Winter Mountain Skills
This is an Alpine Guides 4-day winter introductory climbing course, delivering essential knowledge for hikers, hunters, and trampers. The Winter Mountain Skills course, based in the serious alpine setting of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, is designed for fit people with outdoor experience who want to learn to travel safely on foot above the snow line in winter. Course topics focus on crampon, ice axe and snowshoe use, self-arrest, route selection and terrain traps, navigation and emergency shelter building – the importance of standing on a peak is never forgotten!
What you will learn?
Equipment & clothing for winter - what to bring and how to use it
Axe, crampon, and snowshoeing technique and self-arrest
Route finding & terrain traps
Snow shelter construction
Mountain weather forecasting
Introduction to snow safety and avalanche assessment
Dealing with hypothermia
Basic rope use
Skills you should have after the course
Confidence traveling on snow using snow shoes or crampons
Ability to construct emergency snow shelters
Avoid /treat hypothermia
Identify avalanche risks
Navigation in a white-out
Use an avalanche transceiver
Booking a Course
Winter Mountain Skills programs can be arranged right though winter. Ideal for a small group of friends, we will tailor the program to meet your specific objectives.
Please contact us to discuss your dates. We will provide a guide to suit your travel plans, subject to guide availability.
No mountaineering experience is required. The most important prerequisite is a high level of aerobic fitness.
Winter clothing and equipment is heavier, so the ability to carry 15 kg for up to 5 hours is necessary. You also need to be enthusiastic and keen to learn new skills. A solid hiking/tramping background is perfect.
Alpine Skills Course Details
+ Course Venue
Mueller Hut, at 1,830 metres in the Sealy Range above Mount Cook Village is the venue of choice.
This is close to our base and has all the advantages of a modern mountain hut, making it an excellent location to work from. The views into the Mueller Glacier and the east face of Mount Sefton are impressive.
Close by the hut are Mt Ollivier (1933 metres) and Mt Kitchener (2042 metres) . A couple of hours across the Annette Plateau is Mt Annette (2235 metres).
In the unlikely occasion that (avalanche) conditions are not safe for travel on foot, we have other venues available approximately 1.5 hours by road. Any travel costs to local areas are covered in the course fees.
+ Course Daily Organisation
The course is designed to work around changing weather and snow conditions, so each Winter Mountain Skills courses is unique.
This course is about dealing with all weather scenarios, so we will be able to get into the mountains in all but the worst weather. The hike to your mountain hut will also involve instruction in snow safety and route selection, so not time is wasted.
During the course you cover map reading and navigation topics, study mountain weather, basic snow safety, avalanche awareness, and avalanche rescue. Some theoretical topics can be covered in the evenings, or indoors if the weather does not allow travel outside.
Each person is expected to carry a share of food and cooking equipment and to assist with preparing meals. We will provide eating utensils.
+ Weather Contingency
A one-day weather contingency is built into the course (at no cost to you). Please allow some flexibility in your travel plans to allow for this. How the contingency works
If we face a bad weather forecast when you start the course, we can take the option of rolling back the start date by one day. This will allow us to take advantage of upcoming fine weather and make the most your time.
+ Footwear for Winter Mountain Skills
Winter Mountain Skills requires fully-shanked alpine boots. If you do not own appropriate boots we have these available to rent.
We have a range of crampons, which fit practically all boots.
+ 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.
The course price includes aircraft access and exit flights to maximise your time in the mountains.
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
+ 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.