Forum Index > Trip Reports > New Zealand: Single Cone in the Remarkables - November 2019
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 1907 | TRs
Location: My van
Matt Lemke
  Top

High on the Outdoors
PostSat Nov 16, 2019 1:00 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Single Cone is the highest peak in the Remarkables, which are a rugged but small mountain chain immediately east of Queenstown in the south island of New Zealand. Peter Jackson based the mountains guarding the borders of Mordor in the LOTR movies off these mountains, and indeed they are often spooky looking due to the numerous days of low clouds emulating a dark and dreary theme. Single Cone also is one of just 10 ultra prominent peaks in all of New Zealand (peak with over 5000 feet of prominence). With this designation you might think it would be an exceptionally long day to ascend, however due to the existence of the road leading up to the Queenstown ski area, the round trip ascent took me merely 3 hours to complete, with a short 2200 feet of elevation gain. Since the weather was not forecasted to be nice, I got a late start and decided to give it a go at the last minute when I saw it was quite clear.

The drive from Queenstown up to the ski area switchbacks up the west side of the peaks before circling around the north flanks and into a hanging valley on the northeast side of Single Cone. It is a true spectacle with dozens of incredible viewpoints overlooking Queenstown, the airport (where you can see planes take off and land below you), and the massive Lake Wapatipu. On clear days, much of the Mount Aspiring National Park, with all its rugged peaks would be visible as well.

Upon arriving at the public parking area, I ran into a guided party of 4 (New Zealand gets a lot of guiding business!) who were also planning to go up via the same, standard route I was taking via the east slopes and SE ridge above Wye Pass. Adam has a nice page about it here on Summitpost.

Since it is November (think May), there was still a ton of snow on most of the route with the only dry spots being the initial walk through the ski area to Lake Alta which sits in the bowl right below Single Cone (and adjacent Double Cone) at an elevation of 1800 meters. The car park was all the way up at 1600 meters which allowed me to hike to the lake in just 20 minutes. The lake was still mostly frozen over as I passed left of it heading up a small ridge around the SE side of the lake aiming for Wye Pass.

An unexpected nice day from Queenstown
An unexpected nice day from Queenstown
West side of the Remarkables
West side of the Remarkables
Single Cone way up there
Single Cone way up there
Views from the drive up
Views from the drive up
Remaining snow on the ski slopes
Remaining snow on the ski slopes
Single Cone (left) and Double Cone (right) from the hike through the ski area
Single Cone (left) and Double Cone (right) from the hike through the ski area
Singe Cone from frozen Lake Alta
Singe Cone from frozen Lake Alta

I made very quick work heading up to Wye Pass, which sits at around 1950 meters. The view to the south upon reaching the pass gave me panoramic views of the Hector Mountains. Due the the previous days rain, up to 6 inches of fresh snow covered aspects of the higher peaks above 2000 meters. From the pass I turned west and crossed a borad flat plateau aiming for s spot on the upper SE ridge. Ascending the east facing slopes was tedious due to post holing. I am sure the guided party well behind me would appreciate my hard work. I reached the ridge where I was greeted with brilliant views of the lake and Queenstown below. The final walk to the summit pyramid was beautiful.

Ascending the summit block usually involves some class 4 scrambling on slabby rock and up a chimney but it was all still snow covered. I was easily able to ascend the chimney on 40-50 degree snow without touching rock and emerge on the final few feet of the summit ridge, topping out less than 2 hours from when I left the trailhead. I ran into one of the same guide/clents I met at the Homer Hut a few days earlier who had come up one of the couloirs directly above the lake! They were shocked to see me. The full Grand Traverse between Single and Double Cone was laid out before me, and with a better weather day I may have tried it but it looked a little dicey. Two people also just died on this traverse less than 2 weeks ago, so I simply enjoyed the chilly and windy summit for 15 minutes before quite literally running down the mountain! Beers were consumed at the car while chatting with some other travelers before I started the drive back.

Hiking up to Wye Pass
Hiking up to Wye Pass
Hector Mountains from Wye Pass looking south
Hector Mountains from Wye Pass looking south
View from where I crested the SE ridge
View from where I crested the SE ridge
Classic New Zealand
Classic New Zealand
Double Cone from Single Cone
Double Cone from Single Cone
Two climbers near the summit
Two climbers near the summit
Panorama from the summit
Panorama from the summit
Traverse to Double Cone in view
Traverse to Double Cone in view
View of the summit pyramid, with the chimney on the right
View of the summit pyramid, with the chimney on the right
Back at the lake with some clouds coming in
Back at the lake with some clouds coming in
The ski lodge
The ski lodge

During the drive back down, I thoroughly enjoyed the many viewpoints and took many photos. Watching some airplanes land and take off was cool to see as the airport is right below, and the sheer amount of beautiful greenery is nothing short of stunning.

Queenstown residential below
Queenstown residential below
Aspiring National Park Peaks in the distance
Aspiring National Park Peaks in the distance
Queenstown Panorama
Queenstown Panorama
I think there is a plane landing down there
I think there is a plane landing down there

As of this writing, I am waiting for more bad weather to pass, and it's looking hopeful for me to climb Mount Cook later next week!  cool.gif

--------------
The Pacific coast to the Great Plains = my playground!!!
SummitPost Profile
See my website at:
http://www.lemkeclimbs.com
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
reststep
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Dec 2001
Posts: 4304 | TRs

reststep
  Top

Member
PostSat Nov 16, 2019 1:28 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Thanks for the report and pictures Matt.

Wow! Great views of Queenstown from up there.

Spent a couple of nights at the hostel in Queenstown in 1994.

--------------
"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Gimpilator
Member
Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 1398 | TRs
Location: Edmonds, WA
Gimpilator
  Top

Member
PostSat Nov 16, 2019 5:23 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
That's a fun climb.  You had a lot more snow than we did.  Thanks for the report and good luck on Cook.

--------------
https://www.youtube.com/c/Zogador
http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > New Zealand: Single Cone in the Remarkables - November 2019
  Happy Birthday Otter, CampChamp, Wolfman!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy