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Comprehensive backcountry avalanche skills course, includes NZ Mountain Safety Council avalanche qualification.

The 4 day Avalanche Skills Course 2 (ASC2) is a comprehensive backcountry avalanche skills course. The 4 day ASC2 Course is for recreational backcountry skiers and snow boarders. This course is the next step course is you have previously participated on an ASC1 course (Avalanche Awareness Course or the Backcountry Travel Course.)

As part of the course you will receive the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council MSC ASC2 Certificate and Avalanche Transceiver Certificate of Competency.

Each day on the course we head into the mountains on a backcountry tour. Queenstown Mountain Guides philosophy is learning skills while moving through the backcountry and we will aim to cover as much terrain as possible as possible so participants can see how the skills they are learning are applied to mountain terrain. Participants will have the opportunity to practice skills for themselves while under the careful supervision of the guide.

The focus of this course is to teach participants avalanche skills & backcountry travel techniques – proper use of backcountry equipment, navigation & route planning, group management, route setting, assessing mountain terrain for safest routes of ascent & descent, & identifying mountain & snowpack areas of concern.

Participants on this course should be able to ski/ride off piste in a variety of conditions. Backcountry travel equipment is required for this course (touring skis or split board). See the equipment list for more details and where to rent gear if needed.


  • Introduction to the avalanche phenomenon – snowpack layering, triggers, avalanche types, avalanche sizes.
  • Avalanche terrain – slope angles, aspects, altitude/elevation, trigger points, terrain traps, avalanche terrain exposure scale
  • Conditions – Identifying signs of snow instability
  • Decision making
  • Safe travel techniques
  • Route finding in avalanche terrain
  • Rescue – Avalanche Transceivers, probing, shovelling technique
  • Using maps to identify avalanche terrain
  • Extended column test
  • Compression test & deep tap test
  • Quick “on the move” tests



  • Proper use of backcountry equipment
  • Route planning
  • Navigation
  • Assessing mountain terrain for safest route of ascent & descent
  • Identifying mountain and snowpack areas of concern
  • Efficient route setting in avalanche terrain
  • Group management ascending and descending


Queenstown backcountry skiing areas – Remarkables, Cardrona, Pisa Range.


The Queenstown Mountain Guides office is located at Unit 403, 875 Frankton Rd in Queenstown. Please meet at our office at 8.00am on the first morning of the course.


Day 1

Meet at the Queenstown Mountain Guides office at 8.00am. Gear check and then full field day in the backcountry.

Day 2-4

Each day we will meet at 8.00am and then head out on a tour at one of the local backcountry areas. The day will start with discussion and learning at the base – this includes a pre trip planning meeting reviewing the avalanche and weather forecast and choosing a suitable objective for the day.


3 to 5 people
4 days
July to September
  • 20th – 23rd July 2024

This trip is available as a pre-organised group trip as well as for private bookings.



  • Guide fees
  • Group equipment
  • Ground transport
  • MSC avalanche assessor card
  • Text book ‘Avalanche Awareness in the New Zealand Backcountry’ by Penny Goddard
  • MSC Backcountry Avalanche Qualification
  • MSC avalanche transceiver competency certificate


  • Personal equipment & clothing
  • Ski touring skis or split board
  • Lift access fees if applicable
  • Avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe (hire available for $60 for 4 days)
  • Lunch & snack food
  • Accomodation in Queenstown


Experience required

This course is for skiers and snow boarders. Participants need the ability to ski/ride off piste in a variety of conditions.

Before the course commences we ask that you complete the online theory course. Please see the link below.

Online theory course and quiz 

What to bring
  • Food and snacks and enough water for each day. The amount of water you will require will depend on your personal hydration habits. As a guideline we recommend a minimum of 1 litre of water.
  • A pack large enough to carry avalanche equipment as well as your spare clothing, food, and water.
  • Warm clothing, windproof jacket and pants, warm gloves, sunglasses or goggles, and sunscreen.
  • Ski touring equipment, split boarding set up, or board and snow shoes. See below for equipment hire.
  • We highly recommend ski touring or split boarding crampons for ski touring in New Zealand. These are especially useful if you are a split boarder.
Clothing & equipment

Skiing & 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. 

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.

Backcountry travel equipment is required for this course. Please contact Small Planet Sports located at 17 Shotover Street in Queenstown to hire ski touring equipment or Snowboard Workshop for splitboard hire
Guide to participant ratios

The maximum guide to participant ratio on our 4 day Backcountry Avalanche Course is 4 participants to 1 guide.

Ski touring Treble Cone Backcountry
Spacing out in avalanche terrain
Learning snow pit test avalanche course
Extended column test