Wanaka Mountain Guides

Avalanche Skills For Mountaineers

The Avalanche Skills for mountaineers and trampers course is the first step in a lifelong journey of understanding and staying safe from avalanches. The course, with a focus on foot based travel, introduces an awareness of how the terrain and weather affects the stability of the snowpack and how climbers and trampers can gather and interpret information about the weather and snowpack to plan and safely carry trips in the NZ mountains. In particular on how mountaineers can be exposed to avalanche hazard and how this can be managed. In addition it also provides instruction and practice of the latest companion rescue techniques.


Wanaka Monutain Guides [] Avalanche Skills for Mountaineers

The Avalanche Skills Course for Mountaineers 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 Cardrona for a morning briefing and gear check before heading up into the backcountry. After a full day of practical exercise, we aim to return to the ski field base by 16:00.

Avalanche Skills for Mountaineers Syllabus

Wanaka Mountain Guides [] Avalanche Rescue Skills

The day with an experienced mountain guide, with real experience on managing avalanche hazard on mountaineering objectives, alpine climbs, and snow treks. It focuses on avalanche awareness and avoidance for mountaineers and trampers.

We recommend completing the MSC Online Avalanche Course prior to attending this course. We also have our article Avalanche Exposure for Mountaineers that details some of the specific considerations for foot based mountain travellers.

Course syllabus includes:

  • Terrain analysis including identifying avalanche terrain, maintaining situational awareness of terrain traps and understanding consequences.
  • Identifying and predicting avalanche conditions and monitoring conditions on foot.
  • Decision making, strategies for short weather windows and commitment.
  • Safe travel techniques including awareness and managing conflicting hazards.
  • Equipment management including limitations of roping and anchors.
  • Trip planning including applying the avalanche forecast to high mountain routes.
  • Avalanche companion rescue including multiple transceiver problems and avoiding transceiver, probing, and digging pitfalls

What to Expect

Wanaka Mountain Guides [] Sastrugi

All participants must be equipped for backcountry travel with suitable clothing and eyewear. Crampons or snowshoes may be required for access and can be provided. Avalanche safety gear including transceiver, shovel, and probe are also required and can be provided.

Why a Wānaka Mountain Guides Avalanche Course?

All our avalanche courses are delivered by Avalanche Risk Management Level 6 qualified mountain 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.

Glacier Trekking Quarterdeck and French Ridge

Pricing and Dates

2023 Dates:28th/30th July (Friday night evening session): COMPLETE
11th/12th August (Friday night evening session): 1 place available
25th/27th August (Friday night evening session): FULL

Can’t make these dates. Get in touch to make arrangements for private groups.
2023 Price:from $290 per person (minimum 4 participants)

Includes: GST, guide fees, compliance costs, avalanche equipment, and transport from Wānaka.
Excludes: Lunch and snacks
Maximum ratio:1:6

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘[Our instructor] was excellent at communicating and explaining the content. He did it in a way that was easy to learn and not too much all at once. Super nice guy.’

Kayden, Backcountry Ski and Splitboard Course

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.

‘Excellent – great knowledge and very good at simplifying potentially complex information and presenting it in a way that we all understood.’ 

Andy, Avalanche Skills Course

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