Courses are flexible and tailored to your needs
Learn skills to keep you safe in the mountains
Ice climbing practice on the Tasman Glacier
Try before you buy - gear hire is included in the price
Learning crevasse rescue on the Tasman Glacier
Kelman Hut after a storm
Specialized Alpine Climbing Course
Private instruction for experienced mountaineers
[Formerly called our Advanced Climbing Course (ADC)]
Take your climbing further and learn advanced mountaineering skills under expert tuition from NZMGA/IFMGA mountain guides!
This course is ideal for experienced mountaineers or previous mountaineering course participants. It combines instruction with one or more ascents with the emphasis on putting skills into practice by climbing peaks. The low guide-client ratio allows the guide to customize the course to your needs and bring you up-to-speed with modern climbing techniques.
"Why Alpine Recreation? Value for money, instructor to student ratio, company reputation, ability to tailor the course to meet students requirements. A fantastic course, hard to fault."
- J. Colbert, New Zealand. More client comments.
The Specialized Alpine Climbing Course is a challenging mountaineering course based in the high mountains. It covers many advanced mountaineering topics ranging from steep ice climbing and simul-climbing techniques, through to improvised rescue techniques and whiteout navigation.
The course combines instruction with guided mountaineering so you can really put your new skills into practice. Choose from a 1:1, 1:2 or 1:3 guide-client ratio to maximise your learning. The low ratio allows the course to be tailored specifically to your skill level.
|Individual bookings||7 days||1:3|
|returning client discount (on individual bookings), if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
|Private Course Prices (NZ$ per person)|
|1 Person||5 days||1:1|
|2 People||6 days||1:2|
|3 People||7 days||1:3|
|A per person surcharge of NZ will apply to all prices on New Zealand public holidays.|
- IFMGA/NZMGA certified mountain guide
- National Park fees
- Hut accommodation
- Local accommodation for any nights required during the course
- Free transport (Tekapo - Mt. Cook return)
- ALL meals (including snacks & energy bars) for the duration of the course
- ALL technical climbing equipment - this saves you up to $100 compared with other guiding companies!
Meals and accommodation before/after the course are NOT included.
+Minimum Numbers & Course Length
A minimum number of 3 participants is required to run this course (this only applies to individual bookings, not private course bookings). If less than the minimum number is reached, we will run the course you are booked on, with the following changes:
- 2 participants only - the course will be shortened to 6 days.
- 1 participant only - the course will be shortened to 5 days and an additional fee of NZ will apply. Alternatively you will have the option to reschedule to another trip/date or a full refund.
Due to the shorter length, the course start date will be flexible within the scheduled dates (this allows some flexibility for bad weather without affecting your travel plans too much). With a lower guide:client ratio, you benefit by being able to cover the course content in a shorter amount of time.
Our private Specialized Alpine Climbing Courses are ideal for experienced mountaineers looking to lift their skills to new levels. All levels of experience can be catered for with private groups.
Advantages of Private Courses
- Customized to your needs, experience and skill level
- A closed group of 1-3 participants with 1 guide, or up to 6 participants with 2 guides
- Your choice of dates, arranged to fit your schedule (subject to guide availability)
- The following books are available for purchase at time of booking:
- Technical Manual covering course content
- Avalanche Awareness handbook
A course completion certificate is available on request.
Green : Minimum reached - guaranteed departure.
Orange : Only 4 or fewer places available.
Red : No availability.
* New Zealand public holidays incur a surcharge of NZ per person per holiday.
- Steep snow and ice climbing - front-pointing and ice tool techniques
- Alpine rock climbing
- Advanced rock, snow and ice anchors
- Advanced rope techniques - eg. moving together on ridges and running belays
- Glacier travel and advanced crevasse rescue
- Improvised rescue techniques
- Safe route selection and terrain analysis
- Whiteout navigation
- Mountain weather and forecasting
- Snow shelters
- Avalanche hazard management
- Environmental awareness
Several of these topics can be covered indoors if bad weather confines you to the hut.
We aim to improve your proficiency while climbing peaks in the vicinity. Depending on the ability of participants, weather, snow and ice conditions, this may even be a 3000m peak (most of these are only "in condition" early season (November- mid-January), depending on the route chosen). In November-December when there is still lots of snow cover, crevasses will be filled in and there will be very little exposed ice or rock. January-April, when snow has melted back, good alpine rock and ice climbing is more readily available.
Venue: Kelman, Pioneer & Centennial Huts
↑ Kelman Hut
Choice of venue
The venues we choose for our Specialized Alpine Climbing Courses are usually Kelman Hut, at the head of the Tasman Glacier, Pioneer Hut high on the Fox Glacier or Centennial Hut on the Franz Josef Glacier Nevé. Venue can be decided on after discussion between you and the guide to determine your requirements and taking into account hut occupancy, weather and snow conditions.
Kelman, Pioneer and Centennial Huts are public huts that cannot be booked and work on a first come first served basis. Climbers must carry their own sleeping bags and personal equipment to the huts, and a share of the following items, which Alpine Recreation provides: food, stove, fuel and cooking utensils.
Mountaineering Fitness & Experience
We can bring your skill level up to standard, but you need to prepare yourself fitness-wise. If you have not used crampons, ice-axe or a rope before, then you are recommended to start with our Introductory Mountaineering Course. If it's been a few years since you did a course or used crampons and ice-axe, we recommend refreshing your skills on our Intensive Mountaineering Skills Course.
- very high level of fitness (as a minimum, you should be able to climb 300 vertical metres per hour over untracked terrain with at least 12kg in your pack and be able to sustain that for at least 6 hours)
- alpine climbing experience using crampons and ice axe (eg. a previous climbing course - our Intensive Mountaineering Skills Course is ideal preparation)
- rope management skills (eg. rock climbing, abseiling)
Recommended fitness training
- regular exercise or a fitness training programme, eg. uphill walking with a 12kg pack on; weekend hikes of at least 4 hours; jogging (off-road/cross-country if possible for good footwork and coordination), cycling - anything aerobic, giving you a good heart-lung workout
- indoor climbing/rock climbing is recommended for improving and maintaining arm strength and developing psychological preparation for exposure.
8am on the first day. Meeting point is at Alpine Recreation's Edelweiss Lodge, 8 Erebus Place, Lake Tekapo. If you have requested a pick-up from your accommodation, please be ready for pick-up at 7:50am.
You'll meet your guide and once everyone in the group has arrived, your equipment will be checked. No extra cost for any gear you need to borrow - from boots to helmets and technical gear. Your guide will discuss the current mountain weather and avalanche forecasts with you, before the final choice of venue is made.
Drive to chosen airport. Fly in to one of the high alpine huts. We usually arrive at the hut before midday. The afternoon is spent getting familiar with your new playground and beginning instruction on your choice of mountaineering techniques.
The guide will ascertain what needs to be taught by assessing your skill level with crampon and ice tool techniques, snow and ice anchors, belaying methods, etc.; working towards the goal of climbing one or more major peaks in the vicinity.
The final day can be spent on instruction or a short ascent followed by a flight out, or the day can be used to walk back to civilization.
Walking out from any of the venues is not easy and can only be done by very fit groups. It is occasionally spread over the last two days of the course. Walking out is by no means a waste of time as it allows you to put into practice many of the things you have been learning and allows you to experience the full range of mountain terrain. However, most participants opt to fly out in order to maximise use of good weather for climbing.
All of your equipment will be checked during the gear check at our office at the start of your trip. Any equipment you need to borrow from us will be issued by your guide.
Outdoor clothing, packs and boots can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary. Please see the equipment list for further details.