The Course Notes provide detailed information and background for Adventure Consultants' Backcountry Avalanche Courses.
You can view the trip notes online by clicking the image or download a pdf by clicking the following link:
Backcountry Avalanche Course Notes 2022
The instructors on our New Zealand courses are all NZMGA/IFMGA qualified guides with many years experience, not only in pursuing their own climbing careers, but also in learning how to pass these skills on in an environment which is conducive to accelerated learning.
Our focus is to pass on knowledge that will assist your development towards becoming a competent climber. Many courses focus primarily on techniques that are taught as skills in isolation yet we recognise that you need to learn those skills in context while you are actually climbing the mountain so you know where and when to utilise each technique learned.
Success with the highest margin of care is always a hallmark of our approach; promoting the realisation that even extreme pursuits such as high altitude mountaineering can be undertaken safely.
A founding principle at Adventure Consultants is to recognise the necessity of positive communication within the group to foster an open and friendly approach to communicating and reinforcing learning processes.
Adventure Consultants employs only IFMGA or NZMGA qualified guides, the most advanced training and certification program internationally. In order to gain these qualifications guides must undergo rigorous training and assessment on climbing skills, instructional skills, avalanche training and assessment, wilderness first aid, rescue training and much more. The qualification takes around five years to attain and ensures you are getting a world-class professional service.
Head Office Support Team
Running successful journeys and expeditions is more about experience, knowledge and strategic management than any other factors. As an organisation, we place a substantial amount of time and resources into ensuring our trips are well planned and supported. You can be assured that the AC staff will provide you with friendly advice and knowledgeable support throughout the planning stages of your trip and we will be there to provide backup while the trip is running.
Suze Kelly, General Manager
Suze has been coordinating the office at AC headquarters since 1996 and was our Everest Base Camp Manager in 2000, 2006, 2007 and 2008. Much of the quality of our expeditions and the way we go about things here at AC is owed to the attention to detail which Suze applies in her role. Suze has skied and climbed in New Zealand all her life, including ascents of Mt Aspiring and Mt Cook and internationally she has climbed Island Peak, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Lhotse, Everest and Vinson.
Our registration form requests that you advise us of any medical problems you may have and if you are on any medication. Any information you supply will be treated as confidential.
Level of Experience Required
To make the most of this course, participants should be at least a strong intermediate skier or rider. Some off-piste experience is necessary. Whilst you don't have to be an expert, you will need to ski slopes and bowls that might be untracked. You will also need to have moderate fitness as skiing will be our uphill mode of travel.
Each of our trips is individually rated according to its physical and technical difficulty, displayed in the icons towards the top of each trip page. You can click on the accompanying question mark for additional descriptions and the full run-down of our grading system is available on our Difficulty Ratings page.
Preparing for Your Trip
To make the most of your climbing experience we encourage you to work on your fitness prior to the course. A good level of fitness takes time and commitment and can only be achieved by either training hard or being constantly physically active. When training, it is recommended you carry a pack for long periods on hills and uneven terrain. Over time you should increase the weight the pack until you are comfortable with 15-20kg up and down hills and preferably off-trail. Your own level of enjoyment will be directly related to your level of fitness so it is up to you to ensure you make the best of your time on the course. See our Fitness Training Programs for information on how we can help you prepare for your course.
Wanaka enjoys a wide range of accommodation options, from backpackers, youth hostels, motels and hotels to luxury lodges. Accommodation on this course is not included, allowing you the freedom to choose from the many excellent local establishments. We are happy to assist with accommodation advice and arrangements.
Clothing & Equipment
Skiing in the Southern Alps requires good personal gear due to the potential weather conditions. Our focus is on having the essential clothing and equipment, whilst keeping pack weights as light as possible for your comfort and ease of travel.
Upon sign up, you will be provided with an equipment checklist and your guide will go through this with you on the first morning of the course. The checklist will vary subject to seasonal weather and route conditions. You can also read the following equipment notes which are designed to help you when making decisions about which equipment best suits your personal needs.
Adventure Consultants can help with all your equipment needs prior to your trip departing and have a dedicated equipment coordinator who can answer any questions you may have. Whilst you need to provide your own touring gear, we carry a good range of modern rental equipment. We have snowshoes available for rent for snowboarders or, better yet, we can help you rent a splitboard and climbing skins. For skiers, we can help you rent specialised touring skis, boots and climbing skins. If you will be renting equipment from us please advise your requirements in advance to ensure correct sizing and availability. All group equipment will be organised by your guide, including transceivers, shovel and probe, although we offer discounted package pricing on new equipment for course attendees.
Our extensive retail catalogue and gear store also provide the added service of purchasing your clothing and equipment needs directly from us. We regularly outfit climbers from head to toe to help them prepare for their course, ascent or trek! We also have a range of products available at our headquarters for any last minute purchases on the day of departure.
We can offer secure storage at our office for your luggage and valuables during the trip.
Communication & Messages
Our guides are in radio/cell/satellite phone communication with our operations base and Department of Conservation headquarters throughout the trip. This assists us with schedule and weather forecast updates and safety back up. Urgent messages can be relayed via our office to the field if required. Each course carries a locator beacon for additional security.
We commence this trip from our base in Wanaka. The nearest airport is located in Queenstown, approximately one hour's drive away. Air New Zealand and Jetstar airlines provide daily services to Queenstown from Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington. There are also direct international flights from most major Australian cities.
A shuttle service operates several times daily between Queenstown and Wanaka (from $35 each way), see https://www.ritchies.co.nz/wanaka. We are happy to assist with your transfer arrangements.
Bus services also operate daily between Christchurch and Wanaka (approximately 6 hours' travel time).