Up the Pyramid by an Avalanche Chute

That, is the Pyramid.

It had been calling me and teasing me for years. You can see its imposing profile on State Highway 73 driving towards the west coast.

We first attempted it late 2008, but got terribly lost and ended up in a massive bush bashing mission. Another attempt in 2009 led us to conclude the elusive ridge track, even if it once existed, is no more. We then decided that the best way up would be to follow the prominent avalanche chute, which we not so cleverly attempted in one winter (before there’s any avalanche danger – we are not quite that bold/stupid). We actually got quite a good way up before deciding to turn back because I could no longer feel my wet feet after a lunch break (we had to cross a river to get to the bottom of the peak). Since then, we knew if we are going to attempt it again, it’d have to be before the snow sets in.

And Saturday was the day!

We went, as planned, up the avalanche chute, gaining height quickly and practicing the “hands and knees” technique. However, we eventually came to a bluff, which forced us to get into the bush and start a huge bush bashing battle. The slope was extremely steep, and we had to put our rock climbing skill to use, assessing tree roots as handholds and footholds on the way up.

The Pyramid was such a tease! For absolutely AGES we could see the sun shining through the trees, promising the ridge to us over our head. Finally, we were rewarded with the view of the summit once we got out of the trees.

Oh yes, the summit was just a strolls reach now, albeit surrounded by imposing looking bluffs. However, once we got to the “summit”, we realised the real summit is another 10 minutes away… So a quick stroll led us there, only to find out the REAL summit is another 5 minutes away.

Nevertheless, I finally got the Pyramid under my feet!

Oh the view up the top is so rewarding –

We pretty much came down the way we went up, this time adapting the “hands and bum” technique. Abseiling equipment would have been nice, or a paraglider.

Since not much info can be found on the way up the Pyramid, I’ll describe it a little here. (View Pyramid in a Google map.)

The Pyramid is at the confluence of Hawdon and Sudden Valley. Turnoff at the sigh for Mt White Bridge on SH73 near Cass. Follow the road to Hawdon Valley Shelter and park there. Walk along the riverbed up Hawdon River, then cross the river after a signposted fence. This brings you pretty much to the foot of the Pyramid. Walk into Sudden Valley and you’ll come to a very big rock slip, which is the bottom of the avalanche chute we went up on. Keep making your way up the avalanche chute until you come to a bluff. Make your way to the right into the bush to get over the bluff, then try to get back to the chute again. Eventually the chute becomes covered in moss, and the way from here to the summit is more straight forward. It took Kiwi Bird and I 4.5 hours to the summit from the car park, then 3.5 hours to get back (elevation 563 – 1608 m). We are not really slow climbers, and most of the time is spent searching for a way and bush bashing. If you have done the Pyramid and know of a better way up that still exists, I’d love to know about it.


2 thoughts on “Up the Pyramid by an Avalanche Chute

  1. Ooooh you just made me so homesick!
    Relatives of mine have a place just around the corner from here at the Bealey, amazing area isn’t it? Not surprisingly one of my cousins is an accomplished mountaineer, has worked in alpine search and rescue etc.
    Himself would just LOVE this kind of tramp… the last one we managed in NZ was far tamer than yours… here:
    Next trip I will be off crutches and will have to see how strong my foot is, Dr’s have warned that I might have to be taking it easy for a few years until all the tissue damage gets properly back to normal strength…if it looks ok then I might try a smaller tramp, but since there are no hills around here anyway, we will have to make do with your stunning photos.
    Great post!

    • Ha, I love your article title!
      Take care of that leg of yours! It’s hard dealing with an injury with a long recovery time 😦 Boo!
      Hubby and I love the alps. I, in particular, think I have an addiction… We are nothing hardcore though. Though I’ve done many higher peaks and longer tramps, this is perhaps the toughest climb I’ve done to date – makes me really appreciate how much work DOC puts into maintaining all the wonderful tracks everywhere. Even a very neglected track is better than no track at all when it comes to thick dense bushes. NZ really is a tramper’s heaven!
      Wish you the most speedy recovery!

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