Last unclimbed face of Aoraki/Mt Cook conquered

7 November 1970

John Glasgow and Peter Gough (New Zealand Alpine Club)

Long-haired Christchurch mountaineers John Glasgow and Peter Gough became the first people known to have scaled the 2000-m Caroline Face of Aoraki/Mt Cook. They declared it a ‘triumph for the hippies’.

The Caroline Face of Aoraki/Mt Cook was the last unclimbed face of the mountain. Four climbers lost their lives in the 1960s while trying to scale it. Two of those who died, John Cousins and Michael Goldsmith, may have achieved the feat in November 1963. Their bodies emerged from the Hooker Glacier on the other side of the mountain in 1999.

New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3764 m, Aoraki/Mt Cook became a focus of early mountaineering. Although not especially high by global standards, New Zealand peaks can be challenging to climb because of their unpredictable weather and heavy snowfall.

The first party to attempt to scale Aoraki/Mt Cook in 1882 discovered the Linda Glacier route, but turned back only 60 m from the top. New Zealand climbers Tom Fyfe, George Graham and Jack Clarke finally reached the summit on Christmas Day 1894 via the difficult North Ridge.