Mixed Climbing Course
Alpine Guides' Mixed Climbing Course is a 5-day advanced 'winter' mountaineering course with a focus on steeper, technical terrain. Our venue of choice is the awesome Grand Plateau, based from Plateau Hut on the flanks of Mount Cook itself.
On this course you will gain “hands-on” technical climbing experience in steep terrain, consolidating the core skills you already have.
Climbing in winter conditions is challenging. Cool conditions and the winter snowpack potentially complicate approaches. To reach objectives you may need to cross a glacier, cope with deep powder at the foot of a route, transition into an ice-filled gully, then traverse out on to an uncertain rock rib...
Instruction topics focus on route choices, tool placement, anchor building/placement and problem solving – with the aim of turning you into a competent and well-rounded alpinist. The MCC focuses on technical, committing routes, so it offers perfect preparation for future, more serious objectives with a guide, such as our Technical Mountaineering Course, or as training for attempting a major peak such as Mount Aspiring (by the SW ridge) or Aoraki Mount Cook.
The Mixed Climbing Course is perfect for:
People who have attended a summer mountaineering course, similar to the Alpine Skills Course.
For those with good rock climb and/or water ice skills but lesser alpine experience.
For rock climbers looking to transition into the alpine or for people training for long term mountaineering objectives.
What you will learn
Ice and snow/ice gully climbing
Steep rock climbing
Multi pitch “speed up” tips and use of terrain features for safety
Natural protection and revision of appropriate snow/ice anchors
Climbing on varied terrain in winter boots and crampons (some climbs may be in rockshoes in the village)
Transitions between snow/ice and rock
Route selection and approach strategies
Problem solving and self and team rescue
Retreat and extraction skills and techniques
Revision of glacier travel and crevasse rescue, as venue required
Introduction to avalanche theory
Winter gear and equipment, what to bring and how to use it
Winter trip planning and preparation
Hut management, food preparation
Private courses are available and ideal if our scheduled dates do not work for you, or it you want to relax the maximum guide to participant ratio - based on your objectives and experience. Contact us for details.
The MCC is a technical climbing course and a perfect extension to the skills learned on our summer Alpine Skills Course.
Previous alpine experience is expected
A high level of aerobic fitness is required
Rock climbing to AU Rock Grade 15 or water ice WI3
We understand that no 2 people have the same backgrounds. Please get in touch to discuss your experience prior to booking, and also consider a private course option.
The MCC is based primarily at Plateau Hut in New Zealand's most dramatic alpine area - Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. In order to make optimum use of time available, the course will fly in and out from the hut site at 2,200 metres.
Plateau is a modern, comfortable hut and usually not busy in the spring. It sits at 2,200 metres bolted to a rock outcrop above the vast 1,000 metre Hochstetter Icefall. Aside from glaciated training zones, It offers various climbing options:
East Ridge of Mt Dixon
The East ridge of Mt Dixon has a wide number of training venues with steep gullies with snow, ice and rock, of 2-4 pitches, that can be used to "up-skill" at different levels. Rap bolts are in place in some areas.
Glacier Dome is closer to the hut and has shorter routes, from 1-3 pitches of snow, ice and rock. Guides often used as a training venue for Mount Cook climbs and testing guests before stepping foot on Mt Cook.
The Anzacs have a number of great face and ridge travel climbing options. Routes range from 3-5 pitches but often need “moving together” skills to complete the climb. A mixture of snow, ice and rock options exist.
Alternative Venue Options
We have a number of alternate venues based on current snow/ice conditions and weather.
If we face a prolonged storm in the high mountains our 2nd venue of choice is normally the Remarkables, close to Queenstown. The Remarkables Range is non-glaciated but known for its easily accessible multi-pitched mixed climbing. It can escape the worst winter storms being situated further east.
In case of a relocation to the Remarkable, Alpine Guides will provide transport, camping gear and other accommodation required throughout the trip. If we use the Remarkables venue a refund of NZ$300 per-person will be applied (except for bookings of 1 person on a scheduled course which is reduced to 4 days).
Mixed Climbing Course Details
+ Course Itinerary
When dealing with a dynamic environment it is not realistic to advertise fixed day-to-day schedules which can easily be disrupted by weather. Instead, we work around prevailing weather and snow conditions to provide the most comprehensive coverage of all the course topics. This makes each course unique. Here is one potential breakdown for an Mixed Climbing Course.
Meet your guide and crew Mt Cook Village. Run through plans, the weather, snow conditions and sort and check gear. Fly to Plateau Hut or relocate to an alternate location.
Day 2 Work on revision of known skills and progress towards multi-pitch protocols as well as natural protection/trad anchors. Climbing a couple of routes to get into the swing.
Day 3-4 Start to step the intensity up a bit, introducing some of the more complex scenarios, such as crampons on rock or ice/rock combined climbing, as well as rescue or problem solving strategies.
Day 5 Early morning we have a last ditch climb then exit to Mount Cook Village for a debrief and meal at local watering hole.
+ Maximum and Minimum Bookings
Maximum Bookings: All MCC courses are limited to a maximum of 4 participants. The maximum guide to participant ratio is 1:2. Course pricing is based on a minimum of 2 participants.
Minimum Bookings: We require a minimum of 2 people to run a scheduled course.
- One person only: a 4-day trip will be offered but at a venue not using aircraft access (walk-in/out only).
Alternatively you have the option of cancelling the trip for a full refund.
We believe that shortening courses with low numbers, rather than cancelling them is the best service we can offer. This minimises any effects on your travel plans, and still provides a great mountaineering experience.
+ Why take a course at Aoraki Mount Cook?
Because Alpine Guides is based in Mount Cook National Park, you will not be driven for hours to and from your starting point. We are right amongst the action.
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park offers:
- Some of NZ's highest peaks (some over 3,000 metres) from NZ Alpine Grade 1 through 3 and beyond.
- Snow and ice, mixed, and alpine rock peaks to test your mettle.
- Ice climbing on the glacial seracs in summer.
- More settled weather than the neighbouring West Coast
+ Aircraft Use
We fly the course in and out from your mountain venue, by helicopter or ski plane. The price is included in the course fees. This avoids an arduous 2 day walk in (and a 1 to 1.5 day walk out) and maximises climbing opportunities.
+ Equipment and Clothing
Please download the gear list and let us know what 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 dduring the gear-sort at the start of your course.
The weather and general 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 changes.