How to get into ski touring? The first step in many’s journeys into the world of ski and splitboard touring is a course with a professional ski guide. There is a steep learning curve with managing equipment, transitions, efficient travel, staying safe, and finding the best snow. A course can provide the tips and tricks to fast-track the learning and get going with your own ski and splitboard touring adventures. Wānaka Mountain Guides provides a range of backcountry ski and splitboard touring courses. The right course for each person depends on their prior experience, backcountry aspirations, and time available, and over time, a progression of courses can allow tourers to have the skills and confidence to take on more challenging and complex adventures.
Introduction to Backcountry Ski and Splitboard Touring Course
The 1-day Introduction to Backcountry Skiing and Splitboard Touring Course is usually the start of people’s backcountry learning and folks often do this on hired gear so that they can learn about what works and doesn’t work in order to make good decisions on what to buy themselves down the track. Combined with the 1.5 Avalanche Skills Course 1 this would be the minimum for heading out on simple local adventures. It is also possible to join a group Treble Cone Backcountry Tour to get introduced to some of the local terrain and build on the knowledge and practice of the touring skills. This can be a good pathway for working locals as the days can be spread out over a number of weeks.
Backcountry Ski and Splitboard Touring Course
The 4-day Backcountry Ski and Splitboard Touring Course covers the same topics as the Introduction to Backcountry Course and includes the Avalanche Skills Course 1 with some more travel days to explore the local area and put into practice the touring and avalanche skills. So similar to the first pathway but concentrated over 4 consecutive days.
Glacier Ski and Splitboard Touring Course
The Glacier Ski and Splitboard Touring Course takes place on the glaciers of the Aoraki / Mount Cook or Westland National Parks. This is the next step up from the previous 2 courses and introduces the additional safety skills to undertake glacier ski trips including basic ice axe and crampon use, glacier travel, route finding, and crevasse rescue. There is also an opportunity to develop trip planning and avalanche knowledge for bigger glaciated objectives.
Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue Course
The short local Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue Course prepare trekkers, mountaineers, or ski or splitboard tourers for carrying out travel over glaciers. It covers all the skills required for safely tackling glacier objectives. A customised refresher is available for those who have covered these skills previously prior to embarking on a season’s adventuring.
Ski Mountaineering Course
The Ski Mountaineering Course course is also based on the glaciers of Aoraki / Mount Cook or Westland National Parks and is our most advanced ski course. The focus is the climbing and mountaineering skills required to ascend New Zealand’s classic snow and glacier peaks for the purposes of ski and snowboard descents and utilising skis or splitboard to access more remote objectives. Some experience in mountaineering or rock climbing and with basic snowcraft is useful prior to undertaking this course.
Avalanche Skills Course
Finally, the Avalanche Skills Course 2 is the highest level of recreation avalanche education available and focuses on developing avalanche skills for the identification and assessment of avalanche danger whilst on multi-day tours away from the public avalanche advisory. To undertake this course, participants must have already done the Avalanche Skills Course 1 and consolidated their skills on a number of self-led backcountry tours.