Month Long Intensive


Aspiring Guides is based in the stunning resort town of lakeside Wanaka on the South Island, an area perfectly located for accessing some of the best terrain and locations for hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering, ice and mixed climbing.  

" A well structured, well paced course"

Travis, Brisbane, Australia

"We had the freedom to be on our own rope teams but with the right level of supervision and guidance particularly when doing our practice scenarios eg crevasse rescue - go at our own pace and steps, but Andrea was there and watching and stepped in when we needed it.  I feel like I have a sound understanding, and appreciation to practice everything before heading back out, on what I need to do for basic mountaineering adventures to build my skill set. Were still able to get great learning on bad weather days. Andrea was really personable and worked with us. A very professional, entertaining, and fun course to give us the basics and confidence to mountaineer."


More Information

Our 2019 program will run from the 10th June to the 5th July.

It is structured as four 5-day long modules, including at 4 field days and 1 classroom day each week covering background theory and planning to make the most of all the time in the field. This leaves the weekends to recover, explore our region or undertake some local trips and missions to consolidate the skills learnt on the course.


  • Rock climbing: Sport and traditional climbing techniques including belaying, leading, abseiling, placing protection and creating anchors. Also includes performance and movement skills training to progress climbing technique.
  • Winter hiking: Navigation, trip planning, route finding and responsible camping and bivouac skills.
  • Backcountry avalanche and rescue (Mountain Saftey Council NZ accredited)
  • Mountaineering skills: Moving over snow and mixed terrain
  • Glacier travel and  crevasse Rescue
  • Alpine rock climbing: Multi-pitch climbing techniques and rope rescue techniques
  • Ice and mixed climbing: Steep ice and mixed climbing techniques, placing protection and building anchors.

Available Dates

10th June - 5th July COMPLETED
Ask us about our 2 week course   


Technical Difficulty

This course is designed as an development of mountaineering skills. Previous experience with knots, indoor or outdoor climbing, belaying and rope work will be an asset. This course is the time to concentrate on the skills that will be the foundation for all your future alpine adventures. 

Physical Difficulty

No one will ever tell you that mountaineering is easy. The better shape you are in, the more you will be able enjoy the course. Some days are spent with learning focused activity while other days are more physically challenging. Expect to be pushed hard physically but there will be time to recharge your batteries.  Participants need to be accustomed to regular exercise. 

Price Details

Guide Ratio Price  
1:4 NZ$6,050
1:3 NZ$7,250
1:2 NZ$9,550


What's Included
  • Aspiring Guides - Month Long Mountain Intensive certificate
  • Mountain Safety Council - Backcountry Avalanche Course certificate
  • Aspiring Guides - Technical Mountaineering Manual (2018) 
  • Avalanche Awareness in the New Zealand Backcountry (2008), Penny Goddard
  • guide fees
  • meals and energy snacks
  • Camping or backpacker accommodation away from Wanaka
  • technical equipment - see equipment section below for details
  • radio network or satellite phone comms
  • national park & landing fees
  • 15% goods and services tax.
Not included :
  • accomodation and meals in Wanaka

Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Week One


We meet at the Aspiring Guides office in Wanaka for introductions and course outline. Discuss aims and goals. Equipment is reviewed and allocated by your guide. 

The first week is based out of local Wanaka rock climbing crags. Wanaka has a variety of beautiful locations for rock climbing suitable for anyone from beginners to experts.  The area boasts thousands of single and multi-pitch, traditional and bolted rock climbs for all abilities within 20 minutes drive of the town centre in the beautiful idyllic setting of the Matukituki Valley, the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park. You are surrounded by lake and mountain views. Whether you have tried rock climbing before or are completely new,  this will introduce and develop fundamental rock climbing skills including ropework, safety, movement and footwork. You will gain confidence in your skills, exposure to heights and trusting the rope. You will get more comfortable handling the ropes in the principles of pitching and belaying.

One day will be spent covering a mix of navigation and trip planning techniques with the opportunity to go out and practice these skills close to Wanaka before having to use them for real on the Winter Mountain Skills module the following week.

One afternoon will be spent on avalanche awareness theory and preparing for the next week.

You will begin to get to know and to work with your fellow students. During the following weeks the group's ability to function well together will be important to the success of the program.


Week Two


Travel from Wanaka 1.5 hours to the Remarkables mountains near Queenstown and spend two days getting introduced to winter conditions and snow travel. This includes avalanche awareness and use of transceiver, shovel and probe for avalanche rescue, crampon and ice axe use, and snowshoeing. You will begin to apply your navigation and route finding skills to winter mountain travel.

On the third day, relocate to the Pisa mountain range accessed from the Cardrona Valley. This area has stunning views, from the Central Otago ranges in the east, the Southern Lakes and the length of the Southern Alps to the Remarkables, through Mt Aspiring and all the way to Aoraki/Mount Cook. Undertake a 2 day winter mountain journey exploring the valleys, ridges and tors of the range. This will be self-led under the guidance of your guides and give you the opportunity to work on winter hiking skills as well as camping and cooking out in the snow.

The classroom day will focus on mountain weather and Navigation and preparing for Alpine Rock week.

Week Three


The first two days will introduce and develop more advanced rock climbings skills such as placing protection, creating anchors, multi-pitching and rescue. The focus is on efficient techniques and systems to climb safely and quickly on longer and more committing multi-pitch and alpine rock routes.

On day three, travel from Wanaka 2.5 hours over the scenic Lindis Pass to the Mackenzie basin, along the shore of Lake Pukaki and into the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Spend two days  refining multi-pitch climbing techniques on the Sebastopol Bluffs You will be able to apply your new skills to long climbs which demand far more efficiency and better route finding judgment. This scenic location has  stunning views up the Tasman and Hooker valleys to the glaciers and summits of the National Park. Spend the night at the NZAC Unwin lodge and travel back to Wanaka at the end of the second day.

One day will be spent preparing for the Winter Mountaineering week.

Week Four


Travel back to the Remarkables and spend three days introducing winter alpine climbing skills. This includes trying ice and mixed climbing and dry tooling. If conditions allow, there will be the option to snow cave or bivouac out under the stars. You will also cover  glacier travel skills, plus how to rescue yourself or your partner from a crevasse. 

This week will culminate in a self-led ascent of Single Cone under the supervision and guidance of your guides. This summit has jaw dropping views down to Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, and the ascent will put all the skills covered over the last few weeks to the test.

The final day will include a program debrief, discussing next steps, further training, careers in the outdoors and professional qualifications. This will be an opportunity to reflect on all the new skills that you have developed and the future adventures that await you. This is capped of with a Graduation dinner to celebrate your achievements over the last month.

Winter Alpine Mountaineering

Equipment Details

This video provides practical demonstration of the common equipment and clothing required for mountaineering.

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