Mixed Climbing Course Details

Alpine Guides' Mixed Climbing Course is a 5-day advanced 'winter' mountaineering course with a focus on steeper, technical terrain. Our venue of choice is the awesome Grand Plateau, based from Plateau Hut on the flanks of Mount Cook itself.

Climbing in winter conditions is challenging, with cool conditions and the winter snowpack potentially complicating approaches. You will gain “hands-on” technical climbing experience in steep terrain, consolidating the core skills you already have.

To reach objectives you may need to cross a glacier, cope with deep powder at the foot of a route, transition into an ice-filled gully, then traverse out on to an uncertain rock rib...

Instruction topics focus on route choices, tool placement, anchor building/placement and problem solving – with the aim of turning you into a competent and well-rounded alpinist!

Who is this Course for?

The Mixed Climbing Course (MCC) is for people who have attended a summer mountaineering instruction course, similar to our Alpine Skills Course, or for those with good rock climbing and/or water-ice skills, but lesser alpine experience.

The MCC focuses on technical, committing routes, so it offers perfect preparation for future, more serious objectives with a guide, such as our Technical Mountaineering Course, or as training for attempting a major peak such as Mount Aspiring (by the SW ridge) or Aoraki Mount Cook.

On scheduled courses, because of the technical nature of the climbing the maximum guide participant ratio is 1:2.

Experience Required

The MCC is a technical climbing course and a perfect extension to the skills learned on our summer Alpine Skills Course.
  • Previous alpine experience is expected
  • A high level of aerobic fitness is required
  • Rock climbing to AU Rock Grade 15 or water ice  WI3

We understand that no 2 people have the same backgrounds. Please get in touch to discuss your experience prior to booking, and also consider the private course option.

Read more about fitness for mountaineering here.

What You Will Learn

You will learn safe, modern techniques for climbing on snow, ice and alpine rock. All training is by our professional IFMGA/NZMGA guides.

The strength of our climbing school is 'Alpine Guides' philosophy of striking a balance between instruction of techniques, and practical application - in realistic situations.

The emphasis is on education, travel on, and awareness of all types of mountain terrain, not just purely technical climbing. We believe this is the most important element of your “mountain education”.

Aircraft access is used to optimise the climbing time available. This also allows us to reach exceptionally good instructional venues, and reduces heavy load carrying. Each day’s activities will usually run for 8 hours, although longer and more strenuous days can be involved.

Specific topics covered on The course include:

  • Ice and snow/ice gully climbing
  • Steep rock climbing
  • Multi pitch “speed up” tips and use of terrain features for safety
  • Natural protection and revision of appropriate snow/ice anchors
  • Climbing on varied terrain in winter boots and crampons (some climbs may be in rockshoes in the village) 
  • Transitions between snow/ice and rock
  • Route selection and approach strategies
  • Problem solving and self and team rescue
  • Retreat and extraction skills and techniques
  • Revision of glacier travel and crevasse rescue, as venue required
  • Introduction to avalanche theory
  • Winter gear and equipment, what to bring and how to use it
  • Winter trip planning and preparation
  • Hut management, food preparation

Private Courses

Scheduled course runs at a low, maximum 1:2 guide to participant ratio. However, private courses allow us to 'build' trips for one or more people. The guide/participant ratio is tailored to you and your team's objectives, around your skill levels. This may be at a 1:2, 1:3, or as high as 1:4 guide to participant ratio.  Higher ratios will affect what routes and lines are chosen by your guide.

If your alpine skills are minimal and you just want a more generalised winter climbing course, we can relax guide participant ratios up to a maximum 1:4 ratio.

Private Courses allow you to choose dates and tailor the content to your specific requirements, subject to guide availability.

The first step in booking a private course is to talk with us about your background and potential dates.

Prices and Inclusions

Scheduled Course Cost: NZ$3,150 per person
Private Course Costs  - 5 days 
  • 1 person $5,250 (1:1 ratio)
  • 2 people $3,150 (1:2 ratio)
  • 3 people $2,350 (1:3 ratio)
  • 4 people $1,900 (1:4 ratio)

All prices are per-person, in NZ Dollars and include GST at 15% The course fee includes:

  • Alpine Guides Technical Manual
  • All meals from lunch on day one (including snacks and energy bars)
  • Aircraft flights into and out of the mountains
  • Hut fees
  • National Park fees
  • Local transport
  • Free use of a range of technical equipment
  • Local accommodation for any nights necessary during the course

Maximum and Minimum Bookings on Scheduled Courses

All scheduled courses are limited to a maximum of 4 participants. The maximum guide to participant ratio is 1:2. Course pricing is based on a minimum of 2 participants.

Minimum Bookings

We require at least 2 participants to run scheduled courses.

One Person Only: a 4-day trip will be offered but at a venue not using aircraft access (walk-in/out only).

Alternatively you have the option of cancelling the trip for a full refund.

We believe that shortening courses with low numbers, rather than cancelling them is the best service we can offer. This minimises any effects on your travel plans, and still provides a great mountaineering experience.

Smaller teams can cover instruction topics more quickly and efficiently than a larger group.

Reporting Details

All MCCs begin at 08:30 on day one and finish at 17:00 on the final day. Please report to Alpine Guides office in Mt Cook Village.

Check on public transport options to Mount Cook.

Climbing Venues

The MCC is based primarily at Plateau Hut in New Zealand's premium alpine area - Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. In order to make optimum use of time available, the course will fly  in and out from the hut site at 2,200 metres.

Read more about mountain hut living conditions.

Plateau is a modern, comfortable hut and usually not busy in the spring. It sits at 2,200 metres bolted to a rock outcrop above the vast 1,000 metre Hochstetter Icefall. Aside from glaciated training zones, It offers various climbing options:

Mixed climbing zones at Grand Plateau.

East Ridge of Mt Dixon 

The East ridge of Mt Dixon has a wide number of training venues with steep gullies with snow, ice and rock, of 2-4 pitches, that can be used to "up-skill" at different levels. Rap bolts are in place in some areas.

Glacier Dome 

Glacier Dome is closer to the hut and has shorter routes, from 1-3 pitches of snow, ice and rock. Guides often used as a training venue for Mount Cook climbs and testing clients before stepping foot on Mt Cook.

The Anzacs

The Anzacs have a number of great face and ridge travel climbing options. Routes range from 3-5 pitches but often need “moving together” skills to complete the climb. A mixture of snow, ice and rock options exist.

Alternative Venue Options

We have a number of alternate venues based on current snow/ice conditions and weather.

If we face a prolonged storm in the high mountains our 2nd venue of choice is normally the Remarkables, close to Queenstown. The Remarkables Range is non-glaciated but known for its easily accessible multi-pitched mixed climbing. It can escape the worst winter storms being situated further east.

In case of a relocation to the Remarkable, Alpine Guides will provide transport, camping gear and other accommodation required throughout the trip.

If we use the Remarkables venue a refund of NZ$300 per-person will be applied (except for bookings of 1 person on a scheduled course which is reduced to 4 days).

Course Daily Organisation

When dealing with a dynamic environment it is not realistic to advertise fixed day-to-day schedules which can easily be disrupted by weather. Instead, we work around prevailing weather and snow conditions to provide the most comprehensive coverage of all the course topics. This makes each course unique.

Here is one a potential breakdown for an MCC:

Day one: Meet your guide and crew Mt Cook Village. Run through plans, the weather, snow conditions and sort and check gear. Fly to Plateau Hut or relocate to an alternate location.

Day 2: Work on revision of known skills and progress towards multi-pitch protocols as well as natural protection/trad anchors. Climbing a couple of routes to get into the swing.

Days 3-4: Start to step the intensity up a bit, introducing some of the more complex scenarios, such as crampons on rock or ice/rock combined climbing, as well as rescue or problem solving strategies.

Day 5: Early morning we have a last ditch climb then exit to Mount Cook Village for a debrief and meal at local watering hole.

Egress from the mountains

Flying out maximises time spent on climbing and instruction and avoids an extremely arduous trip that otherwise must be done inside the course time.

The cost of flying out is built into the course price. There is no additional cost to you.

Read more about walking out.

Equipment and Clothing

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.

Temperatures, weather, and snow conditions will vary. The program is designed to work around these changes.

Read more about seasonality, weather, and snow conditions here.

Make a Booking

We require a deposit of NZ$1,000 and completed booking form for each person.

For private course please ensure you have talked to us about dates and guide availability.