Wanaka Mountain Guides

Avalanche Skills Course 1

The Avalanche Skills Course 1 (previously known as the Avalanche Awareness Course) is the first step in a lifelong journey of understanding and staying safe from avalanches. The course introduces an awareness of how the terrain and weather affect the stability of the snowpack and how backcountry travelers can gather and interpret information about the weather and snowpack to plan and safely carry out a journey beyond the ski field boundary. In addition, it also provides instruction and practice of the latest companion rescue techniques.


This course replaces the Avalanche Awareness Course. If you have already done this course, the next step would be the 4-day Avalanche Skills Course 2 or a single-day Avalanche Skills Refresher.

The Avalanche Skills Course 1 includes a field day and a theory session. The theory session takes place the evening before the field day from 18:00 to 21:00 in Wānaka.

On the morning of the field day, the group will meet at 8:00 to travel up to Treble Cone for a morning briefing before heading up the lifts. After a full day of practical exercise, we aim to return to the ski field base by 16:00.

Avalanche Skills Syllabus

To get the most out of this course, participants should have previously completed the MSC Online Avalanche Course.

The Avalanche Skills Course 1 syllabus includes the following topics:

  • Introduction to avalanche terrain characteristics. This includes how to recognise potentially dangerous areas using maps and observations in the field.
  • Introduction to mountain weather and how current and previous weather conditions can affect the structure and stability of the snowpack and avalanche danger.
  • Trip planning techniques, including sources of weather, avalanche, and terrain information.
  • The latest avalanche companion rescue techniques, include using a transceiver, shovel, and probe. The field day will include instruction and coaching on the use of this equipment and a small-party rescue scenario.

For further instruction on backcountry touring skills, it is possible to combine this course with an Introduction to Ski and Splitboard Touring Course. This combination provides more opportunities to develop the skills of identifying avalanche terrain, applying safe travel techniques, and applying the weather and avalanche forecasts to trip planning. Alternatively, we offer the more comprehensive 4-day Backcountry Ski and Splitboard Touring course that includes the Avalanche Skills Course 1.

What to Expect

All participants must be equipped for a day out in the mountains. This means appropriate clothing, eyewear, ski or snowboard equipment, and avalanche safety equipment including shovel, transceiver, and probe. Avalanche safety equipment can be provided on request.

We also run an Avalanche Skills Course for Mountaineers and Trampers focusing on terrain analysis, equipment, and travel considerations for backcountry travel on foot.

Backcountry Avalanche Advisory
Wanaka Mountain Guides

The focus of the ASC1 is avalanche skills and not backcountry travel. Ski or snowboard touring equipment is only required for scheduled ‘touring’ courses. It is important that participants in the touring courses should already be familiar with the use of their touring gear. Alternatively, consider combining the Avalanche Skills Course 1 with an Introduction to Ski and Splitboard Touring Course for two days of backcountry instruction.

Why a Wānaka Mountain Guides Avalanche Skills Course?

All of Wānaka Mountain Guides’ avalanche courses are delivered by Avalanche Risk Management Level 6 qualified NZ mountain or ski guides. This is the highest level of avalanche qualification available in New Zealand and demonstrates significant avalanche industry practical knowledge and experience in fields including guiding ski patrol and forecasting. This ensures that participants receive industry-leading instruction covering the latest techniques.

Wanaka Mountain Guides

Pricing and Dates

Duration: Evening session and 1 field day
Maximum ratio: 1:6
2024 Dates:
5th/6th July: Places available
12th/13th July: Places available
19th/20th July: Places available
26th/27th July: Places available
2nd/3rd August: Places available

If you can’t make the available dates, please get in touch to arrange alternative dates or private bookings. We can open up a second course on waitlist dates if we get enough interest. Get in touch to express interest.
2024 Price:
$290 per person

Inclusions: GST, guide fees, Mountain Safety Council resources, avalanche safety gear (if required), small group transport from Wānaka.
Exclusions: food, lift passes, touring equipment hire (if required).
Participants require a Treble Cone lift pass. For those without a season pass, a day touring lift ticket can be purchased on the morning of the field day for $75.

To get the most out of this course, you must complete the free MSC Online Avalanche Course beforehand.

Adverse weather or lift closure may prevent the scheduled field day from going ahead. In this instance, it will be rescheduled to an alternative day.

See Also

Rating: 5 out of 5.

’10/10. Extremely Knowledgeable. Fantastic Group Facilitation Skills. Great Teacher. Passionate about Skiing, Mountains/ Weather/ Snow Pack. Incredibly Patient. Cool, Calm, and Collected.’

 Fiona, Avalanche Skills Course

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘I Learnt heaps on my course, it was a wonderful experience. WMG has very experienced and knowledgeable guides who share this knowledge with skill, expertise, and grace. Highly recommended.’

Stuart, Avalanche Skills Course

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘A great local company offering backcountry tours. Less people, fresh lines and opportunity to enhance your backcountry skills. Our guide, was exceptional. He picked a great route, great skiing, and included some snow science along the way. Highly recommended.’

Nathan, Remarkables Backcountry Tour

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