Altitude: 468m to 1776m. Gain: 1309m. Loss: 1m . Gradient: 24 deg (Steep)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7) - Streams (2/5)
Note: The Cascade Saddle Route has a notorious reputation for killing people. Above the bush line the route climbs relentlessly up snow grass, past bluffs, to where the Pylon used to be, (it doesn't exist anymore). If you slip during the upper part of the climb there is little to stop yourself from sliding over one. Do not attempt this route in wet or icy conditions.
From Aspiring hut enter the trees and follow a good quality track to bush line. The large stream is crossed about 1.5h into the climb and would be impassible after rain, but you shouldn't be coming up here in those conditions anyway! Once past the stream it's a short sharp climb to the bush line where there is a small flat piece of ground for a look out with magnificent views. Follow the snow poled route straight up the face of the hill as it snakes between bluffs.
The top of the climb has been heavily modified over the past couple of years following a spate of fatalities here. At roughly the 1700m mark a large red DOC sign warns to take extreme care due to falling hazard. The route then climbs straight up past a chute which in dry conditions is fine but which in wet conditions there would be a risk of sliding off over the cliff shown on the map. Finally the route tops out at about 1780m just north of where the pylon used to be on a broad easily traveled ridge. As at February 2016 the "pylon" no longer exists, although older literature refers to locating the pylon before attempting a decent into the Matukituki. The route is heavily snow poled up here, simply follow the poles.