Alpine Ski Touring
This is Alpine Guides flexible package for ski touring adventures amongst the remote glacial névés 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 (and split-boarders!) who want to extend their experience into the high mountains. This region has endless options for touring, from deep glacial bowls to challenging descents.
We base our tours out of the area’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.
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.
Potential Tour Options
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.
How to Book
Talk to us about guide availability and your preferred dates. Advance bookings are strongly recommended for August and September.
We require a deposit of NZ$1,000 and completed booking form for each person.
“Walk-in” and short-notice enquiries may not be possible to fill.
Free use of our range of technical gear
Professional NZMGA/IFMGA mountain guide
All meals and snacks
Accommodation from day one to finish
Alpine Guides Technical Manual
Cost of flight out
Previous high alpine mountaineering or ski touring experience is not required. Minimum requirements:
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
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 Touring Details
+ 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
+ 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. 1:5 ratios are possible, depending on objectives. Contact us directly about pricing for this option.
For an experienced team with specific (or more challenging) objectives the ratio can be lowered to 1:2 or 1:3. Alternatively see our Ski Mountaineering program.
+ 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.
+ Winter Seasonality and Snow
Snow conditions and temperatures will change throughout winter. Spring (September- October) snow conditions are usually best for first-time ski tourers. Read more about winter snow and weather here on our FAQ.
+ Egress from the mountains
Two options of exiting 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, as this may not always be possible.
- 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
- 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.
+ Ski Touring and Snowboard Hire
RECOMMENDED GEAR HIRE STORES
Wanaka - MT Outdoors
Queenstown - Small Planet
We have a handful of sets of aging gear - for emergency hire only!
+ Equipment and Clothing
Please let us know what gear you need to rent - including any equipment supplied free of charge.
Our gear lists cater for all eventualities. Sometimes you may not require everything on the equipment list your guide will help you sort though your kit at the start of your trip. Weather and mountain conditions when your trip starts will help determine what is needed.
Temperatures, weather, and snow conditions will vary. The gear list is designed to work around these possibilities.
A 4-season sleeping bag, down jacket, and heavy grade thermal layers are required.