Winter Alpine Mountaineering


The Remarkables Range offers great winter alpine mountaineering and climbing.  

Scenery was amazing

Peter, Australia

Bivvying up in the Remarkables and waking up to the views was my favourite part of the course.   I learnt enough to keep me going for a couple of years and the scenery was amazing.

More Information

Winter climbing is the ultimate in alpine challenge. Winter conditions can result in cold temperatures, wild weather and potenial avalanche conditions.

This course takes advantage of the easy access we have at the Remarkables Conservation Area beyond the Remarkables ski field. In summer this area offers the South Island's most accessible multi-pitch alpine climbing, in winter the high altitude means consistent snow and ice without the limitations of a glaciated environment. Objectives during the course include winter walking around the Upper Wye Valley, ascending Single Cone or Double Cone, moderate alpine peaks with amazing views of the Wakitupu basin, or more technical ice and mixed climbing routes. There is also the option of flying (extra) into the well known ice climbing venue at the head of Wye Creek for part of the course.

Accommodation will be based in Frankton Motor Camp in a tourist flat providing the opportunity to come down, dry out and warm up at night. Depending on your goals, there is also an option to learn the delights of a winter alpine camp or bivy in the mountains.

Course syllabus includes:

  • Mountain hazards identification and avoidance including avalanche awareness.
  • Mountain weather. 
  • Crampon and ice axe techniques for snow, ice and mixed climbing.
  • ​Rope management including belaying, abseiling and rescue.
  • Protection and anchors on rock, snow and ice.
  • Camp management including a winter bivouac.
  • Route selection and navigation.
  • Equipment and clothing selection in the winter.  
  • Trip planning including  assessment of weather and conditions, human factors and terrain.

The course emphasis is placed on learning to become self sufficient in the winter alpine environment. At the end of the course you will be a competent member of a mountaineering team, being able to contribute to decision making on mountaineering expeditions, attempt summits via routes  graded 1 to 2 (NZ grade) or undertake guided ascents of more technical objectives. 

This course is an ideal way of developing your alpine climbing skills in preparation for future Mount Aspiring or Aoraki/ Mount Cook ascents. 

Available Dates

Trip 2019 Dates Status
Intro  26 - 29 June COMPLETED
Technical 3 - 6 July COMPLETED
Intro 9 - 12 July COMPLETED
Technical 20 - 23 July COMPLETED
Technical 2 - 5 August COMPLETED
Intro 10 - 13 August 1 place available
Technical 21 - 24 August FULL
Intro 31 August - 3 Sept 2 places available
Technical 25 - 28 Sept Open
Intro 2 - 5 Oct OPEN
Technical 12-15 Oct FULL

We are taking bookings for 2019, get in quick for this popular course.

Introductory Courses max guide:client ratio 1:4
Technical Courses max guide:client ratio 1:2

Dates don't suit?  Or course already full?  
Contact us and we'll see what we can do. 


Technical Difficulty

This course is designed for people with all levels of experience. Courses will be scheduled according to ability.

For the Advanced Courses, which are limited to a 1:2 ratio, participants should have some mountaineering experience and be competent climbing up to grade 17 on rock and have good belaying skills. Participants should have some experience with placing natural rock protection. Ice climbing grades are notoriously fickle, but you can expect sections of near vertical with occasional rock mixed in. 

Physical Difficulty

The better shape you are in, the more you will be able enjoy the course. Instruction courses are different to 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.

Steep ice and mixed climbing requires strong leg and calf muscles. Steep hills are best to get you up on your toes. Hiking trips in your rigid soled boots will give your calves a workout. Try “front pointing” up steep hills as much as possible. Participants need to be accustomed to regular exercise. You should be able to 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.

Price Details

Guide Ratio Price $NZ
1:1 $5,150
1:2 $2,950
1:3 $2,450
1:4 $1,950
What's Included
  • NZMGA or IFMGA qualified guide
  • meals and energy snacks
  • basic accommodation at Frankton Motor Camp in hut/chalet 
  • camping equipment for snowcave / bivi / tent overnight option at Remarkables 
  • national park fees
  • 15% goods and services tax.
  • technical equipment - see equipment section below for details 
  • Aspiring Guides Technical Manual
  • one day weather contingency 
Not included
  • optional flight into Wye Creek


Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Day before pre-trip meeting

We meet at the Aspiring Guides office in Wanaka at 5:30pm for a pre-trip meeting. Introductions are made and course outline reviewed. Equipment is checked and allocated by your guide.  Any last minute questions are answered regarding gear. Plans are made for an early start the following morning.

Day One

We meet early in the morning at our office in Wanaka and drive to the base at the Remarkables Ski Area (1.5 hours).  The drive over the Crown Range Road is fantastic and by the time you reach the Remarkables you will know all you need about New Zealand mountain roads!  A short hike takes you to the day’s venue at the base of the East Face of Double Cone. There are short water ice leads to get your ice climbing head into gear.  Placing ice screws and proper footwork and tool placements will be covered.  The descent to Queenstown and a hot shower and dinner will be well appreciated. We stay at the Frankton Motor Camp in tourist flat accommodation.

Self Arrest Practice

Day Two

With and alpine start you will reach the East Face of Single Cone just before the sun comes up.  This is the ideal practice environment with many features and route variations to choose from.  You will need rock and ice placements and it is a good chance to work on your rope management.  The descent down the Grand Couloir will leave you time for a couple ice pitches on the lower crag before setting up camp for the night.  Often we opt for a snow cave but either caving or tenting on the edge of Lake Alta will be a great way to spend the night.  

Snow Caving

Day Three

After a good warm up hiking over Wye Saddle your guide will lead you around to the South Face of Single Cone.  This is a bit longer and steeper and you and your partner will need all your skills.  The guide will work closely with you as you practice your multipitching.  Usually there will be some dry tooling involved on the thinner sections.  It’s your choice either to bivi or head back to the Frankton Motor Camp  - usually the weather forecast is a big help in deciding! 


Day Four

Last day and a new venue.  The West Face of Double Cone is famous for its cold winter mixed climbing and for the fact that it is the most photographed rock wall in New Zealand due to it’s position dominating the view from Queenstown.  Two hours hiking brings you to Queens Drive which is a shelf that traverses the face.  There are climbs varying from easy to some of the hardest around.  This is multipitch mixed heaven and a fitting last day’s effort.  You have the option of remaining in Queenstown, heading to the airport for homeward travel, or returning to Wanaka with your guide.

Winter Climbing

Equipment Details

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