The course is run on the wide variety of terrain surrounding Mt Aspiring with a focus on teamwork and self-sufficiency. If the guide feels the team is ready, an ascent of Mt Aspiring will be attempted.
Here's some great footage from an Aspiring Expedition Course a few years ago:
We meet at our offices 8:30am in Wanaka. After meeting your guide your gear is checked and rental equipment fitted. Any last-minute questions you have will be answered and there is usually time for a quick visit to the shop if you have forgotten something. The drive to Cattle Flat helicopter staging area is approximately 20 min. down the magnificent Matukituki Valley. Dress for the alpine environment since you will be landing at Bevan Col on the edge of the Bonar Glacier, a whole new world. Here we fit crampons, rope together for glacier travel, and walk over the glacier for approximately two hours to Colin Todd hut (1800m) or alternatively camp if the weather is fine. Midsummer rewards us with daylight until 9-10pm. Cramponing and self-arresting skills are taught and demonstrated by the guide and practised until it becomes second nature. We go over the basic skills to ensure a consistency of technique before moving onto the more advanced skills.
We believe in learning by doing, so after instruction on roping up for glacier travel we like to get in a tour of the local area. Following the Ship Owner Ridge is a great day out taking in the Therma Glacier and views of the west coast. By the end of the day, you will be accomplished at travelling through crevassed areas and safely roping up to your partner.
Today we make an ascent of Mt Rolling Pin. This allows us to put skills learned on previous days into practice on an ascent. This awesome looking peak is surprisingly easy if you know the route but with steep snow and ice and even a little rock, it is the perfect place to be introduced to using anchors and pitching. The exposed traverse along the summit ridge is guaranteed to keep your attention!
Today we can move into more technical aspects such as ice climbing and crevasse rescue. Using some of the technical terrain that you will be encountering on the approach the next day, this is a chance to inspect the route up Mount Aspiring. Placing ice screws, V threads and equalizing anchors will be covered. A radio call provides the latest weather forecast each evening.
Summit Day! The weather still holds so our alpine starts at 4am. You and your partner will be climbing under the watchful eye of the guide who will step in and help as needed. Speed is important since this will be a big day. Usually, the climb takes between 12 and 14 hours. The route will vary according to the time of year and conditions but, no matter which way you go, it will be a challenging climb!
A well-deserved sleep rests everyone. Bad weather rolls in giving us a chance to focus on navigation, weather and advanced rope skills that can be practised in the hut.
Ascent of Mt Bevan. This peak dominates the end of the Matukituki Valley and is a fitting final summit for your trip. This peak is on the route out and if you mistakenly thought the excitement was over you will find the famed Bevan Col descent to the valley floor to be a real wake up. Reaching the valley floor we often bivi at the beautiful (but hard to find) Oats Bivi.
The walk down valley takes you into native bush and the steep track finally reaches level ground about 2 hours from the car park. Here you discover why we have been working at travelling light, tired legs pushed to the limit. With a quick lunch at Aspiring Hut it is a race to the trail head and a hot shower. A debrief at our office usually includes a cold beverage and few moments of contemplation on our deck overlooking Lake Wanaka.
Mount Aspiring (3033m/9951ft) is the only 3000m peak outside of Mount Cook National Park. It is an iconic peak that is often called the “Matterhorn of the South” and its aesthetic beauty attracts climbers from all over the world.
The course syllabus includes:
• Mountain hazards identification and avoidance including avalanche awareness
• Mountain weather
• Ropework, including belay, abseiling and rescue
• Protection and anchors on snow, rock and ice
• Glacier travel techniques and crevasse rescue
• Snow, ice and mixed climbing
• Alpine rock climbing
• Mountain shelter and camp management
• Equipment and clothing selection
• Route selection & navigation
• Trip planning including weather and conditions, human factors and terrain assessment
The course develops and expands on essential skills enabling you to move with confidence through the mountain environment and preparing you for more demanding routes and summits. At the end of the course, you will be a competent member of a mountaineering partnership, being able to contribute to decision making and attempt ascents of 3000m peaks via routes graded 2 to 3 (NZ grade) or undertake guided ascents of more technical objectives.
Instruction courses are different than ascents in that we are able to adjust the physical difficulty to the group. 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. You should be able to maintain a slow but steady pace up and down steep hills carrying a 10-15kg pack. Being able to climb 300m vertical meters in under an hour is a good endurance training aim. Good balance and coordination and a comfort with heights will be required.book now from $4850
For courses run from late December onwards, being comfortable climbing grade 14 rock will be beneficial. Previous experience with knots, belaying and rope work will be an asset and can be practised beforehand at a climbing gym. This course is the time to concentrate on the skills that will be the foundation for all your future alpine adventures. Skills such as good footwork with crampon and ice axe are essential for your safety. Our instructor will show you the right way to protect your self and gain a lifetime of solid technical skills.book now from $4850
|28 Dec - 4 Jan||Open|
|9 - 16 Jan||Open|
|23 - 30 Jan||Open|
|Inquire about availability for Feb, March, April||Open|
|COURSE FULL? Still get in touch with us, we offer a range of excellent alternative options|
All our trips in the mountains are physically demanding. It goes without saying that the fitter you are the more you will achieve and the more you will enjoy the experience. If you are new to mountaineering here are some suggestions: -
Endurance Fitness is the Key
In terms of fitness training for any mountaineering objective -endurance (both mental and physical) is the most important personal attribute you can have. You need to be able to keep moving at a steady pace for 10 hours + while carrying a load and sustain this over multiple days - very few of our mountaineering trips require only one day of effort!
For big objectives like Cook, you really need to aim to be able to climb 1000m vertical in about 3 hours. While you will start to feel the effects of altitude at 3000m, altitude is not generally a big factor in climbing NZ mountains. The degree of difficulty and technicality of the climb is!
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. 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. Make a pre-dawn start to get used to using a head torch & give yourself a 15+kg pack weight. Filling your pack with water bottles is a good way to get weight into your pack.
If you already rock climb - keep it up. If you have not done any rock climbing, then look at doing at least a few sessions with a local climbing instructor or indoor climbing wall. Being able to abseil & belay are important basic skills. Practice your knots - figure of 8, clove & italian hitches and prussik knots are important - here’s a great website to help.
If you have any questions at all, please contact us - we can send you information about a full training program for mountaineering and ski touring in NZ.
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.