Summer Mountaineering Course
The Summer Mountaineering Course covers all the skills required to confidently tackle your own mountain adventures. New Zealand’s Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana are renowned for high glaciation and relief and offer a variety of classic mountaineering routes. This makes it the perfect training ground for local and worldwide mountaineering objectives. Early season conditions favour the classic snow and ice ascents whilst mid to late season, the focus shifts to alpine rock scrambling and climbing.
Courses can be based in the Aoraki / Mount Cook, or Westland National Parks. The exact venue will be decided at the start of the trip depending on the weather. Possible venues include Plateau Hut, Tasman Saddle or Kelman Huts at the head of the Haupapa / Tasman Glacier, Barron Saddle Hut and the Mueller Glacier, Pioneer or Centennial Huts on the western Fox and Franz Neves. These venues offer flexibility to target the optimum weather and conditions.
Participants can join the course in Wānaka or meet in Mount Cook Village.
These intensive courses are designed for aspiring mountaineers looking to learn skills in ropework, ice axe and crampon use, alpine climbing, trip planning, and ropework. This will give you the confidence to tackle your own mountaineering objectives in New Zealand’s big glaciated terrain and on our high peaks.
Topics covered on Summer Mountaineering Courses include:
- Glacier travel and crevasse rescue
- Crampon and ice axe use
- Trip planning, strategy, and tactics
- Weather and avalanche awareness
- Snow and ice climbing, protection, and anchors
- Alpine rock climbing, protection, and anchors
- Equipment selection
- Route planning and navigation
Check out our Downloads page course resources.
Summer Mountaineering Course Itinerary
The itinerary is flexible to work around weather and conditions and below is just a sample of what may happen on a course. If there is a delay getting into the mountains or the trip has to exit early, the course will base at NZAC Unwin Lodge in Mount Cook village and utilise local rock climbing and accessible venues to continue with the instruction.
Day 1: Travel to Mount Cook Airport to fly into the mountains. Get settled in the hut and venture out on the glacier for a few hours to explore the area and get familiar with glacier travel systems.
Day 2 – 4: Continue to explore the area, covering the topics of the syllabus with opportunities to practice climbing and rescue skills on nearby peaks and in nearby crevasses.
Day 5: Travel down the Haupapa / Tasman glacier to explore side valleys before flying out back to Mount Cook village. If the conditions are good, it may be possible to leave the hut the day before and spend the last night biviing out on the glacier.
Fitness and Difficulty Requirements
To get the most out of the course, participants should have good fitness and the ability to ascend and descend 1000m in a day.
Some experience with ropework, including knots and belaying is recommended.
Courses can be run at all levels of previous experience but in order to get the most out of the course, it is recommended to be familiar with tying in and belaying. These skills can be picked up at the local climbing wall before the course.
Technical equipment is provided. View the equipment list for details on the other equipment required for the course.
For more information and advice on buying your own gear, check out our Gear and Clothing Advice for Summer Mountaineering.
Pricing and Dates
|Duration: 5 days|
|Maximum ratio: 1:4|
|6th – 10th November: COMPLETE|
27th – November – 1st December: FULL
4th – 8th December: FULL
11th – 15th December: FULL
15th – 19th January: FULL
5th – 9th February: Places available
4th – 8th March: Places available
|5 days $2650 / $3100 / $4490 per person for 4 / 3 / 2 people |
Inclusions: GST, guide fees, compliance costs, course resources, mountain accommodation and food, technical equipment, transport from Wānaka, flight into and out of the mountains.
‘[Our guide] did an outstanding job of creating building blocks of learning – e.g. around crevasse rescue – so each of us was able to assimilate the learning involved at a rate that was appropriate for each of us. He also very skilfully managed and created situations where we could test ourselves at a level at which we were comfortable, without specifically calling this out. He is exceptional as a guide and brings a number of qualities to guiding which are very difficult to teach and which make him stand out to me.
— Ruth, Summer Mountaineering Course
‘Thank you for your patience and good humour. Pretty much everything I did last week was new and challenging and generally way outside my comfort zone. But despite having by far the least experience of the group you managed it in such a way that I never felt I was too much of a drag. I could not honestly say I enjoyed everything as I was doing it but I am really pleased I did do it and I am looking back with great fondness on the week. I am going to try and continue rock climbing (and to do it without whimpering) and I am determined to master prusiking. I will be ready for crossing any glaciers around Sydney.’
— Duncan, Summer Mountaineering Course
‘[Our guide] showed a high level of experience, knowledge, and professionalism in all areas of the course and were also able to convey their knowledge in a logical way that made it easy to progressively learn and practice all the skills. The skills were also taught at a rate that meant I was continually challenged to think about what I was learning and what to do next, but also in a way that made sense and gave us time to absorb all the information so everything came together at the end when we consolidated our learning on the final day on the mountain.’
—Katie, Summer Mountaineering Course