Private Instruction Course


"...a great transition from rock climbing to mountaineering"

James Graham, Australia, January 2017

"It was an amazing week regardless of the weather conditions. Gianni was a great guide and took time to understand our goals and current experience levels. He then tailored the course objectives to suit. He would watch everything closely and correct any mistakes if we didn't fix them ourselves. Gianni was passionate about climbing and the mountains, and he had a wealth of knowledge. It was great transition from rock climbing to mountaineering."

More Information

While many people have some previous experience with rock or indoor climbing we find that. for a good transition to the alpine environment, you need to start at the beginning.  Previous experience with knots, belaying and rope work will be an asset, but the shift from rock shoes to crampons is a complete change of focus.  This course is the time to concentrate on the skills that will be the foundation for all your future alpine adventures.  Skills such as good footwork with crampons and ice axe technique are essential for your safety.  Our instructor will show you the right way to protect yourself and gain a lifetime of solid technical skills.

The emphasis of our instruction courses is on developing and expanding the essential skills:

  • snow and ice climbing
  • anchors
  • belaying and rope skills
  • alpine rock climbing
  • glacier travel techniques
  • route selection & navigation
  • weather analysis and forecasting
  • avalanche awareness
  • camp management and emergency shelters
  • crevasse and alpine rescue
  • emergency shelters

Available Dates

Available at any time subject to guide availability

5, 6 or 8 day courses


Technical Difficulty

Private Instruction Courses can be tailored to meet your specific requirements.  A good level of fitness and comfort with heights is desired but many people use this course to test themselves for the first time.  Whether you are brand new or looking to push your limits your guide will be able to take you as far as you want to go.

Physical Difficulty

No one will ever tell you that alpine climbing is easy.  The better shape you are in, the more you will be able enjoy the course.  Instruction courses are different than ascents in that we are able to adjust the physical difficulty to the group.  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.  You should be able maintain a slow but steady pace up steep hills for an hour or more while carrying a 10-12kg pack. Good balance and a comfort with heights will be required. The good news is that with a little dedication just about anyone can achieve the required level of fitness.   Endurance workouts are key to building up stamina.  Part of any routine should include pushing your legs and lower body for extended periods of time, preferably with alternating periods of steep up hill and downhill.

Price Details

5 day 6 day 8 day
1:3 $2,500 $2,950 $3,750
1:4 $2,050 $2,400 $3,050

Group 1:3 = 1 guide : 3 clients
For 1:2 prices please inquire 

Length of course is flexible - contact us if you'd like a different number of days.             

What's Included
  • guide fees
  • meals and energy snacks
  • alpine hut / tent accommodation
  • all technical equipment - see equipment section below for details
  • 150 page technical instruction manual
  • radio network or satellite phone comms
  • national park & landing fees
  • 15% goods and services tax.
Not Included:
  • Flights in or out of the mountains

Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Day One

We meet at the Aspiring Guides office in Wanaka at 8:30am for introductions and course outline. Equipment is reviewed and allocated by your guide.  We are fortunate to have several excellent venues to choose from and can move courses to where the conditions are best.  Snow and weather conditions are discussed and once a decision has been made as to the venue for the course (West Coast, Mount Cook or Aspiring regions) we drive to the heli- staging area or airport (2.5-3.5 hrs). Once we have flown in we set up camp using either a snow cave, tent or mountain hut. Self arrest and cramponing are taught and demonstrated by the guide and practiced until it becomes second nature. We go over the basic skills to ensure a consistency of technique before moving onto the more advanced skills.

belay practice

Day Two

Crevasse travel skills are introduced and a walk on the glacier is followed by an introduction to glaciology and route finding by your guide. You can learn to identify the features of the mountains and associated nomenclature.  Efficient movement on snow requires mileage so your guide will keep you moving as you learn to navigate through crevasse fields. Roping up techniques will be practiced as well as how to stop your partner from falling into a crevasse.

Crevasse rescue

Day Three

After an early start, the group heads off to climb a small peak; along the way learning and practicing snow anchors as well as belaying and pitching techniques. Doing short pitches you will learn how to build effective snow anchors and belay your partner.  This is the chance to really learn what type of anchor will work for a given snow condition.  Back at the hut the group takes turn cooking using the menu provided by the guide.  A lesson on weather forecasting after dinner ends the day.

Snowstake Placement

Day Four

Everyone loves to climb ice and today is the day to get technical.  Using a vertical crevasse wall you will get to practice ice axe placements and foot work.  Top roping allows students to push their learning on lower angled slopes before tackling more technical terrain.  Vertical and even overhanging ice can be experimented with in a safe environment.  Learning ice screw placements and albalakovs is essential before trying them “in anger”.

Crevasse Rescue Techniques

Day Five

Alpine rock climbing is totally different from the usual crag or indoor climbing.  Learning judgement and how to use minimal protection takes practice.  Techniques such as slings and threads, friction belays and moving together are all ways to move fast and safe.  Rock climbing in boots and carrying a back pack takes a change in attitude.  If you have never traveled “au cheval” this is where you will get a BIG thrill. In preparation for the next day your guide will teach you prussicking principals in the evening.


Day Six

Last day (six day option)! Packing up and heading to a lower hut will make it easier to get picked up by a helicopter in case the cloud builds up in the afternoon.  Learning to travel light weight will make sense now.  This is a great chance to fine tune your crevasse skills.  Lowering you deep into a crevasse, your guide will look after your safety as you gain the skills needed to self rescue.  An afternoon rendezvous with the helicopter gets you back to the real world.  Back in Wanaka by 5:00pm we usually “debrief” our on our deck with long awaited beverages.

Pioneer Hut

Equipment Details

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

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