Advanced Mountaineering Course


The West Coast glaciers offer quick access to some of the best climbing in New Zealand. Other venues including the Grand Plateau under the shadow of Aoraki/Mount Cook or the Upper Tasman Glacier.  

Fede is a mountain goat in disguise.

Elsje Dines, Australia

“Both Tony and Fede are very professional.   At no time was I pushed beyond my limits,  and I was not micro-managed either.  Fede has the ability to recognise clients strengths an weaknesses and encourages the client to use and develop their strengths and overcome or manage their weaknesses. Tony and Fede are great to talk to and have a laugh with.  I am sure that Fede is a mountain goat in disguise.”

More Information

This mountaineering couse is the real deal, big mountains and big glaciers make this area world famous for it's challenging mountaineering.  Wanaka is the ideal location for mountaineering training.  Well positioned close to the main divide, Wanaka has access to both the western glaciers of Westland National Park and the eastern Mount Cook National Park, and with Aspiring National Park on our doorstep we can run our courses where weather and conditions are optimal.

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.
  • Multipitch climbing and rescue.
  • Snow, ice and mixed climbing.
  • Alpine rock climbing.
  • Mountain shelter and camp management.
  • Equipment and clothing selection.
  • Route selection & navigation.
  • Trip planning including assessment of weather and conditions, human factors and terrain.

At the end of the course you will be a competent member of a mountaineering team, 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.

Available Dates

Dates Status
2 - 9 Nov 2 places available
23 - 30 Nov 2 places available
7 - 14 Dec Open
4 - 11 Jan Open

Best conditions for ice and mixed alpine climbing is usually November and December.  January to March the course will have more focus on alpine rock climbing.


Technical Difficulty

This course is designed for people with previous alpine climbing experience. Participant should be competent climbing up to grade 17 on rock and have good belaying skills. Ice climbing grades are notoriously fickle but you can expect sections of near vertical with occasional rock mixed in.

Physical Difficulty

No one will ever tell you that alpine climbing is easy. The better shape you are in, the more you will be able enjoy the course. 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.

Ice climbing requires strong leg and calf muscles. Steep hill are best to get you up on your toes. Hiking trips in your rigid soles boots will give your calves a workout. Try “front pointing” up steep hills as much as possible. Participants need to be accustomed to regular exercise. You should be able maintain a slow but steady pace up steep hills for an hour or more while carrying a 10-12kg pack. Good balance and a comfort with heights will be required. The good news is that with a little dedication just about anyone can achieve the required level of fitness. Endurance workouts are key to building up stamina. Part of any routine should include pushing your legs and lower body for extended periods of time, preferably with alternating periods of steep up hill and downhill.

Price Details

Guide Ratio Price
1:3 for 8 days NZ $3,650
1:2 for 6 days NZ $3,650

NB: Min 2 pax required

* If only two people are booked on the course, then it will be shortened to 6 days

What's Included
  • guide fees
  • meals and energy snacks
  • alpine hut / tent accommodation
  • technical equipment - see equipment section below for details
  • Aspiring Guides Technical Manual
  • radio network or satellite phone comms
  • national park & landing fees
  • 15% goods and services tax.
Not Included
  • Helicopter or fixed wing flights in and out


Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Day One

We meet at the Aspiring Guides office in Wanaka at 8:30am for introductions and course outline. Equipment is reviewed and allocated by your guide.  The drive to our staging area at Fox Township takes 3.5 hours.  It is a stunning drive up the west coast and a short flight into the Pioneer hut located at 2300m at the head of the Fox Glacier.  Your guide will refresh you on your cramponing and self arrest skills before moving on the more advanced topics.

Pioneer Hut

Day Two

This is a day to work on the basics and after finding nearby steep ice your guide will work on your ice axe placements and footwork.  Balance and technique will be emphasized.

Pioneer Hut

Day Three

Conway peak is a great warm up to steep snow and ice.  Leading your first pitches will be a buzz that you will never forget.  Topping out will be a memory that will last forever. The steep hard snow with a couple ice pitches is perfect for learning.

Day Four

Alack Attack on nearby Mt Allack is a great place to experience some mixed climbing. Three pitches on the glacier before the route enters mixed terrain this is a chance to practice your ice screw placements under the watchful eye of your guide.


Day Five

Mt Haidinger is an ice climbing playground.  A good introduction is climbing the South Arête before traversing the ridge and toping out with three pitches of steep hard ice.  This route requires a good mix of mountaineering skills.

Mt Haidinger

Day Six

Every trip needs a rest day or two.  If there are bad weather days your guide will give talks on topics such as avalanche awareness and New Zealand weather.

Hut day

Day Seven

Same peak different route.  The West Ridge on Mt Haidinger is an aesthetic cork screw that rises directly out of the glacier.  A beautiful climb with the sting in the tail.

Day Eight

It’s time to head out for a shower.  The hike down the Fox Glacier is a pretty special one.  Winding through the crevasses eventually takes you to Chancellor Hut perched high over the ice fall.  This is where the helicopter pick us up for the ride back to civilization and the drive back to Wanaka.  We usually arrive back in Wanaka around 7 pm.

Helicopter pick up

Equipment Details

This video provides practical demonstration of the common equipment and clothing required for mountaineering.

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