Altitude: 1085m to 1784m. Gain: 699m. Loss: 534m . Gradient: 30 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/6) Winter - High avalanche risk, iceaxe/crampons (7/7)
From the base of the bush (upstream of the forks draining the saddle), follow the orange triangles steeply uphill until they descend into a small gully, not marked on the map. The markers now become sporadic, and it’s basically up to you to follow the gully up. This is the slight ‘v’ in the contours shown on the topomap to the east of the gridline which bisects the saddle. As such, you’ll have to abandon the gully at some point before you hit bluffs and scree, and cut 500m to your right to find David’s Saddle. I walked this section in thick fog, and can confirm that with careful map reading it is possible to find the saddle. In clear conditions it should be clearly visible above. The descent of the Matakitaki side of David’s Saddle is steep and loose: follow the base of the ‘V’ shaped ravine all the way to the valley floor, surfing a tide of loose scree all the way.
Note 2018: depending on snow conditions, it could be potentially easier to descend via rocky face on left side of the gut (go quite a long way left). There may be a bit of easy down climbing required, but mostly fairly straightforward, and avoids waterfalls lower down the creek, and rock falls on the right side.