Backcountry Avalanche Course 4 days


This course is based from Aspiring Guides offices on the lakefront in Wanaka, accessing the backcountry from the local skifields.

"A course well run"

Nik, New Zealand

Mark was full of great stories and advice. I really liked his practical approach to assessing snow conditions, reading maps and slopes etc.  He was always keen to chat about snow, mountains, judgements etc. Climbing up to the ridge of Remarkables with a strong NW wind and looking down at the slope thinking.. oh #$@!... but then working though our learnings with Tubbs to make an assessment and then actually committing to it was really rewarding... also learning more about skinning uphill and reading conditions. I feel more knowledgable, yet realistic that there's so much more to learn and get time in the mountains. There's so much to know and it's super interesting. Four days is just the tip of the iceberg, but it really supports everything else I know about the outdoors. It's great doing the back country skiing (of course) but learning all the time about the NZ mountain weather and snow just adds to the bigger picture. 

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


Available Dates

2018 Dates Status
5 - 8 July Completed
3 - 6  August C: 3 places available
6 - 9 Aug Open
25 - 28 Aug Open
13 - 16 Sept 5 places available


C = confirmed to run - Minimum number of 3 booked clients required to run.
We can also run private courses on dates to suit (subject to guide availability) - contact us with your dates.



Technical Difficulty

It is recommended that participants have some familiarity with using touring equipment. For snowboarders, either snowshoes or splitboard can be used. Skiers should be able to ski in off piste conditions but you do not need to be an expert skier or snowboarder.

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 per person
1: 3-5 $1,050

Ask about price for a private one or two person course.

What's Included
  • NZMGA/IFMGA Qualified Guide
  • MSC Backcountry Course - Participant workbook
  • Avalanche Awareness in the New Zealand Backcountry (2008, NZ) Penny Goddard
  • One single ride lift pass for Treble Cone (can be refunded if you have your own pass or not used).
Course participants will be responsible for organising own
  • ski touring & backcountry snowboarding equipment (can be rented in Wanaka
    or Queenstown),
  • transport to/from course venues (maybe be possible to ride share with other
  • food and accommodation in Wanaka for the duration of the course.

Itinerary / Trip Options (multi)

Pre course

Before the start date we often help people with equipment and gear so that the morning the trip starts we are ready to go.  Feel free to ask questions or let us know if you need anything. 

Days One to Four

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.


Equipment Details

This video provides practical demonstration of how alpine ski touring (AT) equipment works.

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