The West Coast of the South Island has two outstanding glaciers that come from the highest reaches of the Southern Alps all the way down (almost) to sea level. These are massive areas of snow and ice.
We have two course options. The emphasis will be tailored to the group and be dependant on conditions at the time;
Introductory course, which can be guided with up to 4 clients and one guide.
Advanced course that can be guided with up to 2 clients and 1 guide. If you are looking at getting on more technical terrain and summiting ski peaks using ski mountaineering skills then the advanced option would be the best option. In addition to the core skills covered in the introductory option, further skills include:
David, USA, Glacier Ski Mountaineering
We usually meet at our office in Wanaka at 5:30pm the evening before to do a final check of your equipment and answer any last minute questions.
We drive to Fox Glacier or Mount Cook village where we load the helicopter and have a spectacular flight into the mountains. Your guide will instruct you on the safety aspects of avalanche and glacier skiing. A chance to explore the area and get a feel on conditions. You will be surrounded by the tallest peaks in New Zealand. Further mountaineering skills will be developed in preparation for bigger objectives later in the week.
There are many options for peaks to climb and ski that will be the opportunity to apply the skills that has been covered. A winter ascent of a 3000m peak will be the ultimate objective to put your new skills into practice. Options on the West Coast include Lendenfeld Peak from Pioneer Hut or the twin peaked Minarets from Centennial Hut with its views over the entire length of the Tasman Glacier. On the eastern side it could be Hochstetter Dome, Mt Green, Elie du Beaumont or Mt Hamilton.
Due to the nature of NZ's mountain weather you can expect to have some hut time, maybe fly in a day or 2 later or flight out early. We have lots of tricks up our sleeves for alternative areas on these days such as the local Wanaka or Remarkables backcountry, Ohau backcountry, heli trip into Mt Alta. We (in particular the guides) recommend at least 6 days for the course. We can do 5, 6, 7 or even longer if you want!
Ski tour down to a lower hut or pick up. Here the helicopter will pick us up and transport us back down to ground level.
NB: Please note that this itinerary is a sample only and the actual itinerary may vary at the discretion of your guide depending on weather, conditions and personal ability
This is a unique place and in the world of backcountry touring, the west coast of New Zealand is incomparable. This is the perfect introduction or development of ski mountaineering techniques for the high mountains with a range of peaks and terrain from moderate to steep.
Before the trip begins you will receive a complete gear equipment list and we will help you through any questions you might have. We include all the technical gear required for glacier travel (ie., harness, crampons, ice axe) free of charge. All you need is your own ski & board touring equipment.
While the West Coast glaciers are our aim, if weather conditions restrict access to this location, not only do we have our weather contingency day bonus, we offer the widest range of alternative backcountry skiing locations, including the Mt Cook, Mt Aspiring regions and locally our Black Peak & Robrosa private huts. This is a HUGE advantage if you are wanting to experience true backcountry rather than being restricted to sidecountry options from ski resorts in bad weather.