Avalanche Awareness

Avalanche Awareness (MSC Avalanche Skills Course 1)

Ski/board OR foot based courses

2 days, $600 incl gst, 3 cooked meals/day & 2 nights accommodation

See Calendar for Occurrences

This course is ideal for you if:

You want an introduction to the avalanche safety skills needed for travelling in snow-covered alpine terrain. The course is designed for individuals who spend time travelling in an alpine environment, outside of ski area boundaries, but have little or no experience with the avalanche phenomenon. The course focuses on defining avalanches, understanding and interpreting the NZ Avalanche Advisory and weather forecast, personal preparation, route decision-making and rescue skills. It will suit those who are interested in learning about the basics of travelling in an alpine environment and those who may encounter snow and alpine terrain as part of a skiing, snowboarding, tramping, hunting or outdoor trip.

There is no previous experience required for this course. The course will consist of classroom and outdoors hands-on practice, so a reasonable level of fitness is recommended but not required.



All courses are hosted at Ferrier Lodge at Temple Basin Ski Field, located above snowline, approximately 500m above Arthurs Pass proper. The lodge is warm and features hot showers, a bar, and plenty of indoor learning space when the weather is too inclement outside. Our drying room makes quick work of any wet gear you may acquire from time outside.

With the glaciated peaks of the main divide of the Southern Alps in our backyard, steep inbounds chutes and mellow rolling alpine slopes and tarns, Temple Basin has perfect ski touring terrain suitable for all level of backcountry enthusiast from beginner to extreme! The mellow alpine basins in Upper Bills (above 1700m) are host to a consistent snowpack which provides learning opportunities even during the thinnest of seasons. The mellow slopes in Upper Bills provide space to learn to navigation, route finding selection, and access safe terrain to learn about the snowpack and avalanches! The peaks and rocky terrain of Arthurs Pass National Park provide a plethora of terrain to further expand your knowledge with the Temple Basin lodge never too far away.

The Lodge is very comfortable with a drying room, hot showers, a bar, and a large lounge/dining area. Theory and rope skills are hosted inside a specifically designed lecture theatre.

Course content/instruction topics

The course is taught in controlled terrain (within a ski area boundary) of low to moderate-angle where rope protection is not required for safety and there is little or no exposure to heights. It is delivered above the bush line in a snow-covered environment.

We use MSC avalanche curriculum in our courses so you know your knowledge will be at an industry standard level. Key learning outcomes of the course include:

Identify the core principles of pre-trip planning including where to find information and how to use it when planning a trip
Identify avalanche terrain and avalanche types
Demonstrate a fundamental understanding of risk management and route decision-making through awareness of avalanche hazards including snowpack and weather conditions, terrain factors and human factors.
Participate in a companion rescue
Mountain Weather & Field Forecasting
Cold weather first Aid management


Arrive on Friday evening and get settled into the lodge. On Saturday the course will begin between 8:30 and 9am with a session on avalanche basics and how they happen. You will spend the day practicing with avalanche transceivers and learning about companion rescue. There will be additional indoor sessions focused on identifying avalanche terrain and safe travel routes. On Sunday you will be given the chance to put your knowledge to the test, exploring and analysing the in-bounds terrain within the ski area, utilising the lifts to gain access to the higher level terrain and making judgments about the complex avalanche terrain within the ski area.

Gear required

An avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel. These can be rented from NZSSI, however, practice with your own transceiver is highly recommended. A small backpack for gear. A ski touring setup (climbing skins, touring bindings) is ONLY required during ski touring specific courses. Indoor Gear:  Head torch with spare batteries, Drink bottle, Notebook and pencil, Camera, Personal toiletries, Towel, Sleeping bag


Included in price, accommodation Friday and Saturday nights, as well as all meals from dinner on Friday 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.