Comprehensive Mountaineering

Comprehensive Mountaineering

7 Days, $2100 incl gst, 3 cooked meals/day & 7 nights accommodation

See Calendar for course dates!

This course is ideal for you if

You have previous experience tramping/trekking and are looking to gain the skills necessary to venture safely on your own into alpine environments. This course is designed for the aspiring mountaineer and covers all topics necessary to get you into the mountains to make decisions for yourself, and point you in the right directions to continue learning!

You should have a high level of physical fitness, that is, to be able to walk with a heavy pack for 6hrs+ per day, and multi day trip experience. Previous experience with ropes and knots will be an asset, but is not required as there is a degree of variation from dry rock climbing within the alpine environment.
This course covers all aspects of alpine climbing from the very beginning through to the planning and execution of a personal climb on the main divide of the Southern Alps. The time scale of 7-days on the mountain also allows for more appropriate use of the prevailing conditions to best facilitate learning. For example, a more complete understanding of anchor construction and crampon/ice axe develops under different snow conditions. The ability to develop an understanding of the vagaries of mountain weather living high in an alpine environment will be of real advantage, as will the opportunity to observe the development of the snow pack over a long period. The development of climbing technique over different conditions and getting to know other participants well is another great advantage.



All courses are hosted at Ferrier Lodge at Temple Basin Ski Field, located above snow line, approximately 500m above Arthurs Pass proper. With the glaciated peaks of the main divide of the Southern Alps in our backyard, Temple Basin is one of the best places in the world to learn mountaineering skills! The peaks surrounding the ski field in Arthurs Pass National Park provide a wide range of difficulty levels to advance your comfort in exposed terrain, with the lodge never too far away.

Access to the lodge is via a foot track, with a goods lift available to bring your gear up making the walk very pleasant! The lodge boasts a full time chef, a bar with craft beer on tap, and bunkroom accommodation based on four people to each room. The Lodge is very comfortable with a drying room, hot showers, and a large lounge/dining area. Theory and rope skills are hosted inside a specifically designed lecture theatre.

Course content/instruction topics

This course can be catered to participants depending on their level of experience, but will aim to cover:

  • Intro to advanced ice axe and crampon use including double tooling techniques,
  • steep terrain movement and self-arrest with and without tools,
  • snow and ice climbing,
  • snow/ice/rock anchor construction
  • rope skills including abseiling and belaying
  • winter survival and snow caves
  • glacial travel and crevasse rescue
  • risk awareness and avalanche awareness
  • alpine weather analysis and navigation skills
  • route finding and safe travel techniques

Potential Itinerary

Arrive to the hill on Sunday evening during the usual goods-lift operation (4pm-6pm). Dinner on this first night is included in the course fees. Specific activities are highly subject to the weather forecast and conditions, however practical hands-on learning will be the main focus with the aim to spend as much time outside as possible.

The course will begin with a brief lecture and course intro following breakfast on Monday morning. Later in the morning, you may be introduced to crampons and use them outside, while in the afternoon practice self-arresting skills with an ice axe. Tuesday and Wednesday will see you learning skills both outside and inside such as ropes and knots, anchor construction and crevasse rescue, and avalanche awareness and companion rescue. Thursday may be spent climbing your way up towards the divide, practicing and expanding on skills learnt so far, to eventually spend the night in a snow cave in Upper Bills Basin. Friday will see your descent back to the lodge practicing self-arrest skills, navigation and route finding along the way. Friday afternoon would include a deeper look at route finding using maps of the area, to eventually plan a route to climb Mt. Temple or another mountain in the area. The course culminates in planning and executing a group climb on a local peak on the main divide of the Southern Alps. The course will end on Sunday in time for the 4pm-6pm operation of the goods lift.

Gear required

  • 50L Backpack* with pack liner
  • Waterproof trousers and jacket
  • Gaiters
  • Layers of thermal clothing
  • Hat, gloves – more than one pair
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Sleeping bag
  • Heavy tramping boots or mountaineering boots
  • Bivvy bag – for potential night in snow cave
  • Sleeping mat
  • Compass
  • First aid kit including personal medication and treatments for cuts, blisters and pain
  • Head torch with spare batteries
  • Drink bottle – at least 1 litre
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Camera
  • Personal toiletries, towel
  • Sleeping bag- Transceiver, snow shovel and probe*

Personal climbing equipment including:

  • Ice axe and crampons*
  • Hammer*
  • Climbing* or skiing helmet
  • Climbing harness*

The following tools are suggested however, not required.

  • 4 x screw-gate carabiners
  • 4 x snap-link carabiners
  • 1 x belay device – not figure 8 style – 3 x prussic cords – 1m, 2m, 3m
  • 1 x 6m cordelette
  • 1 x 5m sling untied
  • 1 x +/- 20cm ice screw
  • Snow stake*

*May be rented from NZSSI, please enquire for availability


Included in price, accommodation Sunday through Saturday nights. All food and meals provided through to lunch on Sunday.

Participants should be over 18 years of age, of reasonable fitness and previous tramping experience. If you have some pre-existing condition about which the instructor should be aware in an emergency, it is your responsibility to communicate this. Information such as this will be kept confidential.