These are massive areas of snow and ice that are linked by a system of four huts. In winter and spring when the snow piles up and the crevasses are filled, this becomes a ski touring paradise.
While the emphasis is on getting the best and most skiing possible, it is also usual to receive an introduction to glacier ski touring skills including:
For a more structured ski mountaineering course check out the Glacier Ski Mountaineering Course.
Aaron, USA, Glacier Ski Tour
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. Your guide will also talk through the current conditions and weather forecast to make a plan for the next day.
We drive to Fox Glacier or Mount Cook Village, where we load the helicopter and fly into the mountains. Your guide will instruct you on the safety aspects of glacier skiing.
Ski or splitboard tour day trip. With light day packs the goal can be to travel up to an easy col or summit for spectacular 360-degree views or getting the maximum vertical skiing in. You will be surrounded by the tallest peaks in New Zealand.
Ski touring is all about finding the best quality snow and then covering it with your own tracks. By now we have figured out where the powder is and there is nothing better than a day of long runs in unbroken snow.
If conditions are favourable, you may choose to ski tour over to another hut to spend the night. There is no hurry and plenty of time to ski one of the many interesting lines you see along the way. Otherwise continue to explore the many options around the high neve areas of the glacier.
Due to the nature of New Zealand's mountain weather, you can expect to have some hut time, maybe fly in a day or 2 later, or fly 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, and heli trips into Mt Alta. Ski tour down to lower huts or pick up where the helicopter will pick us up and transport us back down to ground level.
We (in particular the guides) recommend 7 days for the tour to get the most out of it.
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 of the mountaineer.
This is a unique place and in the world of backcountry touring, the west coast of New Zealand is incomparable. Just because the mountains are big does not mean the skiing is all steep, the upper glaciers offer a world of moderate slopes.
The exact itinerary of each trip is up to the motivations of the participants and the conditions. You could expect a variety of different objectives from searching out good snow and lapping a good slope, exploring a bit further afield or going for a summit.
If you are an intermediate or above skier, don’t miss out on a great ski adventure. 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 (i.e., harness, crampons, ice axe) free of charge. All you need is your own ski & splitboard 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 side country touring options from ski resorts in bad weather.
NZMGA qualified guide
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.