Wilderness climbing at its best!
Enjoying the sunrise over Mt. La Perouse and Aoraki / Mt. Cook
La Perouse and Aoraki / Mt. Cook provide a great back-drop
Enjoying the views from the summit of Mt. Sefton
The terrain changes from dense bush to alpine scrub, then glaciers
Climbers ascend the final steep pitches above the Douglas Nevé
Camp high above Scott's Creek
The route crosses the Tekano Glacier to Welcome Pass
Mount Sefton and the Sierra Range as seen from the Copland Valley
Takiroa/Mount Sefton Guided Ascent
Mount Sefton is a stunning peak which towers high over Mount Cook Village and according to Maori legend is the guardian of Aoraki (Mount Cook). The isolated 3151m peak is one of New Zealand's premier wilderness climbs, and an excellent opportunity to climb an iconic 3000m peak entirely from sea level to summit!
|Guide:client ratio||5 days||6 days|
|returning client discount, if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
- IFMGA/NZMGA certified mountain guide
- National Park fees
- Hut accommodation
- Local accommodation for any nights required during the trip
- Free surface transport (Tekapo - Fox Glacier return)
- ALL meals (including snacks & energy bars) for the duration of the trip
- ALL technical climbing equipment (with the exception of boots)
Meals and accommodation before/after the trip are NOT included.
Aircraft access is only required for the 5 day "Alpine" option. Chances of success are increased by flying in, because you can take immediate advantage of a fine weather day for a summit attempt (if you walk in you will need several fine weather days in a row).
The peak climbing season for Mount Sefton ascents is mid November through to mid February, but it is sometimes possible to climb the mountain outside of these dates, depending on conditions. Please contact us with the dates you would like. We recommend that you settle guiding dates well in advance as guide availability during peak season is limited. Please allow extra time in case you are held up in the mountains due to weather.
Venue: Welcome Flats Hut & alpine bivouac / snow camp
↑ Enjoying "breakfast in bed" at the bivvy after a big summit day the day before.
If flying in, you will snow camp near the Horace Walker Glacier on the Sierra Range. You will be based from your tent camp for 2-3 days before flying or walking out.
Welcome Flats Hut is halfway up the Copland Valley, located next to the famous Welcome Flats hot pools. It is a DOC hut and must be booked in advance. The ascent from Welcome Flats involves two open bivouacs at the snow line high up in the Scott Creek Valley.
Climbers must carry their own sleeping bags, personal gear and some of the group equipment, food, stove, fuel, and cooking utensils (all provided by us) to the hut and bivouac (or snow camp).
Previous Experience & Agility
Previous mountaineering experience in snow and ice is required. We strongly recommend to participate in one of our Intensive Mountaineering Skills Courses prior to a Mount Sefton climb.
Participants for the "Alpine" option need to be:
- very fit, and used to back-to-back days in an alpine environment
- well coordinated and have the ability to learn new skills quickly
- mentally strong and well balanced to cope with height exposure
In addition, participants for the "Wilderness" option need to be:
- exceptionally fit, and used to carrying heavy packs for several days
- physically and psychologically able to deal with an extreme environment and very challenging terrain
While not technically very difficult, long distances need to be travelled with heavy packs over very steep and rough ground. Climbing the "Wilderness" option of Mount Sefton involves two open bivouacs at the snow line. Participants need to be exceptionally fit. Climbing days involve 14 or more hours of climbing. Please submit list of previous outdoor experience and schedule of personal fitness training.
Mountain Conditions & Weather
Conditions change significantly during the season. In late summer the Douglas Nevé can pose problems with crevasses. The northern facing slopes of the Tekano Glacier are avalanche prone in warm temperatures/lack of freeze. In winter the route is not recommended due to a high avalanche risk. Best time is from mid November through to mid February.
Itinerary - "Alpine" option
↑ Sunset over the Copland Valley with La Perouse and Aoraki Mount Cook towering above the cloud.
This option is great for mountaineers with limited time, or those who would like to spend more time in the high-alpine without the challenging multi-day ascent through West Coast bush, scrub and river beds. This is the recommended option for photographers!
Drive to airport:
After meeting your guide at our office, your gear will be checked. It is then a 1.5 hour drive to Mount Cook Airport or (if you are opting to walk out the Copland Valley) a 6 hour drive to Fox Glacier.
Airport - snow camp:
We fly in to the Horace Walker Glacier and establish our camp. If time permits, we'll go for an explore across the glacier and practice some skills in preparation for our summit attempt.
Snow camp - summit:
From the Horace Walker Glacier we follow the Sierra Range along to Welcome Pass and continue across the Douglas Nevé. We cross the glacier (which may be heavily crevassed later in the season) and climb 4-8 pitches of ice up to the cleft summit. With around 1000m of vertical ascent, we have a bit more time to enjoy the views over the West Coast, across to Aoraki Mount Cook and down the other side to Mount Cook Village.
After a second night snow camping, we have the option to either spend an additional day exploring the area before flying back to Mount Cook Village directly, or descending via Scott's Creek and the Copland Valley (please see the "Wilderness" option below).
Itinerary - "Wilderness" option
↑ Lower Scott's Creek - West Coast river levels can rise rapidly when it rains.
This option is only suitable for mountaineers with extensive multi-day tramping/off-track bush experience. Heavy loads need to be carried across very challenging terrain to get to the snow line - this is often the hardest part of the expedition. If you're not sure your physical (and mental!) fitness, endurance and agility are up to this, then choose the "Alpine" option.
Drive to the West Coast
After meeting at our office, your guide will check your equipment, before driving 6 hours to the start of the track. It may be an option for you to meet your guide in Wanaka.
Copland Valley - Welcome Flat Hut:
A 6 hour trek up the Copland Valley takes you to Welcome Flat Hut with its world-famous thermal springs. We have heavy packs for the walk in, but can enjoy a nice soak in the hot pools!
Welcome Flat Hut - alpine bivvy:
8-10 hours of steep climbing takes you up Scott Creek, a narrow valley, past numerous waterfalls and house-sized boulders. Depending on the river levels and avalanche conditions, an alternative bush track may be used. This is a truly awe-inspiring and intimidating place. Your guide's local knowledge is essential to find a safe way through the wilderness. We camp at the snow line.
Alpine bivvy - summit:
We have a big day ahead of us with 1500-1700m of ascent (depending on where we bivvy). We gain the ridge above Scott's Creek and cross the Tekano Glacier. Following steepening snow slopes we reach Welcome Pass and the Douglas Nevé. We cross the glacier (which may be heavily crevassed later in the season) and climb 4-8 pitches of ice up to the cleft summit. Climbing this awe-inspiring mountain all the way from sea level completely self-sufficiently is a very satisfying experience!
We return the same way, with a second bivvy at the snow line, before descending back to the Copland Valley. An overnight stop at Welcome Flats with its hot pools is a welcome finish to a great climb!
All of your equipment will be checked during the gear check at our office at the start of your trip. Any equipment you need to borrow from us will be issued by your guide.
Alpine Recreation provides helmets, harnesses, crampons and ice-axes. Outdoor clothing, packs and boots can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary. Please see the equipment list for further details.