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20 days
Climb Rating

The Aspiring Guides Mountain Foundations Course is designed from the experience of many years of hiking, mountaineering and alpine climbing in New Zealand.

It covers the most important outdoor leadership and technical skills required to travel safely and confidently in the mountains. These skills are introduced in a progression from basic rock climbing and hiking techniques to intermediate and advanced techniques for mountaineering and alpine climbing.

The program is almost entirely a hands-on technical mountain skills course with the majority of time spent outdoors. This is the only mountaineering program of its type in New Zealand. With this experience, our students can progress to their own mountaineering and climbing objectives, and it can be the first step to a career in adventure tourism or getting further professional qualifications in the outdoors.

Students will come from diverse backgrounds and have different reasons for undertaking a program such as this. Exposure to the opportunities of recreating or working in the mountains will be a life-changing experience and provide a sense of accomplishment from the knowledge and confidence that they will come away with.

book now from $8500 Skills required
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A well structured, well-paced course. We had the freedom to be on our own rope teams but with the right level of supervision and guidance particularly when doing our practice scenarios eg crevasse rescue - go at our own pace and steps, but Andrea was...read more

Travis, Australia, Mountaineering Skills Course

Week One - ROCK WEEK

2016 11 27 12 16 08

We meet at the Aspiring Guides office in Wanaka for introductions and course outline. Discuss aims and goals. Equipment is reviewed and allocated by your guide.

The first week is based out of local Wanaka rock climbing crags. Wanaka has a variety of beautiful locations for rock climbing suitable for anyone from beginners to experts. The area boasts thousands of single and multi-pitch, traditional and bolted rock climbs for all abilities within 20 minutes drive of the town centre in the beautiful idyllic setting of the Matukituki Valley, the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park. You are surrounded by lake and mountain views. Whether you have tried rock climbing before or are completely new, this will introduce and develop fundamental rock climbing skills including ropework, safety, movement and footwork. You will gain confidence in your skills, exposure to heights and trusting the rope. You will get more comfortable handling the ropes in the principles of pitching and belaying.

One day will be spent covering a mix of navigation and trip planning techniques with the opportunity to go out and practice these skills close to Wanaka before having to use them for real on the Winter Mountain Skills module the following week.

One afternoon will be spent on avalanche awareness theory and preparing for the next week.

You will begin to get to know and to work with your fellow students. During the following weeks, the group's ability to function well together will be important to the success of the program.


Travel from Wanaka 1.5 hours to the Remarkables mountains near Queenstown and spend two days getting introduced to winter conditions and snow travel. This includes avalanche awareness and use of transceiver, shovel and probe for avalanche rescue, crampon and ice axe use, and snowshoeing. You will begin to apply your navigation and route-finding skills to winter mountain travel.

On the third day, relocate to the Pisa mountain range accessed from the Cardrona Valley. This area has stunning views, from the Central Otago ranges in the east, the Southern Lakes and the length of the Southern Alps to the Remarkables, through Mt Aspiring and all the way to Aoraki/Mount Cook. Undertake a 2 day winter mountain journey exploring the valleys, ridges and tors of the range. This will be self-led under the guidance of your guides and give you the opportunity to work on winter hiking skills as well as camping and cooking out in the snow.

The classroom day will focus on mountain weather and Navigation and preparing for Alpine Rock week.


The first two days will introduce and develop more advanced rock climbing skills such as placing protection, creating anchors, multi-pitching and rescue. The focus is on efficient techniques and systems to climb safely and quickly on longer and more committing multi-pitch and alpine rock routes.

On day three, travel from Wanaka 2.5 hours over the scenic Lindis Pass to the Mackenzie basin, along the shore of Lake Pukaki and into the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Spend two days refining multi-pitch climbing techniques on the Sebastopol Bluffs. You will be able to apply your new skills to long climbs which demand far more efficiency and better route finding judgement. This scenic location has stunning views up the Tasman and Hooker valleys to the glaciers and summits of the National Park. Spend the night at the NZAC Unwin lodge and travel back to Wanaka at the end of the second or third day.

There will also be some theory/classroom sessions built into the week.

This week we'll provide food for 3 days and accommodation for 2 nights.


Winter Alpine Mountaineering

Travel back to the Remarkables and spend three days introducing winter alpine climbing skills. This includes trying ice and mixed climbing and dry tooling. If conditions allow, there will be the option to snow cave or bivouac out under the stars. You will also cover glacier travel skills, plus how to rescue yourself or your partner from a crevasse.

This week will culminate in a self-led ascent of Single Cone under the supervision and guidance of your guides. This summit has jaw-dropping views down to Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, and the ascent will put all the skills covered over the last few weeks to the test.

There will also be some theory/classroom sessions built into the week.

This week we'll provide food and accommodation (1-2 nights camping, 2-3 nights basic rooms) for the full 5 days.

Towards the end of every week, there will be a debrief, discussing next steps, further training, careers in the outdoors and professional qualifications. This will be an opportunity to reflect on all the new skills that you have developed and the future adventures that await you.

Our 2020 programme will run 8 June - 3 July. You can choose to do 1, 2, 3 or all 4 weeks.

It is structured as four 5-day long modules, including at 4 field days and 1 classroom day each week covering background theory and planning to make the most of all the time in the field. This leaves the weekends to recover, explore our region or undertake some local trips and missions to consolidate the skills learnt on the course.


  • Rock climbing: Sport and traditional climbing techniques including belaying, leading, abseiling, placing protection and creating anchors. Also includes performance and movement skills training to progress climbing technique.
  • Winter hiking: Navigation, trip planning, route finding and responsible camping and bivouac skills.
  • Backcountry avalanche and rescue (Mountain Saftey Council NZ accredited)
  • Mountaineering skills: Moving over snow and mixed terrain
  • Glacier travel and crevasse Rescue
  • Alpine rock climbing: Multi-pitch climbing techniques and rope rescue techniques
  • Ice and mixed climbing: Steep ice and mixed climbing techniques, placing protection and building anchors.

No one will ever tell you that mountaineering is easy.

The better shape you are in, the more you will be able to enjoy the course. Some days are spent with learning focused activity while other days are more physically challenging. Expect to be pushed hard physically but there will be time to recharge your batteries. Participants need to be accustomed to regular exercise.

book now from $8500

This course is designed as a development of mountaineering skills.

Previous experience with knots, indoor or outdoor climbing, belaying and rope work will be an asset. This course is the time to concentrate on the skills that will be the foundation for all your future alpine adventures.

book now from $8500


Trip Date Available
WEEK ONE - 8-12 JUNE, 2020 4 PLACES available
WEEK TWO - 15-19 JUNE, 2020 4 PLACES available
WEEK THREE - 22-26 JUNE, 2020 4 PLACES available
WEEK FOUR - 29 JUNE - 3 JULY, 2020 4 PLACES available
C: = confirmed to run


Client Ratio Price
All Four Weeks NZ$8,500
Week One only NZ$1,300
Week Two only NZ$2,750
Week Three only NZ$1,950
Week Four only NZ$2,650

What's included

  • Aspiring Guides - Mountain Foundations Course Certificate
  • Mountain Safety Council - Backcountry Avalanche Course Certificate
  • Aspiring Guides - Technical Mountaineering Manual (2018)
  • Avalanche Awareness in the New Zealand Backcountry (2008), Penny Goddard
  • guide fees
  • meals and energy snacks
  • Camping or backpacker accommodation away from Wanaka
  • technical equipment - see equipment section below for details
  • radio network or satellite phone comms
  • national park & landing fees
  • 15% goods and services tax

What's not included

  • accommodation and meals in Wanaka

Frequently asked questions

Most of our mountaineering ascents are conducted on a 1:1 basis, so no problem there.

For all other group climbing, skiing or trekking trips, we have a 2 person minimum number to operate a trip. If you are travelling on your own, try to organise your itinerary to match up with the dates scheduled for the course or trip listed on our website.

If you can't join a trip on our scheduled dates: then you have two options:

Book a private 1:1 trip for any dates you wish or we can book you as a single and we will try to match others to your dates. If we cannot find at least one other person for the dates you want, one month before the start date we will give you a full refund or offer you an alternative trip 1:1 for a fewer number of days.

Good travel insurance is essential. In addition to medical/accident cover, we highly recommend purchasing travel cancellation insurance. In some instances, our clients have injured themselves in totally unrelated accidents or had a family emergency which has meant that they have had to cancel their trips at short notice. Unfortunately, we were unable to resell their places and had to insist on our cancellation policy. A bad situation for everyone! But it’s also one that can be avoided with relatively cheap travel insurance. You may have your own preferred travel insurer. If not, here are some suggestions.
We do not recommend any company over any other.

Australian residents :

UK residents :

Canada & USA residents :

NZ residents : NZ Alpine Club Cover

All clients :

Equipment Detail

We include all technical climbing equipment, crampons, ice-axe, helmet, harness etc. You only need to provide your personal equipment like your boots and clothing, pack and sleeping bag. However many of these items are available for rent from us.

Equipment Detail Checklist & order form
Ice Axe Techniques
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WEB Lynn Hill Little Big Wall Dom Channon Photo 20190701 2
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