Altitude: 1225m to 2622m. Gain: 593m. Loss: 1750m . Gradient: 16 deg
Skills: Mountaineering (6/7)
This route involves technical mountaineering. Traverse the Douglas Neve towards the base of Mt Brunner. Choose a gully to climb to reach the slopes NW of Mt Stephen. The gully we chose at Xmas 2017 involved two 30m seemingly vertical ice steps (pack hauling for leader), a 50m rock pitch (easy but wandering) followed by another 80ish metres of steep snow to reach the top of the rock buttress. From the top of the buttress, the snow was easily gained and Mt Stephen was easily reached.
The SE ridge of Mt Stephen to the dip where the snow can be regained is difficult with an exposed traverse on the SW side of the ridge past a gendarme on loose rock (little protection) and with real rock climbing moves. This is probably OK with a day pack, but with full packs, it was extremely difficult. Once past the gendarme, the ridge is straight forward; choose the best spot to descend to the snow.
There was a large schrund at the base of the initial snow slopes however the rock directly below Mt Stephen was easy scrambling and the schrund was crossable at the northern end. Once over the schrund, travel is straight forward past Mt Thomson to reach the slopes above Harper Flat. It is an easy tussock descent to the flats.
Mt Thomson is climbed from the W ridge with a short rocky section that may require belaying depending on conditions.