Ski Mountaineering is Alpine Guides' premier big-mountain ski program. The 6-day trip is based deep in the glaciated mountains of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, generally in the Tasman Saddle area. With 3 huts and endless ski options, this is New Zealand’s best ski mountaineering playground. What can be achieved depends on your experience, fitness, and tenacity, and we tailor each trip to suit the team, or individual. This can be descents from major peaks, big faces, couloirs, or long, long cruises.
Safety in the mountains is our primary concern, and snow conditions at the time will ultimately dictate which lines are possible.
Objective - Big Descents
Ski Mountaineering is about big mountain skiing objectives, from the peaks, big faces, couloirs, and glacial bowls throughout the upper Tasman and Murchison area of Mt Cook National Park.
Our experienced IFMGA/NZMGA guides intimate knowledge of the area is unsurpassed. Being full-time in Mount Cook, Alpine Guides’ logistical support is unbeatable. As well as the amazing big-mountain lines, our guides can help you to develop your technique, taking you to a new personal level of backcountry skiing, avalanche safety, route-finding, and general mountain awareness.
The ski options are endless from our base at Tasman Saddle; from steep and deep, to long and cruisy. We tailor each trip based on the strength of the party and snow conditions at the time.
Some of the trips can include:
Ski from Hochsetter Dome
Murchison Headwall descent to Murchison Hut
Mt Hamilton, Bonney Glacier, and Turnbull Glaciers (700 m + lines)
Starvation Saddle and Mannering Glacier,
Mount Cooper (800 m + lines)
Elie De Beaumont at 3,109 metres (1,000 m +)
The options are endless for adventurous skiers
Guiding and National Park fees
Alpine Guides Technical Manual
All meals and snacks from lunch day one to lunch on day 6
Aircraft access flight
A range of technical equipment
Local accommodation for any nights necessary during the course (and the final night)
Exit flight costs (if required)
Accomodation and meals outside trip dates
Booking a Trip
Contact us about your preferred dates. All bookings are subject to guide availability.
We quire a deposit of NZ$1,000 and completed booking form for each person.
Ski Mountaineering is designed to accommodate a range of abilities. Mountaineering experience is not essential, but some previous touring in glaciated terrain is ideal. Our guides know the terrain intimately and will show your group the best lines. There are challenges aplenty.
High level of aerobic fitness
Strong-intermediate to advanced skier (ski black and double black ski area runs, in control - with confidence)
Experience skiing with a backpack is useful
Ski Mountaineering Details
+ Itinerary / Organisation
When dealing with a dynamic mountain environment it is not realistic to plan fixed day-to-day schedules. Instead we work around prevailing weather and snow conditions to provide the best use of your time as possible. There is no typical day on a Ski Mountaineering trip, each trip is unique, and every day offers a new adventure.
On the first morning you will meet your teammates and guide at our base in Mt Cook. You will learn about the current snow conditions and discuss plans for the week.
After an equipment check, you fly in at the first possible opportunity. Expect to be in the mountains for up to 5 nights of the trip.
The first few days typically involve easier descents, letting your guide assess your technique, and allowing for some instruction. As you progress the focus shifts more to ascents, and big descents.
Days begin at around 07:00, or earlier. The day's activities will have you out for 8 to 10 hours. Your guide will attempt to maximise all fine weather and good conditions.
On any poor weather days expect to cover some theory and use instruction venues closer to the hut.
We aim to have you back in Mount Cook village by mid-afternoon on the final day. After 6 days of remarkable skiing and incredible descents there will be a few tales to tell over dinner at a local watering hole.
+ Mountain Hut Venues
Ski Mountaineering is based out of remote mountain huts, usually either at the head of the Tasman or Murchison Glaciers. In order to optimise time available, the trip will fly in.
Some trips may opt to take camping/bivvy gear if the weather forecast and objectives dictate.
Depending on weather and conditions, we reserve the right to modify the trip and use other venues. This can include Pioneer Hut at the head of the Fox Glacier or Centennial Hut at the head of the Franz Josef Glacier.
+ Egress from the mountains
Two options of egress are available at the end of the trip: walking/skiing or flying out.
The cost of flying out is an additional cost. We do not include the flight out cost so as to provide an option for those who wish to ski/walk out some or all the way.
However, because of the aruous walk/ski out from most loications, flying out is by far the most common option. Please - always budget for a flight out, even if you initailly want to ski/walk out.
- 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.
Range of costs possible: NZ$200 to NZ$600 per-person (with 2 or more participants).
Typical average cost: NZ$250 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
If you need ski/snowboard gear, you should hire your rig prior to arrival. We have a handful of sets of aging gear - for emergency hire only!
RECOMMENDED GEAR HIRE STORES
Wanaka - MT Outdoors
Queenstown - Small Planet Sports
+ 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.