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Ski Mountaineering & backcountry avalanche course for developing ski mountaineering and backcountry avalanche skills in glaciated terrain. 

Queenstown Mountain Guides Ski Mountaineering & Backcountry Avalanche Course is for skiers and snow boarders wanting to develop ski mountaineering and backcountry avalanche skills in glaciated terrain. The 6 day course includes the NZ Mountain Safety Council (MSC) Backcountry Avalanche Qualification.

Our 6 day Ski Mountaineering Course is based from a high mountain hut located in New Zealand’s premier ski mountaineering and ski touring areas. Deep immersion in the Southern Alps amongst New Zealand’s highest mountains and largest glaciers.

Queenstown Mountain Guides philosophy is learning skills while skiing & climbing so participants can see how the skills they are learning are applied to mountain terrain. The focus of the Ski Mountaineering & Snowboarding Camp is movement through the mountains while learning fundamental ski mountaineering and avalanche skills.

The trip starts from Queenstown. Depending on the weather forecast for the week, we will choose the location with the best conditions. This could be the Tasman or Murchison Glaciers, the Fox or Franz Joseph glaciers, or one of many other epic and world class ski mountaineering and ski touring locations. Once at the staging area we will fly into the mountains by ski plane or helicopter.

The focus of the week is to is to ski/board as much as possible. Along the way our guide will also help you build on your technique and skills in the mountains with skills workshops. These will include – avalanche rescue, terrain analysis, and decision making in the mountains. See below for further details on instruction topics.

The Ski Mountaineering & Backcountry Avalanche Course has a formal assessment of avalanche rescue skills. On successful completion participants will be issued with the NZ Mountain Safety Council (MSC) Backcountry Avalanche Qualification and certificate of confidence for their avalanche transceiver rescue.


    • Uphill skinning technique
    • Terrain analysis & route finding in avalanche terrain
    • Snowpack factors (layers, basic metamorphism)
    • Group travel in avalanche terrain
    • Transceiver use and avalanche rescue techniques
    • Avalanche hazard assessment
    • Crevasse rescue
    • Navigation
    • Mountain weather analysis & forecasting
    • Emergency shelters


    • Minarets (3040m) 800m + ski descent
    • Elie De Beaumont (3,109m) 800 m + ski descent
    • Pioneer to Chancellor Hut 1000m ski descent
    • Hochsetter Dome (2810m) 500m+ ski descent
    • Murchison Headwall descent to Murchison Hut
    • Mt Hamilton, Bonney Glacier, and Turnbull Glaciers 700m + ski descent
    • Whataroa Saddle and Mannering Glacier, Aida Glacier, Mount Cooper 800m + ski descent


    Mt Cook National Park


    The Queenstown Mountain Guides office is located at Unit 403, 875 Frankton Rd in Queenstown. Please meet at our office at 8.30am on the first morning of the course.


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

    On the first morning of the camp we will meet at 8.30am at our office in Queenstown. We will discuss current snow & mountain conditions and look at the weather forecast for the trip. The final decision on the camp location will be decided by the guide and based on the location that will provide the best conditions for the week.

    Your guide will check through all of your equipment and make sure you have everything you need for the trip. After the equipment check we will travel to the mountains. This will take approximately 2.5 depending on the location of the trip. Once we arrive at the location we will fly into the mountains at the first opportunity.

    Each day typically starts at around 7.00am with breakfast and preparations before heading out into the mountains for the day.

    On the first day you will get warmed up with your guide assessing your skills and fitness. What you can achieve on the camp is dependant on your groups level of fitness, skiing & technical ability and goals for the week.

    Mountain conditions are changing constantly. Every day on a Ski Mountaineering Camp is different and unique. Your guide will assess the mountain conditions daily and plan the best use of the current conditions.

    As with all mountain ranges in the world New Zealand’s Southern alps receive their share of poor weather. On poor weather days skills workshops will be held inside or near the hut to make the most of the learning opportunity while you are in the mountains with an experienced guide. See above for possible instruction topics.


    3 to 4 people
    6 days
    July to October

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



    6 days$7,095$3,600$3,095$2,600


    • Guide fees
    • Flights into and out of the mountains
    • Technical equipment hire
    • Avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe
    • Text book ‘Avalanche Awareness in the New Zealand Backcountry’ by Penny Goddard
    • MSC Backcountry Avalanche Qualification
    • MSC Backcountry Avalanche Qualification
    • Hut fees
    • Ground transport
    • Group equipment
    • Meals and snacks


    • Personal equipment & clothing
    • Ski touring skis & boot hire


    Experience required

    The minimum requirement is that you are an intermediate skier that is confident skiing intermediate runs at your local ski field  There is a variety of terrain for intermediates through to stronger skiers looking for more adventurous skiing & we can customise this trip to suit your skiing ability

    What to bring
    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. 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.

    Ski touring equipment and split boards can be hired from Small Planet Outdoors, 17 Shotover St, Queenstown. For snowboarders Queenstown Mountain Guides rents snow shoes for $25 per day that can be used as an alternative to a split board setup.

    Accomodation during 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 we may start earlier, for example if we have a serious ski mountaineering objective that requires an early start.

    On any poor weather days it is possible to learn skills inside the hut – for example 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.

    Guide to participant ratios

    The maximum guide to participant ratio that we ski guide in glaciated at is 1 guide to 4 participants. In glaciated terrain groups larger than 4 participants require an extra guide. In non glaciated terrain we can run trips with 6 participants to 1 guide.

    Man in green jacket standing in skis
    Mountain hut
    Digging into snow
    Man skiing by rocky mountain