Mount Owen limestone varies considerably across the areas described in this guide. The faces are generally featured with sloping blocks and edges and the odd tufa or flowstone. Rock can be prickly sharp like the ‘cauliflower’ rock on some climbs in Fyfe River Gorge, pure ‘blank’ friction like the slabs of Sanctuary Dome or razor sharp like some pitches on the marble-like walls of Staircase Crag.
More than half the climbs in this guide are in Fyfe River Gorge. Climbers have been active here for over 15 years and the Intergalactic Wall now offers some of the toughest steep limestone test pieces in New Zealand.
On the other side of the mountain accessed from Courthouse Flat are Gold Strike and Granity Pass. Gold Strike is a sport crag with some excellent qualities: good rock, full length pitches and walls that stay dry in the rain. The Main Wall makes a fine winter crag.
More than a dozen established multi-pitch climbs are covered by this guide. A handful of these are in Fyfe River Gorge but Staircase Crag up near Granity Pass offers the full package. Stay overnight in the Granity Pass DOC hut and sample the steep exposed walls of Staircase Crag as well as clean slabs of Sanctuary Dome. Go ahead and tag the summit of Mount Owen while you are up there.
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