South Face East Twin Second Ascent

Monday 10 March 2014, 3:59pm -- daniel.joll

Queenstown is the ideal location to live as a climber in NZ.  Close enough to all the major South Island alpine climbing destinations it is perfect for taking advantage of short weather windows and maximising your weekend adventures.  Ben Dare and I left home at 6am on Saturday morning with high hopes of a climb on the South Face of Barrier Peak.  We were expecting overnight showers to have cleared by the time we reached Homer Hut.  Unfortunately this was not the case and light rain greeted us on our arrival.  

A quick discussion and objective change to what we thought was the West Face of the Twins.  We reasoned that as the approach was straight forward and therefore did not require dry rock we could make our way around to the face then climb the following day when hopefully the rock had dried out.  Turns out this is actually the South Face - clearly we did not consult a map or compass before heading off. We also did not look in the guide book and mistakenly thought the face was unclimbed.  As it turns out the face was originally climbed by Geoff Wayatt, Calum Hudson, Bruce Clarke and Dave Begg back in 1974.  Turns out the line we took more or less follows where their team went.  If we had consulted the guide book we would have read "quite grassy & not recommended" and could add to that after a day of heavy rain quite wet and slippery, rather average climbing and marginal gear.

South Face East Twin.jpg

South Face of East Twin, with the line of ascent marked in red

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

South Face of East Twin, with the line of ascent marked in red

Creator: 
Daniel Joll
 

P3080292.JPG

Approaching towards the East Face of East Twin

Creator: 
Ben Dare

Approaching towards the East Face of East Twin

Creator: 
Ben Dare

IMG_4384.JPG

Ben descending the West Ridge of West Twin

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Ben descending the West Ridge of West Twin

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

We set out in the light rain approaching what we thought was going to be a nice new route on good quality rock.  From Adelaide Saddle the South Faces of the Twins look excellent. Up close they leave quite a bit to be desired.  Both faces are covered in grass and plenty of moss.  They also have quite a bit of run off thanks to the summit snow fields.  

Click on the YouTube link below to watch video from the ascent

South Face East Twin Second Ascent Darran Mountains Fiordland

We headed over to the faces by descending the West Ridge of West Twin.  This involved a bit of down climbing and three 30m absails.  In future for people heading to this face we would suggest abseiling the col between the Sentinel and East Twin.  This would be faster and more direct.  The traverse across the snow ledge is straight forward however crampons and ice axe are needed.  We followed a line on the left hand side of the South Face of East Twin.  At 450 meters high the South Face cut an imposing figure from our bivvy below.  We got away to a causal start after making the most of our luxurious bivvy spot, brewing up and watching the sun rise.  By 7.45am we were headed up the first pitch, a moderate chimney at around grade 17.  This was followed up by some terrible wet moss covered slabs and several pitches up to grade 18.  By 3.30pm we were sitting on the summit admiring the view back down to Milford.  A quick descent down the North Ridge of East Twin saw us hitting the base of the face somewhere close to 5pm.  Ben had his first meetings at 8am on Monday morning so taking our time was not on the cards and we hauled arse getting back to Homer Hut at 8.15pm.  Even though the day was not particularly long or taxing, climbing a few hundred meters of wet run out slab still takes it out of you and knowing your legs have enough energy to run the last half hour back to the hut with a pack on was a good feeling.  

P3080350.JPG

Bivvy under the South Face of East Twin

Creator: 
Ben Dare

Bivvy under the South Face of East Twin

Creator: 
Ben Dare

P3080351.JPG

Enjoying the sunset at our bivvy under the South Face

Creator: 
Ben Dare

Enjoying the sunset at our bivvy under the South Face

Creator: 
Ben Dare

IMG_4445.JPG

An amazing sunset from our bivvy under the South Face

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

An amazing sunset from our bivvy under the South Face

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

IMG_4454.JPG

Breakfast brew. We woke at 6am then spent a causal hour and three quarters eating, drinking and waiting for the sun to rise.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Breakfast brew. We woke at 6am then spent a causal hour and three quarters eating, drinking and waiting for the sun to rise.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

IMG_4523.JPG

Ben following steep slab on the lower half of the South Face. Our bivvy was located on the rock ledges just off the snow at the bottom of this pic.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Ben following steep slab on the lower half of the South Face. Our bivvy was located on the rock ledges just off the snow at the bottom of this pic.

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

P3090401.JPG

Excellent, more wet grass filled cracks!!! (not really most of the route was complete rubbish)

Creator: 
Ben Dare

Excellent, more wet grass filled cracks!!! (not really most of the route was complete rubbish)

Creator: 
Ben Dare

Overall even though the climbing was average and we had missed out on the new route this was still a perfect weekend mission to the Darrans.  An amazing bivvy overlooking Milford Sound, exploring new areas of the Darran mountains, sharing good times and the odd scary pitch with a good mate, no better way to spend your weekend! I guess in the future we will consult the guide book and maybe even a map so we at least know which aspect we are climbing on and if it has been done before! The good news though is that exploring any new area always shows you the potential for a new adventure and the waterfall that runs for around 350m between the East and West Twins will make an excellent winter objective! 

P3090432.jpg

Daniel leading high up on the South Face

Creator: 
Ben Dare

Daniel leading high up on the South Face

Creator: 
Ben Dare

IMG_4568.JPG

Summit of East Twin with Milford Sound in the background

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

Summit of East Twin with Milford Sound in the background

Creator: 
Daniel Joll

 

Tags: 

Comments

Submitted by Kester on

that's disappointing. did the sth face west twin look similar? (always thought the central/right-hand side of that face might be good)

Submitted by daniel.joll on

Yes, south face of west twin was a similar story. Wetter than the east twin, quite allot of snow on top of the peak that feeds the run off. there would be two summer lines that could go one up the corner right of the original line joining this route for the last couple of pitches and also another wet mossy corner on the right of the face that would go to the top. Neither of them looked very nice though and even though the line we did was not great it looked better than these two....... who knows maybe after a long dry spell the face would be nicer. Definitely it has all the right ingredients for some good winter routes with good drainage up high getting the sun and melting onto shady faces that will freeze well. also quick approach from Homer 4 - 6 hours i would think depending on how much snow was around.