Mountain skills for skiers & riders

Mountain skills for skiers & riders

5 Days, $1500 incl gst, 3 cooked meals/day & 5 nights accommodation

See Calendar for Occurrences

This course is ideal for you if

You are a strong intermediate to advanced skier/rider and want the necessary safety skills to begin exploring remote locations, including glaciated terrain, on skis/board. If you are looking for an affordable course, with premium outdoor access, in a warm lodge complete with showers and a bar, to learn the skills you need to make safe decisions in complex terrain on your own, then this is for you!

The course covers the fundamentals of mountain living, travel, and risk management that can be used in your everyday back-country riding adventures. These skills include snow caving and emergency shelters and rescue, crampon and ice axe use, avalanche rescue and terrain awareness, and touring specific rope skills including self and partner rescue may be covered. This course is a great addition to your Backcountry Avalanche course covering the rest of the skills needed to live and play in the mountains in winter. You should be able to ski/ride down off-piste, intermediate terrain and have a reasonable level of aerobic fitness.



All courses are hosted at Ferrier Lodge at Temple Basin Ski Field, located above snowline, approximately 500m above Arthurs Pass proper. With the glaciated peaks of the main divide of the Southern Alps in our backyard, the comforts and educational amenities within the lodge make Temple Basin one of the best places in the world to learn alpine 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 warm ski lodge always a short descent 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 will take advantage of the terrain surrounding Temple Basin lodge and there will be a focus on learning outside. Indoor learning sessions are based in the purpose built lecture theatre where rope skills can safely be practiced during inclement weather.

The course will focus on route finding and safe travel techniques, while improving your level of comfort at elevation under various snow conditions. This will begin with trip planning, and continue to include navigation, uphill skinning technique, terrain analysis – including avalanche awareness and travel around crevasses – and mountain weather & forecasting. Safety techniques such as avalanche rescue, emergency shelters & snow caves, will also be covered, basic anchors techniques, crevasse rescue and abseiling will be covered if time and group experience allow. Use of an ice axe and crampons will be covered as needed.


The exact details of each course are highly subject to snow and weather conditions – both forecast and observed. The course will run regardless of the weather, as there is always plenty to learn at Temple Basin! An example itinerary is as follows:

Arrive Sunday evening during usual operation of the goodslift (4-6pm) and get settled into the lodge. Monday morning will consist of introductions and a review of avalanche safety and route finding. A basic overview of crampon and ice axe use will be covered if necessary. The afternoon will bring a small tour and practice route finding and uphill travel technique. On Tuesday you will begin practicing the skills necessary for crevasse rescue, and the afternoon will bring the practice outside. On Wednesday you use the lifts to gain quick access to the main divide to practice ridge-top travel, steep skiing techniques, route finding and terrain analysis. You will use topo maps to plan an overnight touring route through the surrounding terrain. Thursday you will execute the planned tour, possibly staying overnight in a snow cave (or returning to the lodge). Friday you will complete the overnight tour, or head out for another day, perhaps ascending a more challenging peak nearby, or executing another longer day-tour.

Gear required

  • Backpack (at least 35L) with pack liner
  • Waterproof pants and jacket
  • Skis with touring bindings & skins OR Snowshoes or split boards & skins
  • Layers of thermal clothing
  • Hat, gloves – more than one pair
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Sleeping bag
  • Compass
  • Ski or Snowboard boots
  • Head torch with spare batteries
  • Drink bottle – at least 1 litre
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Camera
  • Bivouac bag and sleeping mat (for a potential night in a snow cave, emergency bag will due)*
  • First aid kit including personal medication and treatments for cuts, blisters and pain
  • Personal toiletries, towel
  • Transceiver, snow shovel and probe* (however, HIGHLY recommended you have your own)

Personal climbing equipment including:

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

The following are recommended, however are 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
  • Hammer*
  • 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.