Ascent of Single Cone on 2019-02-26

Climber: Duncan Lennon

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Single Cone
    Location:New Zealand
    Elevation:7608 ft / 2318 m

Ascent Trip Report

Awesome! I like it when success on a mountain isn't a foregone conclusion. In researching this peak it was not clear to me that it could be safely climbed alone and ropeless, which is the only way I was equipped to do it. That uncertainty combined with some recent snow almost made me bail and climb Ben Lomond instead.

Well, I didn't bail and I'm glad of it. I woke up at 8:15 in Queenstown and cruised up the insane road to the ski area. The sun was shining as it had the day before, which made me hopeful that the snow from two days prior had melted. From the lower lot I marched up the ski area to Lake Alta, then up the climber's trail onto the slab area. The grain and swirl of the schist here was really cool to look at. The chimney looked clear from below, but what I observed here differed from my expectations.

I found that accessing the chimney (from directly below) is technically the crux of this climb. It's fourth class face climbing on solid but slopey holds and good feet, maybe 10' worth total. On either side of the crux is some more secure class 3+ climbing in cracks etc. The chimney itself, when clear, is just a 45° walk up some rubble, necessitating the occasional use of hands. Finally, at the top of the chimney is an ultra-exposed class 2 step onto the west face, from where the summit is accessible. I joyfully romped to the top and took in the view, which really is incredible. My climb took 1:26, which mystified me because I am not in good shape at the moment. Didn't take any breaks though. The summit was reached at 10:45, only 2.5 hours after I woke up!

So I've found the answer- yes you can climb Single Cone quickly and without gear. Downclimbing the slab below the chimney was a slow and considered process, and if I'd had a rope I definitely would have used it to rappel (there are three good rap stations, never more than ~20 meters apart). All in all I'd compare the technical difficulty here to that of Mt. Teewinot. But the whole mountain experience is incomparable.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)

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