Mt Philistine, Arthurs Pass National Park

by Dan & Zucco

Arthur’s Pass National Park (APNP) provides a lot of steep or long access routes to the mountains, making it more of a mountaineering destination. However, quality ski touring can still be found. SH73 passes through APNP at around 800 meters and provides some of the better touring opportunities in the area. For more ski touring routes, refer to the excellent NZAC Arthur Pass climbing guide book by Graeme Kates.


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Mt. Philistine shares the access with Mt. Rollestons’ Otira Slide from its well marked DOC track. A car park is present just a few hundreds of metres past the pass. Despite the modest altitude of 1967m, Mt. Philistine should be considered as a ski mountaineering trip, an axe and crampons are likely to be required. In winter or early spring it is possible to fit the skins past the foot bride and climb to the obvious col separating the bluffs and Warnocks Knob. From here there are a couple of options to negotiate the steep bluffs. The “winter route” is recommended in winter and early spring, and can be gained by sticking to the right and finding a steep gully that connects a few snow slopes with a few ledges. This is where crampons and an axe are likely to be required. Please take care in this section, as this has been the scene of fatal accidents in the past.

From the top of the bluffs, skinning up on easy terrain will get you almost half way up the Philistine headwall. Once at the top, you will be rewarded with panoramic views to the West, including the impressive Otira face of Mt. Rolleston. Before heading down the headwall, you might want to consider a couple of laps on the Rolleston glacier, before calling it a day. A few steep turns from the summit will keep you an edge. The rest of the skiing down will be on undulating rolling terrain, taking you back to the top the winter route above the bluffs.

ClimbNZ has a good overview of the winter route, dotted at the far right:
http://climbnz.org.nz/nz/si/arthurs-pass/mt-philistine/philistine-bluffsconnecting terraces.