Canterbury Mountaineering Club Instruction Programme 2020

All courses are run by professional instructors at an instructor to student ratio of 1:4 (except for avalanche awareness which is 1:6).

Courses are normally based at one of the Club’s base huts (Wyn Irwin at Mt Cook or Kennedy Lodge at Arthurs Pass), although some courses may be based at alpine huts or make use of tents or snow shelters. Generally, the intermediate course will involve spending Saturday night in an alpine shelter if the weather and conditions permit.

Payment is required to confirm your place on the course. Refunds are not available for non-attendance once booked and confirmed (unless someone else takes your place).

Participants are expected to have their own climbing gear (including ropes, protection, skis, depending on the course).

Some equipment can be hired from outdoor shops (e.g. Bivouac) if necessary. A general gear list is available, but your instructor may provide you with further advice on the gear you should bring. Your instructors are happy to answer any questions in advance of the course.

If you have any questions, contact the Instruction Coordinator, Alastair McDowell (

Snow Craft

This course is held over a weekend, often based out of Kennedy’s Lodge in Arthurs Pass. An information evening session is held on Friday night in Christchurch to give everyone a chance to meet each other and for the instructor to give a plan for the weekend, arrange transport.


  • Using an ice axe
  • Walking in snow without crampons
  • Walking in snow with ice axe and crampons
  • Self-arrest
  • Mountain weather
  • Rope skills are not taught on this course

Ratio: One instructor to four students
Cost: $175 for members
Dates: August 22-23

Intermediate Mountaineering

This course is held over a weekend, and participants do an overnight trip based out of a hut. You are expected to have undertaken a Snowcraft course or have equivalent experience in using ice axe and crampons, and knowledge of self-arrest. No previous experience with rope skills is required – however, please ensure you can tie the knots listed below.

An information evening session is held on Friday night in Christchurch to give everyone a chance to meet each other and for the instructor to give a plan for the weekend, arrange transport etc.


  • Snow anchors (in particular, snow stakes, though your instructor may incorporate ice screws and rock anchors to some degree)
  • Belaying
  • Pitching
  • Prussiking
  • Moving Safely on exposed terrain
  • Knots

You need to be able to tie the following knots: figure of eight, alpine butterfly, clove hitch, Italian hitch, double fisherman.

Ratio: One instructor to four students
Cost: $225 for members
Dates: July 25-26, August 1-2

Avalanche awareness course

The course is aimed at those with little avalanche knowledge. This course will suit those who intend to travel on alpine terrain and are looking for entry-level instruction. It is a 2 day course. There is no assessment, but participants will receive a certificate of attendance.


  • Prerequisites: · Snowcraft course or equivalent experience and Completion of the free online avalanche education modules at
  • Identify Avalanche Terrain
  • Introduction to snowpack
  • Travel planning
  • Information gathering
  • Introduction to rescue

Ratio: One instructor to 6 students
Cost: (split between participants)

$1870  – Based on 1:6 Ratio (only 1 guide needed)
$3250  – Based on 2:12 ratio (2 guides needed)

Dates: Friday July 24th evening – Sunday July 26th evening

Glacier Ski mountaineering course

5 days of ski touring and ski mountaineering based at one of the high alpine huts in the Mount Cook region. Either Tasman Saddle, Barron Saddle or Grand Plateau. We will use the best weather and snow to select our venue.


  • 5 days (+2 days weather contingency) guided ski mountaineering


  • Avalanche Education to AVO Awareness as a minimum
  • Previous Mountaineering experience (ie roping up / knots / climbing)
  • This is not aimed at first time climbers or skiers
  • Strong intermediate skiers with previous experience ski touring in small groups

Ratio: One instructor to 4 students
Cost: $4040 divided between students
Dates: (Meet at Wyn Irwin the Sunday evening prior)

  • Monday September 7th to Sunday September 13th
  • Monday September 21st to Sunday September 27th

back country avalanche (MSC 4 day Course)

  • Refine your back country travel skills
  • Learn to identify and travel confidently through avalanche terrain
  • Learn the basics on forecasting and identifying primary hazard
  • Learn how to identify the correct snowpack test to apply
  • Group Rescue Scenario

Option for Heli Accessed Ski Touring
Whale Stream, Twin Streams, Mt Mary

Ratio     1:4 MAX

2 x evening Lectures
4 days Touring / Terrain / Snowpack + Lectures

Total Course Costs (split between participants)

$3290 = 1 guide (max 4 clients)
$5995  = 2 guides (Max 8 Clients)


Education Tools (From MSC) – Need to be pre-ordered

$50 / Person
Avo Evaluator Card
Avo Rescue Card
Back Country Avalanche Awareness Text Book
MSC Certificate

Heli Access (Based on 0:15 flying time and a load of 4 + Guide)
$185 / Each

Strong intermediate skiers with powder skiing experience
Some previous Ski Touring Experience
Previous avalanche awareness program or equivalent
Own Ski touring equipment
Own Avalanche rescue Equipment

Dates: (meet at Wyn Irwin the previous evening)

  • Tuesday 28th July – Friday evening 31st July
  • Friday 31st July – Monday 3rd August
  • Friday 14th August – Monday 17th August


Course Objectives
The aim of this program is to develop intermediate mountaineers skills towards more independent mountaineering trips and ascents.

We will also be completing a MSC Avalanche Awareness program for Mountaineers (as opposed to skiers).

If you have Mt Aspiring as an objective then this course will help you refine or develop the skills and experience you need to complete climbs similar to Mt Aspiring.

Depending on group ability, weather and Conditions an ascent of Mt Aspiring may be possible. Otherwise we will focus on other mountain objectives.

Prior Experience
You are expected to be a solid intermediate climber on both rock and snow. You will have completed a number of either personal or club trips to peaks that may not involve glaciation or limited amounts of glaciation. Multi-pitch rock climbing is not a prerequisite but is a bonus. Climbing wise (both rock and snow) you will already be able to use a belay device, abseil and understand the concepts of anchor construction (Snow, Natural Pro, Bolts). Avalanche wise – no prior formal avalanche education is needed – if you do already have some avalanche education then this program will help you consolidate what you already know and expand your experience.

Ratio 1:4
Course Dates
HAS#11120 (2nd – 8th  November)
HAS#21220 (30th Nov – 6th December)

Heli Access – 1050 for load (to be paid on day of access)
Course Costs – $5320 (to be split between participants – $1330 pp based on 1:4 ratio)

Based from Wanaka with Mt Aspiring National PArk as objective. Potential to change location depending on conditions and weather


Course Document and Gear List