Top rope Ice climbing Course NZ Mount Cook 2016

Beginner/Intermediate Mountaineering Course

The Beginner & Intermediate Mountaineering Course is a flexible course that works at your level depending on whether you are a new to mountaineering or have some previous experience. The course covers everything you need to know to stay safe and have an enjoyable experience in an alpine environment under the supervision of a guide. The aim of the course is to provide you with a sound basis for beginning mountaineering, covering all the  aspects of mountaineering techniques, equipment, safety and trip planning. At the completion of the course, you will be able to walk and climb safely in moderate alpine terrain with a guide. This course also provides an excellent preparation for those planning to further develop their skills and experience on our Advanced Mountaineering Course and Guided Ascent Program.

Beginner & Intermediate Mountaineering Course Overview

Unlike other courses which may involve a lot of travel/trekking to different locations/huts, we are based at one hut to maximise your instruction and climbing time. The course is run only for individuals or private groups. The advantage of booking a private mountaineering course (for yourself or with a group of people you know of similar fitness and skill level) is that you are less likely to be held back by people in your group who are unfit or otherwise unsuited to the course. This ensures that you can maximise your experience and enjoyment and chances of achieving your goals. The course is 6 days duration, based at Kelman or Plateau Hut in Mt Cook National Park. These areas provide a superb base for a beginner course due to its easy accessibility and range of mountain terrain (to maximise your climbing experiences) and reliable weather. Note: course duration can be flexible ie. 4-5days duration if you are on a tight schedule (note: this decreases climbing time if weather conditions are not ideal).

The 6 day course will cover the following:

  • Safe glacier travel – how to navigate and travel safely across glaciated terrain.
  • Climbing at altitude  – health and safety considerations, an overview of high altitude issues, acclimatisation regimes etc.
  • Basic rope skills – basic rope handling and knots, roping up for glacier travel, belaying skills and equipment.
  • Climbing skills – introduction to top-rope climbing on rock and ice.
  • Summit attempt (practising what you have learned) – plan and climb a beginner level peak with assistance from your guides.

Fitness Prerequisites: No previous climbing experience is necessary, however, you should be able to walk in mountaineering boots on uneven/loose/rocky steep terrain carrying a 12 kg pack without difficulty. Ability to walk safely in exposed conditions without fear of heights or problems with vertigo (dizziness) or other issues affecting balance or vision.

Previous Experience: A high level of fitness is required in order to undertake the course. Ability to jog 8 km at a moderate pace within an hour. Ability to easily hike to 300-metre increase in elevation (eg. from sea level to 300 metres in altitude) with a 12 kg pack within an hour.

Minimum Numbers: Course can be booked privately for one person and for a group of up to four participants per guide (if you want a group booking you must provide the other participants).

Course Dates: In the event of bad weather (or any other unforeseen events) that require a change of course location, additional costs (eg. transport) may be incurred. Any alteration to the schedule and/or costs will be discussed with participants before being finalised.

Course Details: Our courses are run on demand from October to April. Contact us if you would like more information or to book a course.

Course Prices: prices are in NZD for a 6 day course.  

  • $1300 pp group of 4
  • $1600 pp group of 3
  • $2400 pp group of 2
  • $4500 for 1 person

Bad weather itinerary: In the event of bad weather (or any other unforeseen events) that requires a change of course location, additional costs (eg. transport) may be incurred. Any alteration to the schedule and/or costs will be discussed with participants before being finalised.

Included In Fee:

  • All Guides fees & expenses
  • Hut fees (bed)
  • Hire of technical gear (harness, crampons, helmet  and ice axe)
  • Breakfast, lunch, drinks & snacks during the course

Not Included In Fee:

  • Accommodation/flights before & after course
  • Personal clothing/equipment (we can give you a list of recommended items to bring)
  • Mountaineering boots (bring your own or we will assist you to buy a pair wholesale through our company at the start of the course)
  • Helicopter access

Accommodation: During the course, we will be staying at Plateau or Kelman Hut. Your fee covers overnight stay in a bunk style dormitory.


Day one Meet at 8am at Lake Tekapo for introductions, trip briefing and gear check. After gear check, drive to Mt Cook village and take a helicopter to Kelman or Plateau Hut. Upon arrival at the hut, after settling in and a coffee break, we commence the course, beginning with basic rope skills and abseiling.

Day two Trek for half and hour to the glacier  to learn basic skills for use of crampons, ice axes and roping up for glacier travel. After lunch, we continue with skills for travelling safely in glaciated terrain (eg. crevasse awareness). If the crevasses are open, we will commence basic ice climbing skills and self-rescue techniques.

Day three Introduction to rock climbing. We spend the day on the rocky bluffs near the hut, which offer a range of interesting single pitch sports climbing. You will learn rope skills for climbing, belaying and top rope climbing. If time permits we will cover the introduction to lead climbing (using a top rope for protection).

Day four Putting the skills learned in day 1-3 into practise, you will learn how to plan and undertake a climb of the Hochstetter Dome (2827m) or Anzac Peaks (2528m) under the supervision of your guide. The approach to the mountain is a walk on glaciated terrain and the climb involves 5 pitches on rock and ice to the summit. Once you summit you will enjoy stunning views of the Mt Cook area, so don’t forget your camera! Return to the hut for a well-deserved coffee or a beer! The total trip time from start to finish is approximately 7-8 hours.

Day five and six Day five and six depending on weather and snow/ice conditions, we may climb another summit or practise more advanced rock climbing or ice climbing skills. After lunch on Day 6, we depart the hut and make our way back to Mount Cook Village.

* Note: Standard itinerary above may vary according to client ability, weather and snow/ice conditions.  Click here for more info to to book now.