Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

The climb to Mt Phililstine (1967m) provides an adventurous alpine walking experience with fabulous views, including those of nearby Mt Rolleston.

Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass

One of the more gnarly walks in Arthur’s Pass National Park, the climb to Mt Philistine (1967m) from Otira Valley provides an adventurous walking experience through rugged terrain. It was our first time to climb a glaciated mountain, and there are excellent of the Rolleston Glacier on the mountain’s southern slopes, of nearby Mt Rolleston (2275m), and of many other peaks and valleys in Arthur’s Pass.

The crux of the route is considered the scramble up through Warnock Bluffs, but in perfect autumn conditions this section was quite okay. You’ll need a head for heights though, and this route is not recommended in winter or poor visibility. Loose rock towards the top of the mountain proved more of a challenge for us, and I fell as I was leaving the summit and fractured a couple of ribs, although I didn’t realise it at the time. 

There’s more info on the route in my track notes at the end. If you are just wanting a short walk up a very picturesque valley then going to the bridge and track end makes for a very pleasant walk.

Mt Philistine from Otira Valley: The Scenery

Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
The Otira Valley in early morning light.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Flat light in the morning as we ascended above Warnock Bluffs. Mt Rolleston to the left.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Looking east.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Out target, Mt Philistine, lies ahead.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
The Rolleston Glacier from a small saddle before the final climb to the summit.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Arriving at the summit.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Mt Armstrong (2110m)
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
A jumble of rocky topography to the north-west.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
A panorama north-east.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
My favourite picture of Mt Rolleston for the day, with the Rolleston Glacier below.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Leaving the summit.

Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass

Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Our route down.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Bluffs on the east ridge.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
This doesn’t look like much on the map but was a nice feature of the walk.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Mt Rolleston and the ridge to Mt Philistine to the right.

Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass

Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Mt Rolleston (2275m)
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Successfully descending through Warnock Bluffs.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Sophia takes a last look up the Otira Valley before we descended back to the track.
Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
Looking east across the highway back near the start.

Track Notes

Mt Philistine from Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass
There’s a track to the bridge over the Otira River. From there there is an impact track up through scree and tussock to Warnock Bluffs. You choose your own route through the bluffs but you can make out roughly where others have gone before you. After the bluffs it’s off track keeping to the north of the east ridge until near the top, with a final scramble to reach the summit.

There’s a track as far as the bridge over the Otira River. From there an a couple of cairns mark the way through a rocky section, then you follow an impact track up through scree and tussock to Warnock Bluffs. You choose your own route through the bluffs but you can make out roughly where others have gone before you. After the bluffs it’s off track keeping to the north of the east ridge until near the top, with a final scramble to reach the summit.

You can also head north and bit and ascend to the summit along the north ridge. We took this route on the way down but found it very steep and loose near the summit and this is where I had my fall. I think the east ridge is a better way up and down despite requiring a bit more climbing, because the rock is more solid. Either way care is required. 

There’s 1100m of ascent and descent and the walk will take you roughly 6-8 hours. The route through Warnock Bluffs is considered dangerous in winter and poor visibility. 

 

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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