Single Cone – The Remarkables, New Zealand

This post is long overdue and just been busy and a bit lazy to put it all together but I’m back in the mood today so it’s time to pump it out!

Angie and I had a trip planned for New Zealand over the 2017/2018 Xmas and New Years and we were obviously really exciting looking for things to see and activities do on our trip.

I came across this Via Ferrata activity that goes up some waterfall around Wanaka and it looked pretty cool. It was around $400 a person and after checking out the website, it didn’t look that technical, it was pretty straight forward eg. just climbing up ladders over and over again seemed pretty boring. So i thought, why we dont go and find some awesome climb to do together and we can bring our gear.

I started googling and trolling through forums looking for climbs that are similar to “Tip Toe Ridge” at Arapiles and even going through to look for easy fun climbs. Somehow i came across this climb called the Grand Traverse.

Screen shot 2018-05-05 at 4.11.12 PM.png

The Grand Traverse shown in red in the photo above is a lap following the ridge of peaks in the Remarkables which goes around Lake Alta. This goes to the Telecom Tower, Double Cone and then Single Cone. It has that alpine feel which i really like and after reading in some of the forums, really experienced guys said it takes them about 10hrs carpark to carpark which is pretty epic. It reminds me of the Fitz Traverse which is pretty epic and got me pretty excited.

I had a think about it and i thought it might be a bit too epic for Angie and I especially as we’re not experienced in the area and dont know what to expect. So i looked for alternatives, one of which is a direct climb up Single Cone which is the highest peak in the Remarkables which still gives you those amazing 360deg views and looks like a hell of a lot of fun. So i thought that would be our objective and a bit more manageable, less stress and we’ll be able to enjoy ourselves a bit more.

So i started trolling through the internet to get info on Single Cone and actually came across a few websites that had quite a bit of detail however it was difficult to really know what to expect as i was essentially piecing together bits of information, photos and video together to get an idea of what the climb is like and whats going on. In summary i found out that there are two routes, the easiest being what they call the the standard route or the descent route, then there is the harder one called the North East Arete.

I finally spent a solid day on the weekend just putting it all together and ended up making my own little mini guide! It was hard i guess because the descent route wasn’t really in any guidebooks (yes i got friends to send me photos of their guidebooks!). The easiest route in guidebooks was the NE Arete so that definitely made it hard to figure out what to expect.

The NE Arete looks a bit more exposed as you straddle the arete and looks pretty sick. The standard route looks pretty straight forward where you follow the path up before you have to traverse along these ledges to get to the bottom of a gully which is filled with snow. Then the idea is that you get climb up 2 pitches through the snow gully and then do a bit of a scramble up to the summit. Coming down you abseil back down through the snow gully and come back down the way you came up. It looked pretty cool!

Single Cone South East Ridge_0

Single Cone South East Ridge_1

Check out the mini guide that i put together with all the info and photos i found 🙂

This climb was going to be the highlight our our New Zealand trip! we tried to plan it around a day with awesome weather and a day when we were well rested. I still was a bit suss about the climbing through the snow gully and wasn’t sure how snowy it was going to be and if it was alright with tennies.

We were pretty lucky cause we stayed at a campsite one night and our neighbour was a mountain guide working in Queenstown so we asked him for the beta and he was super friendly and helpful! it definitely gave us so much more confidence after that chat.

The next day we spent at Queenstown and we even bought matching gloves cause we saw that the forecast was like 4degC up in the Remarkables as opposed to the 27degC in Queenstown! Such a good buy =)

The next day we headed off in the morning around 10am and along the way, we bumped into our guide who was taking a client up! what a coincidence =)


We started the walk with pretty much all our clothes on cause it was freezing! Hehehe but it wasn’t long before we started stripping off =P it took us about 30min to get to Lake Alta as we followed the 4wd looking track up the hill. It’s so beautiful!


We headed towards the west side of Lake Alta and then followed a number of tracks up the scree! There were so many tracks and was easy to get into one which took you to some steep sketchy terrain! One we got off the acre, you can see the Single Cone behind us!


The scree then turns into talus and the air gets crispy.


There were heaps of areas with snow and little frozen ponds!






Once we traversed across to the ledge at the base of the snow gully, we had a little picnic.



The two pitches of scrambling through the gully were pretty straight forward. Got can scramble in the gully or out on the right which had better protection. At the end of the 2nd pitch just before the summit was this really cool hands crack =)

This was the final little scramble before we got to the summit!


Here we are at the summit where you can see Double Cone behind us!

It was actually a bit scary to scramble around the summit cause it was so exposed and airy =P


What an epic view =)


We came down by doing 2 rappels back to the bottom of the gully




What a day! It took us around 12 hours carpark to carpark and we were going SUPER slow but nevertheless, it was AMAZING! It ended up being pretty late by the time we got back so we ended up sleeping at the car park where we got free wifi! It was super cold that night but it was another one of those nights where we slept so well and woke up the next day like little sausages but with smiles on our faces =)

Check out this little recording that we recorded once we got into bed that summarises our day.


About peetiez

I'm 24 and from Melbourne. =D
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