Backcountry Avalanche

Backcountry Avalanche

5 Days, $1250 gst incl

See Calendar for Occurrences

This course is ideal for you if:

You are looking to upskill your knowledge of avalanches and feel more confident making your own decisions in the backcountry. You should have a basic knowledges of avalanches and how they work as well as previous backcountry touring experience. A reasonable level of fitness is highly recommended.



All courses are hosted at Ferrier Lodge at Temple Basin Ski Field, located above snowline, approximately 500m above Arthurs Pass proper. 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

The course will add to knowledge learned in the basic avalanche safety course and cover topics in further detail. The basic topics will be expanded upon, such as avalanche mechanics, companion rescue, weather and forecasting stability, and route finding. Additional topics covered will include snowpack analysis (layers, crystal identification), human factors in decision making, and observation techniques. Completion of this course will leave you feeling more confident in your ability to make safe decisions while travelling in the backcountry. It will give you the confidence and knowledge of how to seek out further information to further your knowledge on your own.


While the exact itinerary will be determined based on the weather and snow conditions during the course, the following is a possible scenario. Arrive the night before your course and familiarize yourself with the lodge – get settled in! The course will begin with a classroom session focused on avalanche mechanics. In the afternoon you will be outside and dig snow pits, putting your new snow mechanics knowledge to the test. The next morning you will spend inside discussing weather and the formation of the snowpack. You will head outside and go for a small tour with skis to find a different location to dig snow pits, and begin making judgements about what terrain is safe. The following morning will bring another indoor lecture on route finding, decision making, and the human factor. You will put this knowledge to work in the afternoon when you go on another tour around the ski area. You will begin making your own judgements about which terrain will be more subject to avalanches. On the 4th day you will put all this information together to make your own assessment of safe terrain to travel and ski/ride in and put it to use! By the final day you will be comfortable making your own assessments of safe terrain to travel given the current avalanche advisory and you will learn how to make your own predictions of snowpack stability based on weather forecasts.

Gear required

Personal avalanche transceivers, probes and shovels are required as familiarity with your own rescue equipment is the most important. Alpine touring gear (skis or snowboard) are not required, but highly recommended. Snowshoes may be hired from NZSSI if necessary.


Included in price, all instruction and course materials, and all accommodation and meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) beginning with dinner the night before the course begins, and ending with lunch on the final day of instruction. Please book any additional nights and food separately if you wish to stay longer (and put your new skills to use!).

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.