Behind the Scenes: Double Cone

Kester Brown looking back across the Double Cone - Single Cone Grand Traverse, from the summit of Single Cone. Remarkables.

Kester Brown looking back across the Double Cone – Single Cone Grand Traverse, from the summit of Single Cone. Remarkables.

High above Queenstown – the self promoting ‘adventure capital’ of the world – the soaring apex of the Remarkables Range draws the eye naturally upwards. Double Cone and its neighbour Single Cone are undoubted highlights for any climbers visiting the area. Some call Queenstown the Chamonix of the South – in comparison with France’s climbing capital – and this is all down to the location, accessibility and quality of the nearby mountains.

For Mark and I, researching Double Cone was certainly not a chore. The Remarkables Ski Field access road allowed easy access to the upper part of the mountain, and the climbing opportunities – both winter and summer – that arise in all sides. In winter, the Remarkables Ice and Mixed Festival draws climbers from all round the country as well as overseas to test themselves on the ever increasing number of ice and mixed routes here. And in summer, a number of fine rock routes can be found on a various faces.

For me, the Double Cone – Single Cone traverse is an absolute must! You’ll need a head for heights with this one, and also some technical climbing sills. Although the traverse is considered easy by competent rock climbers and alpinists, some teams choose to use a rope because of the exposure.

In summer, the traverse is a pleasant rock scramble/climb, basically sticking to the ridge-line from Double Cone to Single Cone. Some people climb it the other way, but Double to Single means you get to climb up, rather than down, the crux at Double Cone. There is also a tricky bit down-climbing Single Cone which can sometimes be wet or iced up, but abseil anchors are available if needed. In winter, the whole route can be covered in snow or ice, and becomes more technical.

If climbed unroped, the route can be completed in an easy half day car-to-car, but it’s much nicer to take your time and enjoy the view. Don’t be surprised to see some ‘gun’ climber flash past in running shoes – for them this is a training circuit!

I always look forward to visiting Queenstown, either for a weekend or a more extended stay. The range of climbing opportunities on Double Cone are more than enough to keep me interested.



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