Intro to Alpine Rock Course Details | Summer 2018-19

This course will get you out of the gym and into the mountains. The Intro to Alpine Rock is designed for climbers who want to improve and extend their outdoor rock climbing skills, with some solid and professional instruction.

We strike a balance of indulging on sport routes, and developing the skills for safe “trad” climbing - placing gear, and getting stuck into some longer routes... All set against the stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps

Climbing Venues

NZ's South Island has many great venues for rock climbing. Sebastopol Bluffs, Twin Streams, Ohau and the adventure routes in the Temple valley are all nearby our base at Mt Cook. Wanaka, Queenstown and the Remarkables are all options to sample, depending on weather and our goals.

The primary venues for the course beyond Mt Cook Village are Twin Stream in the Ben Ohau Range, and the South Temple Valley (depending on weather).

The Intro to Alpine Rock Course will help you develop judgement, and the skills necessary to push your grades on natural rock, and move on to long multi-pitch routes.

The course generally begins at Mount Cook Village, where we start training on our fantastic local crag Sebastopol Bluffs. 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 2.5 hour drive.

The course maintains flexibility to relocate to alternative areas should the weather conditions change. We can also arrange meet you to start in a location like Wanaka or Queenstown.

A good 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 guide is a qualified IFMGA or NZMGA Mountain Guide with a wealth of experience climbing, ready to share that knowledge with you.

What you will learn

Your course topics will include:

  • Natural rock climbing technique
  • Placing sport and natural protection
  • Building anchors
  • Belay systems and techniques
  • Abseiling techniques and safety
  • Introduction to lead climbing techniques
  • Multi-pitch rope management

Price and Inclusions

Course Prices


  • Guiding fees
  • Alpine Guides Technical Manual
  • All meals (including snacks and energy bars) 
  • Hut fees
  • Road transport
  • Helicopter access to Twin Streams (if used as a venue)
  • Local accommodation for any nights necessary during the course 
  • A range of technical equipment 

Experience Required

No previous rock climbing experience is necessary, as all instruction on safe climbing and belay techniques will be given. A good level of fitness is required for walking in and out of venues (sometimes 2-3 hours with pack) 

Booking a Course

The start date for the Intro Alpine Rock Course will be arranged around your travel plans, dependent on guide availability. We recommend beginning no earlier than November, for the best possible rock climbing conditions.

Please contact us directly to discuss your dates. 

Reporting Details

Unless otherwise arranged, courses begin at 08:30 in Mt Cook Village on the start date, and finish at 17:00 on the last day. Please report to Alpine Guides office in Mt Cook Village.

Accommodation can be provided in Mt Cook Village on the final night, if required 

Course Structure

No two courses are the same as we will select the most suitable venue at the time, taking into account weather and mountain conditions. Every day will be a busy one, regardless of the weather.

We usually spend the first night at Mount Cook Village before moving to camp at Twin Streams, our venue of choice.

Day 1 

After meeting your guide the first part of the day involves a comprehensive gear check, and organisation of equipment and clothing.

Food, tents, cooking equipment, ropes and technical equipment need to be prepared.

The next step is to get on to the rock at Sebastopol Bluffs to assess climbing standards, and to coach skills needed for the big climbs.

Day 2-5

 We will spend at least another half day at Sebastopol Bluffs focusing on anchors, and rope management on multi-pitch routes. Late on day 2 we aim to fly by helicopter to our campsite in Twin Stream, our home for the next 2 nights. We break camp and walk out on day 5.

The walk out to the road end takes about 2.5 hours. A helicopter pickup can be arranged (at additional cost) to save time.

After breaking down and returning gear the course will finish with a few drinks and meal at a watering hole in Mt Cook Village.

All accommodation in remote mountain areas will be tent camping. Alpine Guides will provide tents and cooking gear. bring along your own mug, bowl. and utensils, if you have them.

Sebastopol Bluffs

Climbing Venues

Sebastopol Bulls - Mt Cook Village

This is our local crag, just five minutes from our base in Mt Cook Village. The Bluffs now have well over 50 routes, with much recent attention and development. Climbs range in grade from AU14 to 23, with a great mix of sport and trad routes.

The Bluffs are north facing, so catch sun all day, and dry quickly. The views of the big peaks are unsurpassed.

Reference: "Sebastopol Bluffs Rock Climbing Guide", 2012 Edition, Alpine Guides

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 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.

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

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

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

  • 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.