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Aoraki / Mount Cook, 3rd Edition

10 May 2010

A guide for mountaineers

Published by the New Zealand Alpine Club

The Mount Cook Guidebook, 1st edition (left) and 2nd edition (right)

The first edition was published in 1982 under the title “The Mount Cook guidebook: a climbers guide to the Mt Cook region”. Edited by Hugh Logan, it had 132 pages, and contained route descriptions for the Mueller and Hooker Valleys, the Strauchon Glacier, La Perouse Glacier, Lower and Upper Tasman, Grand Plateau, Murchison Valley, and the Spencer, Franz Josef, Fox and Balfour Glaciers. The book replaced Davidson’s and Hewitt’s earlier guide, Mt Cook Alpine Regions, last re-edited in 1972.

The second edition, by Hugh Logan again, was published in 1987.  It was mainly a revision of the first volume, with a slight increase in the number of pages (143) partially explained by the addition of new routes climbed during the previous 5 years. This edition was notable for introducing the “Mt Cook grading system” (1 – 7), which has become the standard for the rating of alpine routes in New Zealand. A revised edition with a 10 page supplement describing new routes in the area was published in 1994.

The third edition, by Alex Palman, was published in 2001 under the title “Aoraki / Mount Cook: A guide for mountaineers”. The look was modified to fit within the New Zealand Alpine Club’s guidebook series, but the layout remained very much the same. The size however doubled to 288 pages, thanks to the addition of many new routes, sketches, photographs, and two regions not covered by previous editions of the guidebook: the Liebig Range and the Godley Valley. The rating system is the well consolidated Mt Cook scale introduced in the second edition, and recommended routes are noted with a star.

“Aoraki / Mount Cook – a guide for mountaineers” is the definitive guide to climbing in the highest region of the Southern Alps. Since Mount Cook is by far the most popular mountaineering area in New Zealand, updated and reliable information is available for most routes, making this a consistent and reliable guidebook. The author walked the extra mail in researching all recent climber magazines and newsletters of various sections of the NZ Alpine Club, as well as local mountaineering clubs, in addition to hut books now stored in libraries. The result is a publication of outstanding quality.

A web update to this guidebook is available


Palman, A. (2001) Aoraki / Mount Cook: A guide for mountaineers. Published by the New Zealand Alpine Club. 288 pages.

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