FAQ - Before your trip

This section lists useful reading resources and details to think about before starting your trip.

References and Reading Material

The following resources may be useful for your Alpine Guides mountaineering trip, but the reading is not “required”.

Climbing Guide Books

  • Aoraki/Mount Cook: a Guide for Mountaineers, Alex Palman, , NZ Alpine Club 2001
  • The Mount Aspiring Region, Allen Uren and John Cocks, NZ Alpine Club 2009
  • Barron Saddle to Mt Brewster Guidebook, Ross Cullen, 2nd Edition, NZ Alpine Club 2002
  • New Zealand Backcountry Skiing, James Broadbent, 1st Edition, NZ Alpine Club 2004 (Out of print - new edition due 2016)

Technical References

  • Alpine Guides Technical Manual, Alpine Guides, 2014 edition
  • Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, 8th Edition, Mountaineers Books, 2010
  • Alpine Skills Manual, NZ Mountain Safety Council 2005
  • Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast, and High, Mark Twight, Mountaineers Books 1999
  • Ice and Mixed Climbing: Modern Technique, Will Gad, Mountaineers Books 2003
  • Climbing Ice, Yvon Chouinard, Random House 1982 (a classic, may be hard to find)

Winter-specific / Avalanche Safety

  • Free Riding in Avalanche Terrain, J. Bruce Jamieson, Canadian Avalanche Association 1999
  • Snow sense - a guide to evaluating snow avalanche hazard, Jill Fredston and Doug Fesler, Anchorage, Alaska, 1994
  • The Avalanche Handbook, P. A. Schaerer and Peter Schaerer, Mountaineers Books 3rd edition 2006
  • The ABC’s of Avalanche Safety, Sue A Ferguson and Ed LaChappelle, Mountaineers Books; 3rd Rev edition 2003
  • Backcountry Avalanche Awareness, Bruce Jamieson, Canadian Avalanche Association, 2001
  • Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, Bruce Tremper, Mountaineers Books, 2nd edition, 2008

General Texts

  • "The New Zealand Weather Book", Erick Bernstrum, Craig Potton Press, 1998

Food and Eating Well

Fueling your body is important in this demanding environment. Alpine Guides provide high-quality fresh food for every trip we run. Your guide will order food in advance of your trip, and will plan tasty, enjoyable meals.

Please make a note of what you like (or don't like) to eat on your booking form. Most dietary regimes can be catered for. If you have a specialised diet please be detailed.

We provide snacks and energy bars. Dehydrated meals are used infrequently - usually only in bivouac situations.

First Aid Kit and Toiletries

In addition to technical gear and clothing it is your responsibility to bring any medication you require. There is no pharmacy at Mount Cook (the nearest one is 70 kms away). Please mark on your booking form any relevant medical history.


Keep toiletries you take into the mountains to the absolute minimum. Leave your hair dryer at home... Please bring along:

  • Towel or pack-towel for accommodation out of the mountains
  • Good quality sunscreen (SPF 50 recommended)
  • Lip cream with sunscreen
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Moisturising cream
  • Soap or sanitising gel
  • Cleansing wipes

First Aid Kit

Your guide will carry a full first aid kit. You need a basic first-aid kit for bumps, cuts, and bruises. This should include:

  • Band-aids
  • Painkillers
  • Elasticised bandage
  • Waterproof strapping tape to prevent blisters
  • “Second Skin” or similar for blisters and tender skin
  • Any personal medication required
  • Gear Storage at Mount Cook

    We store your extra belongings not required in the mountains.

    Items will either be stored at our office, or our gear lock-up located at Unwin Lodge accommodation. Please label your bags carefully. Smaller items of value (wallets, passports, etc) will be placed in our office safe.

    Vehicles can be parked at Unwin Lodge, or we can park them at our staff accommodation.

    Money - what to bring

    Make sure you bring some some spare cash on your visit to Mt Cook. There is no ATM at Aoraki Mount Cook, and no bank. Retailers and cafes accept EFTPOS and credit cards. International visitors: your ATM/debit cards will only work at ATM machines in NZ - not at EFTPOS terminals.

    Weather Disruptions

    Occasionally trips can be disrupted by bad weather. This is usually because aircraft cannot fly, delaying your flight into the mountains. If possible please allow an extra day in your travel plans so that your program can be extended, if necessary.

    If your trip is seriously affected by bad weather we can offer credit on a future program with Alpine Guides. This is at the company’s discretion.

    With all of our courses and mountaineering trips involving flights, we aim to fly into the mountains at the first opportunity. However, due to weather in an alpine situation, we are sometimes delayed. In these cases we will make effective use of your time, working on training, theory, and rope work.