Participants need to be very fit in order to accomplish the crossing from Aoraki Mount Cook to Douglas Rock Hut in a single day (approx 12 hours). Previous mountaineering experience and good cramponing and ice axe skills are essential. We strongly recommend that participants do a guided Ball Pass crossing or Introductory Climbing Course with Alpine Recreation first in order to learn the necessary mountaineering skills and to allow guides to assess participants' suitability.
Day 1: 4:00 pm gear check at the Alpine Recreation office, 30 Murray Place, Lake Tekapo.
Day 2: Early morning start, 4:00 am. Drive to Aoraki Mount Cook. Starting from Aoraki Mount Cook Village, 780 m, you walk up the Hooker Valley to the Hooker Lake. Here you leave the formed track and you climb over easy terrain until a rock buttress needs to be negotiated.
The guide will belay you up the 150 m of exposed but technically easy rock until you reach snow slopes that lead to the north-eastern part of the Stewart Glacier. You climb steep snow and ice slopes and around crevasses until you reach a shoulder where the view opens up to the south face of Aoraki Mount Cook. A steep snow traverse leads to the final slope that takes you to FitzGerald Pass, 2109 m. 7-8 hours from the road end.
From FitzGerald Pass it is a long descent of about 4 hours to reach Douglas Rock Hut, through old avalanche debris, and it places the track is hard to find. The guide will leave you here and return to Mt Cook Village.
Day 3: You continue on your own for the rest of the Copland Track. Douglas Rock Hut - Welcome Flats Hut takes 3 hours. Soaking in the hot pools is bliss after your exertions of the previous days.
Days 4: Welcome Flats Hut to road end is 5 - 6 hours.
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