Alpine Ski Touring Details Winter 2016
This is Alpine Guides flexible package for ski touring adventures amongst the remote glacial nevés of New Zealand's Aoraki Mount Cook and Westland regions. Take advantage of our expert guides’ local knowledge, while accessing the biggest glaciated mountains of the Southern Alps. Alpine Touring is perfect for small groups of skiers who want to extend their experience into the high mountains. This area has endless options for touring, from deep glacial bowls to challenging descents.
We base our tours out of the region's network of alpine huts. Your team will fly in, set up base, then head out each day to explore a new area, or move to another hut.
Please talk to us if you have a particular touring venue in mind (Centennial, Tasman, or Murchison, for example) or let your guide propose some missions based on the best combination of weather and conditions at the time of your trip.
You can sign up as an individual, or bring a team of enthusiastic friends. The dates can be tailored to suit your plans from July through early-October.
- Numerous lines in the Tasman and Murchison Glaciers
- The Mannering Glacier from Starvation Saddle
- The Aida glacier, with potential lines off Mount Sydney King and Classen Saddle.
- Numerous tours in the Darwin and Bonney Glaciers
The West Coast ski lines are also numerous, including all the passes like West Hoe Pass and Halcombe. There are also bigger mountain descents for experienced groups, with lines off the Minarets, De la Beche, La Receivier, Mt Drummond, Chancellor Dome, and more...
Early season we tend to favour venues east of the Main Divide, to catch the cold powder, and later in spring the corn snow works well on the West Coast.
Your expert NZMGA/IFMGA guide will provide as much (or as little) instruction in technical skills as your team requires - making your trip both an adventure and unique alpine learning experience...
Alpine Ski Tour Prices | Winter 2016
All prices are per-person, in NZ Dollars
Please contact us directly for pricing on trips longer than 7 days.
The maximum guide to participant ratio is normally 1 guide to 4 participants
For tours with 5 or more participants at least 2 guides are normally required.
The Alpine Tour cost includes:
- Guiding and National Park fees
- All meals (including snacks and energy bars)
- Aircraft access (helicopter or ski plane)
- Hut fees
- Local transport
- Free use of a range of technical equipment
- Local accommodation for any nights necessary during the trip
More Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Options
- For shorter tours (from 2 to 4 days) please see our Private Guiding option
- For more challenging ski descents see the Ski Mountaineering Course (SMC)
- For an unique alpine camping/touring experience see our 4-day Helicamp option
Booking Alpine Tours
We can provide a guide to work around your travel plans (subject to availability). The first step for booking is to contact us with your proposed dates.
“Walk-in” and short-notice enquiries may not be possible to fill. We recommend making reservations well in advance.
Guide to Participant Ratios
The Alpine Touring program normally runs at a maximum of a 1:4 guide/participant ratio. The objectives for your trip will dictate the ratio required - appropriate to the terrain, and the technical standard.
For an experienced team on a private tour with specific (or more challenging) objectives the ratio may be lowered to 1:2 or 1:3. Alternatively see our Ski Mountaineering Course.
With more 'relaxed' objectives we can run at a 1:5 ratio. Contact us directly about pricing for this option.
Previous high alpine mountaineering or ski touring experience is not required.
- Be at least a strong-intermediate to advanced downhill skier, comfortable off-piste
- A high level of aerobic fitness
- Be used to carrying a backpack, or skiing with backpack
Unless otherwise arranged, the trip will start at 08:30 at Alpine Guides base in Mount Cook Village, and finish at 17:00 on the last day of your trip. A morning start makes most effective use of time, allowing you to fly into the mountains by lunch time.
Alternatively we can arrange to start at 13:30, and finish at 12:00 noon on the last day, to better fit in with public bus services
With a 13:30 start it is less likely that you will fly into the mountains on the first day. Ensure you choose the right start time when booking.
If you arrive in Aoraki Mount Cook on the day before your trip begins, your guide will probably not be available. Our office staff will be happy to answer any questions you have.
Your guide(s) will look after equipment rental, and other gear requirements at the start of your trip. This takes on average 2 hours.
Possible Instruction Topics
The high mountain environment presents challenges, and safe travel requires some specialised knowledge. Depending on your level of experience you may cover some of the following instructional topics to round out your backcountry skills:
- Avalanche hazard evaluation
- Avalanche transceiver searches
- Uphill skinning technique
- Crevasse rescue
- Snow anchors
- Route finding
- Terrain analysis
- Mountain navigation
- Off-piste skiing technique
Mountain Hut Venues
Our alpine ski tours are based out of mountain huts throughout the Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland National Parks. This region provides the most extensive high-alpine backcountry skiing in NZ. Read more about mountain hut living conditions here on the FAQ.
Where your tour is based will depend on the trip length, and your objectives. Locations most often used are at the head of the Tasman (Tasman Saddle Hut, Kelman Hut) or Murchison Glaciers (Murchison Hut), Pioneer Hut at the head of the Fox Glacier, and Centennial Hut at the head of the Franz Josef Glacier.
Even after the best laid plans, on arrival we will discuss the options available (given the snow conditions and weather forecast) at the time.
Egress from the mountains
Two means of egress are available at the end of the trip: walking/skiing or flying out. Flying out is the most common choice. Please - ALWAYS BUDGET FOR A FLIGHT OUT, even if you want to ski/walk out.
1. Flying out at trip end
Most Alpine Tours fly out of the mountains. It maximises time in the mountains and avoids an extremely arduous trip that must be done inside the allocated time.
The cost of flying out is ADDITIONAL to the tour fees.
- Range of costs possible: NZ$180 to NZ$520 per-person
- Typical average cost: NZ$230 to NZ$300 per-person
2. Skiing/Walking out at trip end
Skiing (or skiing/walking) out is the most physically demanding part of a trip, and must be done inside the allocated time. In some situations (due to weather, conditions, and fitness) it may not be possible to walk out.
Your guide is the final arbiter on whether a walk out will go ahead.
Equipment and Clothing | Alpine Touring
Please let us know what gear you need to rent - including any equipment supplied free of charge.
Choosing your clothing | Seasonal Variation
Our gear lists cater for all eventualities. Sometimes you may not require everything on the equipment list. Weather and conditions when your trip starts will help determine what is needed, and your guide will help fine-tune your choices at the start of the trip.
- Always pack for cold conditions. A 4-season sleeping bag, down jacket, and heavy grade thermal layers are required.
- Temperatures, weather, and snow conditions will vary. The program is designed to work around these changes. Read about Weather & Snow Conditions, Summer and Winter.
Make a Booking
- Please ensure you have talked to us about guide availability.
- We require a deposit of NZ$1,000 and completed booking form for each person.