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Crag & Route Beta

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NZ Balfour Glacier and Dilema peak 23-Dec-2009 At 1:57:08 PM stuart h
I assume you are trying to find a copy of the Balfour Rock Guide that was published around 2000,
rather than the NZAC/Palman Cook Book. You'd be lucky to find one in Australia, but I expect you
could probably still find copies of the Balfour guide in stores in NZ - try Bivouc and McEwings in Chch
or Good Sports and Mainly Tramping in Wanaka. Obviously the Cook book is available everywhere.

The Palman editions of the Cook guide have pretty much all the info you need for the rock routes on
Drake and Magellan. The main access for people doing the rock climbs (as distinct from the Balfour
Face of Tasman which is usually accessed via the Silberhorn) is to helicopter to Katie's Col
overlooking the Fox neve and travel in from there. This access is quite a solid piece of mountaineering
but the key routefinding features are described in the Cook guide. The Balfour guide has pitch by pitch
descriptions and topos but you can happily climb without them, especially with the extra detail Alex
Palman, who developed many of the routes, has included in his Cook Guide.

You could camp on the glacier in any spot that seemed safe enough or head up to a little rock ledge
on an outcrop just below the arete (Astrolabe) that marks the edge of the quite sheer west face. This
will also be described in the guide and is obvious. It is a really nice and convenient spot to camp but it
doesn't offer any shelter, so good weather only. Several years ago there was a plastic barrel full of
useful goodies (and a copy of the Balfour Rock Guide) secured on this ledge.

A full set of nuts, double 50m+ ropes (the rappel stations down the west face are 51m or less apart),
and a good fistfull of cams (I think we had 6 from tips to fist) should get you up most routes. The more
traditional routes (Shogun, Astrolabe) go at about 16/17 while most of the west face lines are about
19/20. For all these routes you are best to scramble around to the top of the west face where there is
one line of double bolt stations (you need tat to tie them together) - 6 or 7 rappels. A few other routes
have been established at about 22/23 and these have bolted stations so that you can rappel the route.
Along the base of the west face and down the gully below there are further stations so you can keep
abseiling down the snow until you reach your boots.

There is some lovely rock and climbing there (and a few death blocks) and the situation is magnificent.
I think that the area may have been over-hyped but it is still a great mountain adventure with
entertaining climbing.

Dilemma is usually accessed over Baker Saddle from Gardiner Hut in the Hooker Valley. I have no
idea what travel up the Strachan from the West Coast would be like - I reckon you'd need to ask
Colonel Fawcett - you certainly couldn't talk me into walking up there.

Dilemma is a fantastic peak, the huge slab is a great feature and the whole thing makes for a big, fun
climb. Once above the hanging glacier you can head pretty much anywhere - all the routes seem much
the same: lots of climbing at about grade 10 with small passages of friction (grade 15?) to link
features. 3-4 cams (finger-hand), most of a set of wires and a couple of blade/lost arrow pitons. You
generally need to travel over the peak with all your kit so travel light if you can. The descent involves
some care with routefinding but this is quite well described in the Cook guide and Gardiner Hut.

Further south, in the Darrans, you can do lots of excellent (sub)alpine rock climbing on very good
granite without most of the high mountain hassle.

So much fun stuff to do and potential for new lines in all three areas. Good luck.

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