Altitude: 1085m to 1868m. Gain: 1775m. Loss: 2244m . Gradient: 24 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7) - Streams (2/6) Winter - High avalanche risk, iceaxe/crampons (7/7)
Altitude: 1655m to 1825m. Gain: 523m. Loss: 507m . Gradient: 18 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7)
From the Pass we climbed to the east (there is an obvious grassy ramp back from the middle of the pass) and picked our way through the rocks (occasionally spotting cairns) to descend to a bit of a ledge, initially at the 1800m contour and then at 1700m. Rather than traverse below the final bluffs, we climbed a steep shallow gut – a very easy approach to D’Urville Pass.
You need good visibility for this route.
Altitude: 1300m to 1868m. Gain: 24m. Loss: 590m . Gradient: 23 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Prolonged scrambles (4/7)
On the map, this route looks steep and risky - in wet or icy weather it would be. However, poled all the way, in good weather this is a simple descent on good, grippy rock.
Altitude: 1306m to 1791m. Gain: 510m. Loss: 29m . Gradient: 12 deg (Moderate-hard)
Skills: Occasional scrambles (3/7) - Streams (2/6)
Crossing the river to the TR, we tried to cut the corner but travel was easier closer to the stream.
Crossing back to the TL involved a scramble down and up out of the stream. Then a stiff climb to the gut (and fault line) that runs up to Lake Thompson. We traveled in the gut but travel would also be good on the ridgetop. From Lake Thompson, it's a short climb to Thompson Pass, first on a grassy tongue, then on rock.
Altitude: 1250m to 1815m. Gain: 19m. Loss: 584m . Gradient: -70 deg (Moderate)
Skills: Alpine weather (2/7) - Streams (2/6)
Descending from the pass, there is good scree for slide-stepping to the obvious tarn in quick time. Then move left of the tarn to the top of the gut descending SW to the Matakitaki Valley floor. Initially steep, it starts to look like bluffing out but it’s a simple boulder-hop to the bottom.
Once down, progress is easiest on the rocks in the river until almost the treeline. 1km from the bushedge the 'V' chute descending from Davids Saddle can be seen joining the valley from the north.
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.