Sabre North Buttress • New Zealand • March 2003

After the February snow storm began to melt, we again planned a quick trip into Sabre, a fantastic tower of granodiorite in the Darrans. The classic route is the North Buttress.

Other Recent Trips

We walked in over Gertrude Saddle, starting from the Homer Hut. This is a great way to get into the peak—quick, scenic, and with the traverse around Barrier Knob and the descent of Gifford's Crack, even rather interesting. Here, Kathy hikes up towards Barrier Knob. The Milford sound is behind.


On the way up to Black Lake we noticed this cairn. It appears to have been moved intact by the creep of the snowpack, left standing some 30 feet downhill from where it was originally built.


Looking towards Sabre from Adelaide Saddle. Phil's Bivy, our home for a couple nights is at the two large boulders just right of the photo center.


Wind-blown waterfalls above Lake South America.


Sabre. The North Buttress forms the left skyline.


The route.


The "porch" at Phil's bivy. In the evening the Keas would come around looking for opportunities to steal whatever they could fly off with.


Looking back towards Adelaide Saddle and Lake South America from near Phil's.


The entrance to Phil's Bivy with Lake Adelaide.


The upper part of the approach and the climb, taken on our descent. The route down goes left, into the notch—lots of downclimbing and about 6 or 7 rappels. While long rappels make things a bit easier, with a bit more downclimbing, a single 50 meter rope will suffice (25 meter rappels).


The route proper. The lower grassy areas are called the Yak Pastures. There are a number of ways to get to them, none particularly inviting. For us, the good climbing began at the left end of the long leftward traverse.


Kathy at a belay. On this section the line swung around on the east side of the buttress, and gave the best and hardest climbing on route.


Breaking out lunch, high on the climb near the top of the Buttress.


The view from near the summit. Lake Adelaide on the right, Lake South America, Adelaide Saddle and The Sentinel near center, and Milford Sound behind.


Sunset on Mount Revelation from Phil's Bivy.


A friendly Kea followed us for the first fifteen minutes of the walk out. As soon as he determined that Kathy really had nothing to offer, he protested with a loud squawk and promptly flew off.

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