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The Darran Mountains

21 April 2010

An alpine and rock climbing guide

A New Zealand Alpine Club publication – this volume is THE climbing guide to the Darran Mountains.

The first edition of the Darrans Guide, edited by Murray Judge and Hugh Widdowson, was published in 1990. It was a pocket-size book of 153 pages, covering the Earl and Darran Mountains. No difficulty rating was included for any of the route descriptions.

The Darrans Guide

The second edition, edited by Craig Jefferies, was published in 2o06; it has been revised to the point that it retains none of the character of the original publication. The size increased to A5, to fit within the style of the other NZAC publications, and yet the number of pages more than doubled to 311. The new guidebook contains heaps of new routes (climbers have been active in the Darrans during the 16 years separating the two editions!) and lots of high quality photographs, it covers a larger area (the peaks in the Arthur Valley and Sinbad Gully were added, as well as several newly developed crags) and includes a comprehensive winter section and some information on bouldering. In line with the first edition, there are no difficulty ratings for mountaineering routes – although a rock climbing grade for most rock routes is provided. Overall, the second edition is a huge improvement in both style and contents, although it clearly builds up on the work of the first editors.

Do I miss the handy pocket-size of the first edition? To be honest, not – many of the route descriptions are so scant, there is no need to take the guidebook into the field to remember them. Even those climbers with the shortest memory will be able to memorize routes such as the north-west face on Mt Syme or the original route on the Little Matterhorn. This is Fiordland – a land where guidebooks detract nothing from the sense of adventure.

A web update to this guidebook is available.


Jefferies, C. (Editor) 2006. The Darran Mountains – an alpine and rock climbing guide. Second Edition. Published by the New Zealand Alpine Club. 312 pages.

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