Technical Alpine Rock Course | Summer 2016-17


This course introduces the world of exciting multi-pitch alpine rock to experienced rock climbers. The skills you develop on course will enable you to tackle multi-pitch rock climbing, at your level, anywhere in the world.

The Technical Alpine Rock course happens on serious alpine rock routes in the Southern Alps. The primary locations (depending on weather) are Twin Stream in the Ben Ohau Range, the South Temple Valley, and the Darran Mountains in Fiordland.

This course is about learning to lead and move safely in this terrain. You will develop judgement and learn the skills necessary to become self sufficient in the mountains. As soon as possible you will find yourself on the sharp end of the rope (under your guide’s watchful eye), on long multi-pitch routes.

Expect to climb a number of multi-pitch routes on to mountain summits. Basic snow craft will be taught (if necessary) as ice axe and crampons may be needed to access some climbs.

The course usually begins at Mount Cook Village, but we can meet you at Wanaka or Queenstown if more convenient. Then we relocate by vehicle to the most suitable venue (given weather and mountain conditions). This can involve anything from a 15 minute drive (and short helicopter flight) into Twin Stream - up to a 5.5 hour drive to the Darrans (if the weather is fine in Fiordland). By travelling in a group vehicle the course maintains flexibility to relocate to alternative areas should the weather conditions change.

A high level of fitness is required as it may be necessary at times to carry heavy packs containing both camping gear and food, plus a full rack of technical gear and ropes.

Your Rock Guide

Our Technical Alpine Rock program is guided by IFMGA or full NZMGA Climbing Guides who are passionate about introducing climbers to long routes, with quality rock - especially in locations like the Darran Mountains (Fiordland).

What you will learn

Your course will include:

  • Lead climbing
  • Placing natural protection
  • Building anchors
  • Belay systems and techniques
  • Sports climbing—push yourself to your limit!
  • Multi-pitch rope management
  • Double rope technique
  • Multiple abseil descents and safety
  • Moving together on rock
  • Rock rescue techniques and systems
  • Aid climbing
  • Mountain weather and navigation
  • Basic snow craft may also be covered if necessary

Price and Inclusions | Summer 2015/16

All prices are per-person and in New Zealand Dollars.


  • 10 days guiding fees
  • Alpine Guides Technical Manual
  • All meals (including snacks and energy bars) 
  • Hut fees
  • Road transport
  • Local accommodation for any nights necessary during the course 
  • A range of technical equipment 

Experience Required

Each Alpine Rock course will be tailored to suit your specific requirements, with regard to climbing experience, and aspirations.

  • Minimum experience: Comfortable leading at least AU grade 16 bolted (sport) routes

Placing of natural protection is not a prerequisite. This will be covered extensively on the course. A high level of fitness is essential on this course.

Stu topping out on Moirs Mate, Fiordland.

Booking a Course

The start date for the Technical Alpine Rock Course will be arranged around your travel plans, dependent on guide availability. We recommend beginning in January, or later, for the best possible rock climbing conditions. Please contact us directly to discuss your date options

Reporting Details

Unless otherwise arranged Technical Alpine Rock courses begin at 08:30 at Alpine Guides office in Mt Cook Village on the start date, and finish at 17:00 on the last day. Accommodation can be provided in Mt Cook village on the final night, if required

Alpine Rock Course Venues

Your guide will select the most suitable venue at the time, taking into account weather and mountain conditions. These courses typically turn into a bit of a road trip, visiting a number of different climbing locations. The main choices will be one of the following:

The Darran Mountains are the first choice for most Kiwi alpine rock climbers, both for the quality of the rock and for the stunning alpine scenery. These mountains are situated in Fiordland overlooking Milford Sound in the south west of the South Island.

The rock is primarily diorite and is wonderful to climb on, being very coarse and solid. Because of the hardness of the rock the glacial origins of the landscape are very much in evidence with incredibly sheer walled U-shape valleys, sprinkled with small lakes and tarns. All of this is crowned by snow-capped, glaciated summits.

Accommodation is at the NZAC Homer Hut, which is right beside the Milford road. Many climbs are accessible as day trips from this hut, but the course is likely to bivouac some time.

Reference: "The Darran Mountains", Craig Jeffries, 2nd Edition, 2006, NZ Alpine Club

Twin Stream, Ben Ohau Range

Twin stream is located in the Ben Ohau range only 15 minutes drive from Mt Cook. At the head of the valley is an alpine crag with routes up to 300m long. There is an idyllic campsite at the very base of the climbs.

Access is via a short helicopter ride from Glentanner station and a walk out to the road (2.5 – 3 hours) at the end of the trip. Helicopter access costs for Twin Stream are included in the course fees.

Reference: "Barron Saddle – Mt Brewster", Ross Cullen, 2nd Edition, NZ Alpine Club

South Temple Valley

The south temple valley is a tributary of the Hopkins Valley. This is a one hour drive from Mt Cook Village. At the very head of the valley are 2 stunning rock peaks: Mount Bruce and Steeple Peak. These mountains have a number of routes on them, ideal for someone embarking on alpine rock.The routes are 10-12 pitches long.

It is a 4-5 hour walk to the campsite near the climbs. This venue can be used in conjunction with others, to provide a "grand finalé" to 10 busy days.

Reference: "Barron Saddle – Mt Brewster", Ross Cullen, 2nd Edition, NZ Alpine Club

Other areas that may be used:
  • The Remarkables (Queenstown)
  • Chinamans bluff (Glenorchy)
  • Arthurs Pass
  • Single pitch rock climbing crags will also be used in order to maximize the use of time around the weather.

Course Structure

Every day will be a busy one, regardless of the weather. Initially equipment will be sorted, and travel to the mountain venue will take place. The next step is to get on to the rock to assess participants climbing standards, and to coach skills needed for the big climbs.

Natural protection, anchors and rope management is a major focus at this stage of the course. Once all participants have the necessary skills, the rest of the course is spent climbing and learning on real multi-pitch routes.

On bad weather days, if there is really no chance of being on the rock, time will be used to teach other related (and necessary) mountain skills. Be prepared to be immersed in everything to do with rock for the duration!

Equipment and Clothing | Technical Alpine Rock

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

Book online here using a credit card or by bank deposit.

  • 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.