aoraki, Haast and Haidinger have more than one distinct summit).

While the highest of these – Aoraki/Mt Cook, Mts Tasman and Dampier – are beyond the ability of most trampers, others are within reach given appropriate training and experience. These four are all fairly straightforward in the right conditions. Those who don’t trust their own skills can hire a guide.

Leadenfeld, 3194m

Mountaineers will need to deal with glacier travel, crevasses and some navigation on the upper Fox Glacier to reach Marcel Col from Pioneer Hut, but the peak’s upper slopes are not too steep nor exposed.

Mt Aspiring/Tititea, 3033m

The only 3000m peak outside the Mt Cook area and is usually approached from the Matukituki Valley, either by way of the Bevan Col route, or French Ridge.

The Minarets, 3040m

A pair of similar-height peaks at the head of the Franz Josef Glacier, most often accessed from Centennial Hut. A steep climb up the head of the glacier leads to a summit plateau, where the final push leads to the highest of the Minarets.

Mt Dixon, 3004m

One of several peaks that rise above the Grand Plateau. Some ascend Dixon’s east ridge as a ‘warm-up’ to climbing Aoraki.