Backcountry Skiing Course

COURSE VENUES

   

We operate the course in one of the following venues; Westland National Park or Mt Cook National Park, depending on where conditions are best. Each has its own huge selection of glaciers, bowls and peaks to explore while learning skills.

We will be based from one of the local mountain huts after accessing the glaciers by helicopter or ski plane.  This allows us to start skiing the minute we get up each morning.

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SKILLS THAT YOU WILL LEARN

  • Rope handling skills applicable to Backcountry Skiing
  • Crevasse Rescue
  • Avalanche Awareness and Rescue
  • Route finding
  • Ski and/or Snowboard touring techniques
  • Trip planning and navigation


Factors such as weather and snow conditions may at times dictate that not all topics are covered in full.

HOW THE COURSE OPERATES

We will spend as much time in the mountains as possible actually skiing and riding, whilst developing skills. Initially we will develop and reinforce skills in a contained environment and move onto more challenging terrain during the course if conditions permit.

The emphasis of the course will be on route finding and avalanche awareness techniques and will involve fairly long days where your guides will progressively introduce a wider range of skills and techniques.

Weather plays a major factor in any mountain experience and the New Zealand’s Southern Alps get their share. We intend to run the course according to schedule however as we at the whim of the weather we often have to adjust our program accordingly. This in itself is an important lesson for the group in versatility and objective selection based on the present and forecasted conditions.

COURSE OUTLINE

The course begins at 8.30 am on day one at the Adventure Consultants Office in Wanaka. If you are renting your ski touring equipment, please plan to pick up your equipment from local rental outlets the night before or early in the morning. This will enable us to leave Wanaka ASAP on the Monday morning to get to the mountains. Following the Monday morning introductions, your guide will present the course syllabus outlining how the week will operate.

Equipment pertinent to the course will be discussed and you can get all the advice you need concerning equipment from the guides.  We will ensure that you rental equipment fits and final purchases can be made.

We then drive to our chosen destination (between 1-3 hours), load up the helicopter or plane and fly into the mountains. Leaving our gear in the hut, we’re off for a ski / board!

Each day, depending on conditions, you will be touring around the glaciers while doing workshops on different aspects of backcountry skiing and snowboarding techniques. A few turns are high on the list, as well as a little time to take in your surroundings.

At the end of the course we will make our way to a lower elevation and fly back to our vehicle  (weather permitting) with an approximate 5pm finish on the Friday.

5 DAY SAMPLE ITINERARY

The following is a sample itinerary for the 5-day course option based on a prior course operated in Westland National Park:

Day 1 – We meet at the Adventure Consultants office in Wanaka, have a meet and greet session and discuss the plan for the week including the latest weather forecasting. We sort our gear and drive Fox Glacier township, where we fly into Centennial Hut high on the Franz Josef Glacier.  After some initial transceiver training, we spend the last of the afternoon skiing the bowls of the Chamberlin Snowfield. It’s back to the hut for dinner and a weather talk by our guide.

Day 2 – It’s up early and we tour around to Graham Saddle where we get to ski off the Main Divide! This involves stunning turns down the upper Rudolf Glacier. It’s not all about the turns though as our guide takes us through looking at layers in the snowpack by digging a snow pit. Things are looking stable so we get to ski some steeper lines as we tour back towards Centennial Hut. Back at the hut, it’s a hungry team that devours their dinner with a continued talk on avalanche awareness and what we noted out in the field.

Day 3 – Another fine day dawns so another full days touring is planned. We skin over to Penck Ridge at the beginning of the Fritz Range. We ski the long and powder filled Melchior Glacier. At the toe of the glacier, we break into teams to go through snow anchor building, using our skis and boards and run through a different crevasse rescue techniques. Then we tour back up through the canyonlands type country of the Agassiz Glacier before heading back to our cosy base of Centennial hut. A superb day out. 

Day 4 – High cloud is building today with a deteriorating forecast. It’s time to get out of here! It’s big packs on and out across the mighty Davis Snowfield towards Von Bulow Peaks. For those with the energy levels, climb the peak and ski off and then all down off the pass dropping into the Fox Glacier and the long epic ski down to the door of Chancellor Hut! This historic hut is positioned near the bottom of the snow line right beside the tumbling ice of the Fox Glacier. 

Day 5 – We wake to the sound of keas bouncing on the hut roof. This early morning wake-up gives us time for a couple of laps on the slopes above the hut. Our helicopter picks up and whisks us back to Fox Glacier township where we can freshen up and drive back in Wanaka by early evening.

 

 

Photos

 

Video

 

 

Stories
 

  • THE SCHOOLING
    Insights to the world of ski mountaineering from professional freeride skier Lorraine Huber on Adventure Consultant's Alpine Expedition Course. 

 

  • CAMILLA RUTHERFORD 
    Check out photos and stories from professional photographer, Camilla Rutherford, on a recent Backcountry Skiing Course

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