Mountain skills for trampers and climbers

Mountain skills for trampers and climbers

5 Days, $1250 incl gst, all food & accommodation

See Calendar for Occurrences

This course is ideal for you if

You have previous experience tramping/trekking and are looking to gain skills to continue your trips during the winter in the alpine environment. Take your current tramping skills and develop the awareness and skills to access the alpine environment above the bush line safely in winter conditions. This course is designed to give you the basic skills to get you into the mountains to make decisions for yourself, and point you in the right directions to continue learning! It is designed to be similar to our intensive 7-day mountaineering course, however, skip some of the more advanced techniques such as pure ice climbing. By staying at Temple Basin for the weekend following the course, lessons learned over the 5-days can be practiced and solidified while you meet more like-minded members of the alpine community.



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, nearby gorges, ice, and bolted rock routes, Temple Basin is one of the best places in the world to learn mountaineering skills! The peaks and rocky terrain of 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

The course will culminate in the planning and execution of a climb on the main divide of the Southern Alps. The extended time spent living high in an alpine environment allows participants a more thorough understanding of the vagaries of mountain weather and the changes in the snowpack. The 5-days of instruction offers plenty of opportunities for weather and snowpack dependent learning, for example, you will learn more from self-arresting and travel on different snow conditions.

The elevation of the lodge allows for close proximity to various peaks offering a wide breadth of skill development and inspiration!  The development of climbing technique over different conditions and getting to know other participants well is another great advantage.

The course will include:

Personal management in an alpine environment
Alpine movement – footwork, crampon and ice axe travel
Non-technical rope use
Off-track/poor visibility navigation and trip planning
NZ weather forecasting (both in the field and planning trips)
Avalanche Awareness
Camp craft and winter camping
Risk management and planning
Cold weather first aid management


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.

All courses are weather dependent, but a potential course may be as follows. 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 avalanche awareness and companion rescue, weather forecasting and trip planning, and alpine navigation techniques. Wednesday afternoon may be spent climbing your way up towards the divide, to spend the night in a snow cave in Upper Bills Basin.  Thursday will see your descent back to the lodge practicing self-arrest skills, navigation and route finding along the way where you will spend the afternoon planning an ascent of Mt. Temple or another local peak.  After assessing the avalanche condition and safe travel routes you will spend the day practicing skills learned so far to gain a winter summit in Arthurs Pass National Park. The course will end around 4pm and set you up for a weekend to put your new skills into practice!

Gear required

  • 50L Backpack* with pack liner
  • Shell/storm jacket and pants – waterproof and breathable
  • Gaiters
  • Layers of thermal clothing
  • Hat, gloves – more than one pair
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Sleeping bag, sleeping mat
  • Transceiver, snow shovel and probe*
  • Bivvy bag* – for potential snow cave overnight
  • Compass
  • Head torch with spare batteries
  • Drink bottle – at least 1 litre
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Camera
  • First aid kit including personal medication and treatments for cuts, blisters and pain
  • Personal toiletries, towel

Personal climbing equipment including:

  • Heavy tramping boots with a stiff sole or mountaineering boots
  • Ice axe and crampons*
  • Climbing* or skiing helmet
  • Climbing harness and hardware*
  • Transceiver, shovel, probe*

The following tools are suggested however, not required.

  • 1 x +/- 20cm ice screw
  • Snow stake*

*May be rented from NZSSI, please enquire for availability


Included in price, all meals from Sunday evening through until Friday lunch, accommodation from Sunday through Thursday nights.

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.