Traverse of the Mitre (East-West). On July 19, 1944, Peter Vallance and the writer made the ascent to the Mitre by the usual route, climbing unroped. Time from A.C.C. Camp,, 2 h. 55 m.
We started descending by the large couloir to the S. to a point immediately above 50- ft. cliffs formed by a brown band of rock, which forms the “seat” of the “armchair.” (Two buttresses jutting out in a southwesterly direction connected at the base by this 50- ft. rock band provide the semblance for the “chair”). A descent of these cliffs proved difficult as the lower twenty ft. are overhanging. No suitable belay could be found for rappelling. After lowering Vallance, I descended to a point about twenty ft. above the base of the cliffs and found it necessary to jump on to the snow-covered scree slope below. From this point we descended by a series of rock ledges to the top of the 500-ft. cliffs which skirt the base of the mountain from the E. face right around to the Lefroy-Mitre col. (After considerable investigation a steep rock couloir on the S.W. face seemed the most likely route. There were, however, two points in the couloir which could not be seen from above. These subsequently proved to be overhangs and had it not been for the solid nature of the rock at these points, would have been impossible to negotiate. The couloir was very steep; holds were small but good, and because of its steepness there was very little loose rock in the more difficult pitches. There were no suitable places for belaying, hence rappelling without pitons, which we lacked, was not possible. Vallance climbed down the full extent of the rope, and when a suitable stance was found, the writer followed. The couloir debouched at the extreme tip of the E. lateral moraine of the Horseshoe Glacier.
This is a very exacting climb and should not be attempted by more than two in the party. Danger of falling rock and lack of suitable stances make it long and tedious. The descent was made In 5.5 h.