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Learn climbing skills on snow, ice, & rock for the high alpine world.

The Private Mountaineering Course allows you to choose the dates and level of challenge that suits you.

This course can be tailored to suit beginners looking to learn the basic montaineering skills through to advanced climbers wanting to focus on lead climbing in the alpine environment.

Novice clients can expect to learn fundamental mounatineering skills.

For advanced clients we will use a combination of guided mountaineering and instruction with you lead climbing under the expert supervision of your guide.

This course is based from a helicopter accessed high mountain hut. Likely venues for the course are Tasman Saddle Hut at the head of the Tasman Glacier, Pioneer Hut at the head of the Fox Glacier, or Plateau Hut underneath Mt Cook & Mt Tasman.


  • Climbing knots
  • Ice axe use & climbing techniques
  • Glacier travel
  • Cramponing technique on easy, moderate, and steep terrain
  • Self arresting
  • Belaying
  • Use of a climbing rope on snow, ice, rock, and alpine ridge lines
  • Crevasse rescue
  • Rock climbing
  • Ice climbing
  • Decision making and judgment
  • Weather analysis
  • Avalanche awareness & rescue skills
  • Map & compass use & route finding
  • Snow anchors
  • Rock anchors


  • Modern light & fast climbing technique
  • Tactics for success on big mountains
  • Lead climbing on snow, rock, & ice
  • Placing snow, rock, & ice protection while lead climbing
  • Snow, rock, & ice anchors
  • Use of a climbing rope on snow, ice, rock, and alpine ridge lines
  • Descent techniques including rappelling & down pitching.



  • Mt Walter
  • Hochstetter Dome
  • Mt Aylmer
  • Mt Ellie De Beaumont
  • Mt Abel
  • Mt Ledenfield
  • Mt Haidinger
  • Glacier Peak
  • Mt Aurora
  • Minarets
  • Glacier Dome Ridge Traverse
  • Anzac Peaks


Private mountaineering courses are based from helicopter accessed high mountain huts in the Southern Alps. Locations that we use for our program include Tasman Saddle Hut at the head of the Tasman Glacier,  Plateau Hut underneath Mt Cook & Mt Tasman, and Pioneer Hut at the head of the Fox Glacier.


Your guide will meet with you at 8.30am on the first day of the trip at your accomodation. Alternatively, you are welcome to come to our office at Unit 403, 875 Frankton Rd in Queenstown.


Note that this itinerary is a sample only. Your final itinerary is subject to weather and other conditions.

Day 1

Meet at your accomodation at 8.30am for introductions and a gear check before we drive to Mt Cook village and airport. Once we arrive at the airport we will go through a helicopter safety briefing before flying into Plateau Hut. Once at Plateau Hut we get organised in the hut before having a review of rope work techniques for roping up for glacier travel. We have a review equipment and packing for alpine climbing and organise our packs for a climb the next day. Please note that sometimes because of weather it is not possible to fly into the mountains on the first day, but we will fly in at the first possible time. If we cannot fly in we will make use of the time teaching important rope work skills that will be used while climbing.

Day 2

Todays objective is a traverse of the Glacier Dome ridge, learning skills while travelling through mountaineering terrain. On our climb we review climbing techniques, snow, ice, and rock anchor building techniques, belaying techniques, placing snow, rock, & ice protection while lead climbing, use of a climbing rope on snow, ice, rock, and alpine ridge lines, and descent techniques including rappelling & down pitching.

Day 3

An early start, we are awake at 4am and are travelling across the Grand Plateau by 5am towards Anzac Peaks. Its time to put the skills we learned yesterday on Glacier Dome into use. We pitch our way up Anzac Peaks and then descend using a combination of down climbing and rappelling back to the glacier. By 2pm the weather has deteriorated and we head back to Plateau Hut.

Day 4

We awake to the sound of gale force winds and rain outside the hut. After breakfast we have an indoor lesson on crevasse rescue rope work. This lesson includes self rescue by prussiking out of a crevasse, and 2:1 & 6:1 assisted and unassisted hoist rescue systems.

The weather continues to rage outside for the afternoon. After lunch we continue with rope work skills and then do a theory lesson on decision making, navigation and route finding in the mountains. Depending on your interests we can give theory lessons on navigation, weather in the New Zealand mountains, and avalanche awareness.

Day 5

The weather has cleared and its time to go climbing again. Todays objective is a 5 pitch route on the south east ridge on Mt Dixon. This is an exciting route requiring snow, ice and rock climbing skills to complete. If you are a climbing team of two or three your guide can climb along side you as you lead climb, coaching you on climbing technique, placing protection, and anchor building. A combination of guided mountaineering and instruction will be used while climbing.

Day 6

We awake up at 3am and are travelling towards the base of Mt Dixon’s east ridge by 4am. At 5am as it is just starting to get light we are starting up the first pitch of Mt Dixon. Climbing a 3000m peak is a big day and requires fast movement while using the skills you have learned efficiently. The route requires the use of snow and ice climbing techniques. We place runners for protection as we move together along the exposed summit ridge line. Summiting Mt Dixon is the highlight of the trip and from the summit you can see  New Zealand’s highest mountains. Your guide will be able to point out future climbing objectives for your next mountaineering trip in New Zealand. 

Day 7

This is the last morning in Plateau Hut. Its time to head out of the mountains before the next weather system arrives. At 11am the helicopter arrives and we share a flight out with some other climbers that climbed Mt Cook yesterday. After packing equipment we make the drive back to Queenstown.



1 to 4 people
4 to 10 days
From $1,800
Mid October to April


4 days$4,890$2,790$2,150$1,800
5 days$5,890$3,400$2,650$2,200
6 days$6,950$4,000$3,100$2,600
7 days$7,950$4,600$3,550$3,000


  • Guide fees
  • Technical equipment hire
  • Hut fees
  • Meals and snacks
  • Ground transport
  • Group equipment


  • Personal equipment & clothing
  • Aircraft access & egress fees
  • Accomodation in Queenstown & Wanaka


Experience required

For this trip, the minimum requirement is that you have an intermediate level of fitness and an interest in learning climbing & mountaineering skills. Previous climbing experience is helpful but not required.

Clothing & equipment

Climbing in the New Zealand mountains requires that you have high quality equipment and clothing due to the extremes of weather we experience. Please ensure you look carefully at our equipment checklist. At the start of the trip your guide will go through your equipment and make sure that you have everything that you need for the trip. Please organise to have your extra equipment stored at your accomodation for the duration of the trip.

It is important that you keep as close as possible to the equipment checklist. The focus is on ensuring that you have the equipment you need, but also on keeping your pack as light as possible. If your guide is meeting you at your accomodation for the start of the trip it would be helpful if you have all your equipment and clothing organised and laid out in a logical fashion so they can check that everyone has the right equipment and clothing for the trip.


In the mountains you will stay in mountains huts. These dormitory style huts are cosy and provide good shelter form the elements, they are all located in spectacular locations, but they are also basic. The huts have water, cooking facilities, a mountain radio, and a bunk area with individual mattresses. There are no showers or electrical sockets for recharging.

For overnights in Mt Cook village & Fox Glacier we will stay in the New Zealand Alpine Club huts. These dormitory style huts have shared bathroom facilities.

Accomodation in Queenstown before or after the trip is not included in trip costs.

To organise accomodation in Queenstown, we recommend Here you will find a wide range of accomodation depending on your preferred style and budget. The cost of accomodation in Queenstown is not included in your trip costs.

Daily trip logistics

Every day in the mountains is different with changing weather, snowpack, and access conditions. When you book your trip with Queenstown Mountain Guides we will discuss your goals for the trip and the general plan. When you meet with your guide on the first morning of your trip your guide will discuss with you the weather forecast and current conditions and make a final plan for the trip. It is best to be flexible so we can ensure that you will make the most of your time with us.

At the start of the trip we will fly into the mountains at the first possible opportunity.

Each day in the mountains will typically start at 7.00am. On some days for example a serious alpine climbing objective you may be required to start climbing by as early as 2.00am to make the most of the safe frozen early morning conditions and quick glacier travel.

On any poor weather days it is possible to learn skills inside the hut – for example cliff and crevasse rescue, navigation, weather theory, avalanche awareness.

On the final day of the trip we will aim to have you back in Queenstown by approximately 5.00pm.

Aircraft access & egress

The flight into and out of the mountains is not included in the trip cost. Our goal is to minimise the cost of the flight out by sharing the cost of flights with other climbing and skiing parties when possible.

The below costs include GST and are the total price of the helicopter and this cost will be divided by the number of clients in the helicopter. For example Plateau hut 2 clients plus guide the cost would be $535 per client for a drop off.

*All prices are subject to availability and occasional change by aircraft operators.

Mt Cook Region.

Plateau Hut: $1,070. Max 5 passengers.

Upper Tasman Glacier – Kelman Hut & Tasman Saddle Hut: $1,430. Max 5 passengers.

Lower Tasman Glacier Pickup: $1,070. Max 5 passengers.

Fox Glacier Region.

Upper Fox & Franz Joseph Glaciers Drop Off – Pioneer & Centennial Hut: $1,050. Max 4 passengers.

Upper Fox & Franz Joseph Glaciers Drop Off – Pioneer & Centennial Hut: $770. Max 3 passengers.

Lower Fox Glacier Pickup – Chancellor Hut: $575. Max 4 passengers.

Lower Fox Glacier Pickup – Chancellor Hut:  $420. Max 3 passengers.

Mt Aspiring Region.

Mt Aspiring – Bevan Col: $1,250. Max 5 passengers.

Fiordland Region.

Mitre Peak Fiordland: $950. Max 5 passengers.

Turners Bivy – Darran Mountains: $1,430. Max 5 passengers.

Guide to participant ratios

The maximum guide to participant ratio that we operate at is 1 guide to 4 participants. For groups larger than 4 participants extra guides are needed.

For climbing serious alpine routes (grade 3 or more e.g. Mt Cook & Mt Tasman) we only guide at a 1:1 ratio.

For groups of 2 or more your guide can teach your team to operate as an individual climbing team i.e of conditions are right you will get to experience lead climbing with your guide climbing next to you helping.

Ice climbing
Climbing an alpine ridge line
Multi-pitch climbing on snow and ice
Steep alpine climbing near Plateau Hut Mt Cook