Backcountry Avalanche Course


This course is based from Aspiring Guides offices on the lakefront in Wanaka.

This is a professionally run course that emphasizes hands-on experience.

Cheryl, Dunedin, New Zealand

This course was a fantastic introduction to avalanches generally, to reading NZ terrain and weather, to safe travel and rescue techniques, and to general considerations for heading out into areas with avalanche risk. I hoped to come away from the course with a heightened sense of awareness about the sorts of conditions and terrain that could produce avalanches, and to make informed decisions about route selection (and whether or not to go at all). And the course provided exactly this sort of training. The weather also contributed immensely to my learning in the course. Where I was (and still am somewhat) wary of traveling in whiteout conditions or conditions with low visibility, experiencing these conditions, and having a guide like Dan who talked us through specific challenges associated with the conditions, instilled in me a bit more confidence about safely negotiating the terrain, should I find myself in similar conditions in the future.

More Information

Course includes:

  • Mountain weather - Understand the basics on what type of weather is most dangerous and how to use modern weather forecasting to plan your trip.
  • Decision making - Learn how to make choices based on empirical evidence
  • Avalanche terrain - Aspect, elevation and angle all combine to make avalanches possible, learn what to avoid.
  • Route selection - Learn to travel safely by choosing the best route.
  • Companion rescue - If an avalanche happens, you will need to trust yourself and your companions to rescue anyone buried.
  • Safety equipment - Learn to use avalanche transceivers and proper shoveling techniques

Optional Additions :

  • Spend one or more nights out camping or snow caving
  •  Fly in/out of our private hut at Black Peak

Available Dates

Dates 2018 Status
18 - 21 June Completed
7 - 10 Sept Open

Dates don't suit? Contact us and we will see what we can do.
Also if you would like a private course for your own group we can discuss other dates.


Technical Difficulty
It is recommended that participants have some familiarity with winter backcountry travel.

Physical Difficulty
A moderate level of fitness is required.  Participants need to be able to travel up steep hills and be strong enough to handle variable conditions.

Price Details

Guide Ratio Price
1:6 $1050 per person

Minimum number to run scheduled course is 3 pax, but we can run private courses for less people.

Course participants will be responsible for organising their own transport to & from the course venues, food, and accommodation in Wanaka for the duration of the course. 


What's Included

NZMGA/IFMGA Qualified Guide

MSC Backcountry Course - Participant workbook

Avalanche Awareness in the New Zealand Backcountry (2008, NZ)
Penny Goddard

Extra costs apply if tent/snow cave/Black Peak options are chosen.


Frequently Asked Questions About This Trip

Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Days 1 - 4

Each day we meet at the Aspiring Guides office in Wanaka at 8:30.  After a gear check we go to that day's field destination.  Your instructor will pick which venue is most appropriate for the day's weather and snow conditions.  Instruction will start at the beginning and learning will be broken into manageable parts.


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