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September 2017 Issue
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The icy volcano

The 30 degree slope of Mt Ngauruhoe. It’s a long way down. Photo: Zhi Yuen Yap
Total Ascent
3-5hr to the summit
Mangatepopo Road end
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Mt Ngauruhoe (gpx, yo 21 KB)
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Mt Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park

In summer, Mt Ngauruhoe (2287m) is a rather straightforward scramble up the loose scoria. Scores of people attempt it to earn the bragging rights of summiting ‘Mt Doom’. But in winter and spring, the mountain becomes a more serious undertaking.

Its 30-degree slope is not terribly steep. Under most conditions, with good route selection, rope and snow anchors are not required. However, good crampon technique and the ability to self-arrest is essential.

The most common, and straightforward ascent is via its northern flank, branching off from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing at South Crater. This side of the mountain tends to have more snow than ice, and with no major bluffs or gullies like the southern flank, it is more forgiving for novice climbers.

The ascent is physically exhausting, but it’s the descent that is psychologically challenging. It’s certainly a long way down if you start sliding.

– Zhi Yuen Yap

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