NZ Expeditions | FAQ
Answers to questions about Alpine Guides NZ "Expeditions", including Mt Cook, Tasman, and Aspiring
- Why are the New Zealand Expeditions so long?
- Can I book a guide at short notice?
- What if I summit early in the trip?
- Why do Alpine Guides guide the Linda Glacier route on Aoraki/Mt Cook?
Compared to continental alpine areas (e.g. European Alps) guided climbs in NZ are longer. This is mostly due to weather.
New Zealand has a temperate maritime climate. The geography of the Southern Alps creates variable and vigorous alpine weather. Consider that the summit of Mt Cook at 3,754 metres is less than 20 kilometres from the Tasman Sea. Sudden and severe storms are common.
Trip length is a compromise for the unpredictable nature of Southern Alps weather, and allowing time to get in and out from your mountain venue.
A longer trip increases the chances of making a successful summit. Short duration trips may be seriously affected by bad weather.
Usually this is not possible, but last minute places can open up. Most of our guests come from overseas, so bookings are generally made well in advance.
There is a limited number of suitably qualified guides for the big peaks, and we have high demand over the months of December and January. This limits the number of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman climbs we can offer.
If you've booked for a 5, 6, or 7-day trip, your guide is obliged to look after you for the entire period.
If you make your objective early, you can stay in the mountains and attempt other peaks if time allows. If you choose to leave early - no problem - but there will not be a refund as your guide is still obliged to be paid.
The Linda Glacier route and its relative hazards are described in the Aoraki/Mount Cook Expedition detailed notes. Around 80% of all ascents (and 90% of descents), both guided and recreational, use the Linda Glacier route.
The Linda Glacier is the most straight-forward route, and offers the best chance to reach the high peak. The Linda Glacier route is always challenging, and not to be underestimated.
Objective Hazard | Linda Glacier Route
There is some objective hazard on the Linda Glacier route. We will stop guiding this route if the hazard increases, or if later in the season the route forces climbers too close to more undesirable zones. Alpine Guides is almost always the first company to stop guiding the Linda when crevassing becomes difficult to navigate and hazard increases.
Approaches from Hooker Valley & Empress Hut
Other guiding companies offer a point of differentiation, by climbing Mt Cook from the Hooker Valley - using Empress Hut. What is not normally mentioned is that you only climb to the Low or Middle peak from the Hooker side of Mt Cook.
Arguably, the objective hazard from rock and icefall getting to Empress Hut and Porters Col is at least the same level as in the Linda Glacier.
You cannot fly into Empress hut, and the weather has to be good to walk there. The first 2 days of fine weather will be used in carrying heavy packs. Those 2 days may be the climbing window you need for the summit attempt...
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