Mount Cook, New Zealand

Prominence: 3724 m, 12218 ft

Elevation: 3724 meters, 12,218 feet

True Isolation: 3139.11 km, 1950.56 mi
Historical Info:This peak has existed in its current form since 1991-12-14.
Local or Alternate Name(s)Indigenous Name: Aoraki
Highest SummitHigh Peak
SubpeaksMount Cook - False Summit (3718 m/12,198 ft)
Mount Cook - Middle Peak (3717 m/12,195 ft)
Mount Cook - Low Peak (3593 m/11,788 ft)
Latitude/Longitude (WGS84)43° 35' 42'' S, 170° 8' 32'' E
-43.595008, 170.14212 (Dec Deg)
430754 E 5172750 N, Zone 59 (UTM)
CountryNew Zealand (Highest Point)
State/ProvinceCanterbury (Highest Point)

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Other Web Sites
     Aoraki / Mount Cook (High Peak) at Summits on the Air (Amateur Radio)

Lists that contain Mount Cook:
     World Peaks with 1000 km of Isolation (Rank #10)
     World Top 50 by Prominence (Rank #39)
     World Top 100 by Prominence (Rank #39)
     UN Member State High Points (Rank #47)
     World Peaks with 300 km of Isolation (Rank #10)
     Ultras of Australia and the Pacific (Rank #2)
     World Country High Points (Rank #49)
     Australia/Oceania Range3 High Points (Rank #6)
     World Island High Points above 2000 meters (Rank #9)
     Oceania Island High Points above 1000 meters (Rank #3)
     Ultras of Australia-Oceania (Rank #3)
     Australia/Oceania UN Member High Points (Rank #3)
     Ultras of New Zealand (Rank #1)
     Australia/Oceania Country High Points (Rank #3)
     Australia/New Zealand Peaks with 200 km of Isolation (Rank #1)
     Real (Toughest) Seven Summits (Rank #4)
     New Zealand Region High Points (Rank #1)
     New Zealand 3000-meter Peaks (Rank #1)
     New Zealand Peaks with 600 m of Prominence (Rank #1)

Selected Guidebook(s) for this Peak:
       Voices from the Mountains (Venables)

Ascent Info

Total ascents/attempts logged by registered users: 30
     Show all viewable ascents/attempts (Total: 25)

Selected Trip Reports:
     1994-01-30 by Iain Thow
     2002-12-05 by Morgan Batt
     2012-11-05 by Eric Gilbertson
     2015-01-10 by Rob Woodall
     2019-11-25 by Matt Lemke

Nearby Peak Searches:
     Radius Search - Nearest Peaks to Mount Cook
     Elevation Ladder from Mount Cook
     Prominence Ladder from Mount Cook


Although its 3754-meter elevation is very low by world standards, make no mistake: Mount Cook is one of the most impressive and daunting mountains in the world, right up there with the peaks of the Himalaya, Peruvian Andes, and the Alaska Range.

Several factors combine to make Mount Cook the impressive peak it is. The weather in the Southern Alps is usually horrible, with massive amounts of snow falling all year round. This makes for extensive glaciers and snowfields with frequent avalanches, and the alpine terrain near the peak is consequently difficult. The vertical rise of Mt. Cook is close to 3000 meters on either side of its range, making for a long and tiring approach from the lowlands unless a plane is used. Finally, the summit itself is a very steep knife edge that is what remains after the top 10 meters of the summit fell away in a massive landslide/avalanche on December 14th, 1991.

Mount Cook has three summits, all close together along the north-south trending summit ridge, with the north one (High Peak) the highest--the middle peak (3717m) and south (Low) peak (3593m) are slightly lower. Edmund Hillary made a notable first ascent on Mount Cook in his pre-Everest days. Surrounding Mount Cook on almost all sides are scores of other impressive icy giants, such as Mount Tasman, second highest mountain in New Zealand, and Mount Sefton, constantly avalanching snow down it's tremendous southeast face.

Climbing Notes:

As noted above, Mount Cook is one of the most difficult mountains to climb in the world, a suitable goal for only the most experienced and skilled mountaineers. The usual practice is to get a small plane ride to the Plateau Hut at 2200 meters, then wait there for a window of good weather, which often will not come before you run out of food. The summit climb features a lot of very steep snow and ice, culminating in the airy knife-edge of the actual summit.

As mentioned in my journal entry, during my visit to New Zealand in 1993 I discovered that guides charged US $1,400.00 to take one climber to the summit, with the guide/client ratio inflexible at 1:1 and no guarantees with regards to the horrible weather. In 2004 an experienced American climber told me that guides will not take you up Mount Cook unless they have climbed with you a great deal in the past. The best bet is to team up with a friend (two-man teams seem to be the standard on this peak), make sure you both know what you are doing, and go for it yourselves. Good luck!

Mount Cook's summit is barely visible amid a swirl of clouds in this view from Mount Ollivier, above Mount Cook town (1993-11-16).
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Prominence  Clean Prominence: 3724 m/12,218 ft
  Optimistic Prominence: 3724 m/12,218 ft
  Key Col: Pacific Ocean    0 m/0 ft
IsolationIsolation Page  (Detailed isolation information)
   Distance: 3139.11 km/1950.56 mi
   Isolation Limit Point: -71.773458, 168.62774
Nearest Higher Neighbor in the PBC database:
    Mount Adam  (S)
RangesContinent: Australia-Oceania
Range2: New Zealand (Highest Point)
Range3: Southern Alps (Highest Point)
Drainage BasinsWaitaki (HP)
Pacific-New Zealand (HP)
Pacific Ocean
IslandSouth Island (Highest Point)
OwnershipLand: Mount Cook National Park (Highest Point)
First AscentDecember 25, 1894
    Clarke, Jack
    Fyfe, Tom
    Graham, George
Data Source1:50,000 Topographic Survey Map
Dynamic Map

 Mount Cook    Other Peaks
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Other Photos

Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Matthew traversing the icy knife-edge towards the true summit. The lower false summit (where most climbers stop) is visible in the background. (2012-11-04). Photo by Eric Gilbertson.
Click here for larger-size photo.

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