Cascade Saddle Route
ElevationAscent: 4,821' 1,469 m
Descent: -3,270' -997 m
High: 5,806' 1,770 m
Low: 1,535' 468 m
GradeAvg Grade: 15% (9°)
Max Grade: 65% (33°)
Popular runs nearby
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Routeburn Track: Routeburn Shelter to the Divide
19.2 mi 31.0 km • Point to Point • 3,891 ft Ascent 1185.95 m Ascent
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Routeburn Track: The Divide to Routeburn Shelter
19.2 mi 31.0 km • Point to Point • 3,841 ft Ascent 1170.66 m Ascent
4.7 mi 7.6 km • Out and Back • 1,389 ft Ascent 423.41 m Ascent
“A spectacular alpine route to connect the Dart and West Matukituki Valleys in summer.”— Tom Harris
Time: 4-5 hr
Distance: 6 km
The track is signposted from Aspiring Hut and climbs steadily up through mixed beech forest. Above the bushline the track becomes a route and is marked with orange poles. It follows a steep snow grass and tussock ridge with some rocky outcrops and ledges to negotiate. From the bushline, the route is narrow, steep and very exposed - you'll need your hands to climb.
If snow is present, do not proceed without an ice axe and crampons and the skills to use them - slipping can mean falling several hundred metres off the cliffs.
The route reaches the pylon at the top of the ridge (1835 m) via a steep and narrow gully that holds snow for much of the year.
If the route is attempted in reverse (from the Dart) the pylon and orange-poled route MUST be located before descending into the Matukituki Valley. This section of the route is much more difficult to go down than go up.
After the pylon follow the poles down to Cascade Creek, cross it to the easy slopes and flats leading to Cascade Saddle (1524 m).
There is a camping site with a toilet near Cascade Creek. It's the only suitable camping site along the route.
The track becomes slippery in wet conditions and a fall can be fatal - turn around if weather deteriorates.
Cascade Saddle to Dart Hut
Time: 4-5 hr
Distance: 10 km
The route to both the Dart and Rees valleys veers off to the left, just before you reach Cascade Saddle. Follow the orange poles along the ridge, then the rock cairns through the steep and unstable slopes down to the valley floor and lateral moraines of the Dart Glacier. The traverse from the ridge to the valley floor is above 1500 metres and very exposed to the weather.
Stay on the true left bank of the Dart River/Te Awa Whakatipu – the left side looking down river. You'll need to ford several side streams. The water level rises quickly with either rain or afternoon snow melt, take care in particular with streams further down the valley, close to Dart Hut.
Slightly upstream from the confluence of the Dart and Snowy Creek, a bridge over the creek leads to Dart Hut.
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Land Manager: National Park Service - Mount Aspiring National Park