Most of our trips run from late June to late October. Check the webpage for the trip you are interested in for scheduled dates.
Ski / Snowboard Touring & Snowshoeing
The NZ ski season typically commences late June and ends early October, however backcountry touring is at its peak in Sept - late October.
We have trips from 1 day to 12 days. See the descriptions of individual trips on our website.
Generally our winter trips are based from a hut. Most days there is only need for lunch, snacks, water, camera, jacket. When relocating or touring out, you may need to carry 10-15kg which includes personal gear and some food.
As a general rule: the more technically advanced / more complex the terrain - the lower the guide to client ratio. All professional mountain guides contracted to Aspiring Guides are qualified professionals and operate under the terrain guidelines issued by the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association.
Our maximum group size for introductory ski/snowboard backcountry tours or courses is typically 1 guide with 6 clients. We write this as 1:6 guide ratio. For ski snowboard touring in glaciated terrain this ratio is 1:4.
At the end of every trip description on our website, we provide detailed information about the equipment required for the trip. Typically this includes a checklist which you can use to "tick off" your gear, a document giving more detailed explanations as well as some of our best "guide tips" and a video to visually explain some of the terminology.
For our climbing and skiing trips we have 3 categories of equipment:-
Compulsory items - this is equipment you must have with you. You can either purchase or hire depending on the item.Trip Dependent - these are items that maybe needed but will depend on the venue for the trip and prevailing conditions. Most times this cannot be decided ahead of time. Our best advice is that if you already own the items listed in the trip dependent section & you can fit in your pack then bring them along. Things like your own rock shoes and snow goggles are good things to bring - but disposable eating utensils can easily be obtained in Wanaka.Optional - these are items which you can choose to bring or leave behind. But we think you should at least bring your camera!! Your trip will to some of the most breathtaking locations on the planet!!
Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about the suitability of equipment to avoid purchasing or carrying unnecessary equipment.
Technical Skiing/ Boarding Ability
For any group ski / snowboard backcountry tour or course you need to be an intermediate or advanced level skier or boarder. You are expected to have had experience skiing / riding off-trail ("off-piste") and away from groomed runs at resorts. You don't have to be an expert skier or rider but you do need to competently control your skis or board on a wide variation of terrain from gentle slopes to steep coloirs and exposed ridgelines and in snow conditions that can vary widely from hard icy conditions to deep heavy powder.
Unless you are travelling hut to hut, generally we avoid skiing or riding with a full pack and instead base each day's skiing from one hut / or central location. So while pack weights are light on most days of your tour, your pack maybe up to 15kg on your first and last day and you need to still be able to tour uphill and control your skiing / riding downhill while wearing a full pack.
Experience with touring equipment not essential but recommended
While it is not expected that you have experience utilising the specialised equipment for backcountry touring (ski touring bindings, skins, splitboards etc), some prior experience is an advantage. If you wish to book on a multi-day trip we generally recommend that you take at least one day prior to become familiar with the use your gear (whether you hire or own). Booking a 1 day - Treble Cone Backcountry Day with us is often a great idea!
If you are a private group or booking a 1:1 privately guided trip - your guide can handle any variety of ski level or experience - even if you would rate yourself as a beginner skier!
Fitness for Ski / Snowboard Backcountry Touring
There are no ski lifts in the backcountry! Touring is 80% uphill with the incentive of an untracked exhilarating ride to the bottom for the remaining 20%.
Endurance Fitness is crucial - both mental and physical. You need to be able to keep moving at a steady pace for 6 - 10 hours while carrying and skiing with a load. And you must be able to sustain this effort over multiple days - very few of our backcountry ski / snowboarding trips require only one day of effort!
One of the best ways to get "endurance" is sustained hiking under load. Short intense workouts at the gym are only slightly helpful. Big hikes ie., > 10 hrs on rough terrain with a pack is best. Long days cross country skiing and hiking trips of 4+ days are ideal training. But we understand that this type of training is pretty hard to get as a city dweller. Stair hiking with a 15+ kg and 20+ floors works remarkably well. But nothing beats getting out of the city to national park areas and mountain trails whenever you can.
If you have any questions at all, please contact us - we can send you information about a full training program for ski / snowboard touring in NZ.