Winter Climbing

Winter Alpine Mountaineering

Climb Climbing courses
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4 days
Climb Rating

Winter in the Southern Lakes of New Zealand provides unique access to the snow, rock and ice of the alpine environment.

Whether you have no mountaineering experience or want to progress your alpine climbing techniques on steeper terrain, the Remarkable mountain range near Queenstown provides an amazing array of opportunities for training and skills development on a wide range of terrain.

Whether you are looking to push your comfort zone or need friendly support to learn at your own pace, our guides are expert at getting you to achieve to the best of your ability and putting your needs first.

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Day before pre-trip meeting

We meet at the Aspiring Guides office in Wanaka at 5:30pm for a pre-trip meeting. Introductions are made and course outline reviewed. Equipment is checked and allocated by your guide. Any last-minute questions are answered regarding gear. Plans are made for an early start the following morning.

Day One

Self Arrest Practice

We meet early in the morning at our office in Wanaka and drive to the base at the Remarkables Ski Area (1.5 hours). The drive over the Crown Range Road is fantastic and by the time you reach the Remarkables you will know all you need about New Zealand mountain roads! A short hike takes you to the day’s venue at the base of the East Face of Double Cone. There are short water ice leads to get your ice climbing head into gear. Placing ice screws and proper footwork and tool placements will be covered. The descent to Queenstown and a hot shower and dinner will be well appreciated. We stay in basic motel accomodation in Frankton.

Day Two

Snow Caving

With and alpine start you will reach the East Face of Single Cone just before the sun comes up. This is the ideal practice environment with many features and route variations to choose from. You will need rock and ice placements and it is a good chance to work on your rope management. The descent down the Grand Couloir will leave you time for a couple of ice pitches on the lower crag before setting up camp for the night. Often we opt for a snow cave but either caving or tenting on the edge of Lake Alta will be a great way to spend the night.

Day Three

Winter Alpine Mountaineering in Queenstown

After a good warm-up hiking over Wye Saddle your guide will lead you around to the South Face of Single Cone. This is a bit longer and steeper and you and your partner will need all your skills. The guide will work closely with you as you practice your multi pitching. Usually, there will be some dry tooling involved on the thinner sections. It’s your choice either to bivi or head back to the Frankton - usually the weather forecast is a big help in deciding!

Day Four

Climbing towards the light in winter

Last day and a new venue. The West Face of Double Cone is famous for its cold winter mixed climbing and for the fact that it is the most photographed rock wall in New Zealand due to its position dominating the view from Queenstown. Two hours hiking brings you to Queens Drive which is a shelf that traverses the face. There are climbs varying from easy to some of the hardest around. This is multi-pitch mixed heaven and a fitting last day’s effort. You have the option of remaining in Queenstown, heading to the airport for homeward travel, or returning to Wanaka with your guide.

Winter climbing is the ultimate in alpine challenge.

Winter conditions can result in cold temperatures, wild weather and potential avalanche conditions. This course takes advantage of the easy access we have at the Remarkables Conservation Area beyond the Remarkables ski field. In summer this area offers the South Island's most accessible multi-pitch alpine climbing, in winter the high altitude means consistent snow and ice without the limitations of a glaciated environment. Objectives during the course include winter walking around the Upper Wye Valley, ascending Single Cone or Double Cone, moderate alpine peaks with amazing views of the Wakitupu basin, or more technical ice and mixed climbing routes. There is also the option of flying (extra) into the well-known ice climbing venue at the head of Wye Creek for part of the course.

Accommodation will be based in Frankton in a basic motel providing the opportunity to come down, dry out and warm up at night. Depending on your goals, there is also an option to learn the delights of a winter alpine camp or bivy in the mountains.

Course syllabus

  • Mountain hazards identification and avoidance including avalanche awareness.
  • Mountain weather.
  • Crampon and ice axe techniques for snow, ice and mixed climbing.
  • ​Rope management including belaying, abseiling and rescue.
  • Protection and anchors on rock, snow and ice.
  • Camp management including a winter bivouac.
  • Route selection and navigation.
  • Equipment and clothing selection in the winter.
  • Trip planning including assessment of weather and conditions, human factors and terrain.

The course emphasis is placed on learning to become self-sufficient in the winter alpine environment. At the end of the course you will be a competent member of a mountaineering team, being able to contribute to decision making on mountaineering expeditions, attempt summits via routes graded 1 to 2 (NZ grade) or undertake guided ascents of more technical objectives.

This course is an ideal way of developing your alpine climbing skills in preparation for future Mount Aspiring or Aoraki/ Mount Cook ascents.


Trip Date Available
Get in touch for Winter 2022 dates


Client Ratio Price
1:1 - 1:4

What's included

  • NZMGA or IFMGA qualified guide
  • meals and energy snacks
  • basic accommodation in Frankton
  • camping equipment for snowcave / bivi / tent overnight option at Remarkables
  • national park fees
  • 15% goods and services tax.
  • technical equipment - see equipment section below for details
  • Aspiring Guides Technical Manual

What's not included

  • optional flight into Wye Creek

Frequently asked questions

One thing we hear every trip is "the food was great! I never knew it was possible to eat so well on a climbing / skiing / trekking trip".

We put a lot of work into supplying you with wholesome meals with a variety of healthy and tasty ingredients and snacks catering to common preferences.

Where possible, we provide fresh vegetables and real coffee. However, there will always be limitations when cooking in an alpine or wilderness environment. Meals like salads are limited or not possible to provide. Some trips/ courses are not recommended for people with very restrictive or complex dietary requirements. If you do have a restrictive eating regime we ask that you disclose this to us at the time of booking and we may ask you to provide us with an advance copy of what you would typically eat on a wilderness trip.

For highly specialised diets requiring special food purchases - we may ask that you attend our offices on the day before your trip is due to commence. If you are joining a scheduled group that doesn't have food requirements, we may ask you to shop and pay for some of your preferred dietary requirements. You will also be required to carry this food and your guide may ask you to assist in the preparation of any separate meals required for you individually.

You can book directly through our website using our online booking form. Please make sure you include details of the trip you want to book and the dates that you prefer. Provided that we have minimum numbers (ie., generally 2 persons) we will run all trips listed on our website. If you have dates that don't match our scheduled dates or you want to check whether a particular trip or course is running - please contact us.

We cannot confirm your place on any scheduled group trip or your guide for any 1:1 trip until we receive your payment of a NZ$500 deposit. The balance of the trip price is due 60 days before the start of your trip. If you are booking within 60 days of the trip start date then the full trip price is payable to confirm your booking.

All bookings are subject to our company Terms & Conditions relating to cancellation & liability issues. Please make sure you read our Terms & Conditions carefully before booking your trip with us as you will be asked to confirm that you have read and agreed to them before your booking is finalised with us.

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
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