Has anyone been over Unknown Col (between the North Mathias River and Unknown Stream) in summer conditions? Route guides describe a difficult waterfall on the Unkown Stream side as follows "downclimbing a tricky steep waterfall on the true right, this waterfall has turned some parties back and a rope may be required". What I am trying to figure out is just how difficult "difficult" is. We're not planning on taking a rope. If it is physically possible to downclimb without a rope my partner will be able to do it. I am not as confident/capable as my partner but can cope with exposure if there are reasonable hand/foot holds. An option may be to take a handline to lower packs with. Any information would be appreciated. If its a no goer there is an alternative route through Boundary Btream/Boundary Basin into Moa Stream - so we have options.
I have been over Unknown Col, from the Unknown to the Mathias. We did it in early summer (Dec-Jan), when the upper Unknown valley was full of avalanche debris - like a mini glacier providing smooth access right up to the Col. This is in complete contrast to late summer conditions (e.g. February onwards, depending on how snowy the winter & spring were), in which the Unknown creek bed is mainly clear of snow and reveals itself to be deeply incised with gorges and waterfalls. The late summer conditions are the ones that have repelled various parties. I don't know how tricky the climbing is, but I believe some quite capable trampers have turned back. Rockfall danger is probably quite high. (Judging by the millions of cubic metres of snow avalanche debris, I wouldn't go near it before all the winter and spring snowpack has fallen down). The Mathias side of Unknown Col is extremely steep. We descended it. I compare it to the Rainbow side of Rainbow Pass (Nelson Lakes); we descended both these routes on hard snow with big packs, and both were very steep, probably terrifying at the time.
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