This is the big one. Ten days gives us time to line up a proper weather window for a hut trip in and around New Zealand’s biggest mountians, and plenty of time to explore some of the other great backcountry touring around Canterbury. If you’re looking for a longer hut trip (up to seven days), or you want to explore the club fields and the high mountains, this trip is for you.
We’ll move between Mt Cook and the Craigieburn Range, with the option of stopping in at Methven. The hut based ski and splitboard touring around Aoraki-Mt Cook National Park is amazing. With the chance to line up a good weather window, this trip maximises your chances for good snow in some amazing backcountry terrain. Ride alpine faces amidst glaciers, craggy peaks, and incredible views.
Weather is a key factor in safely accessing and using these mountains. Ten days gives us a good shot at five to seven days of suitable weather to stay in huts in the big mountains, with a back-up plan to ski tour or ride lifts lower down on the other days or if the weather isn’t suitable up high. If you want more of a balance between hut touring and day trips exploring other areas, this trip can cater for that as well. The idea is to give ourselves the best possible chance for good weather up high, with enough time to move to more sheltered areas and keep touring if the weather isn’t on our side.
We typically plan to fly in and out of whatever huts we use. We’ll arrange flights from local helicopter or skiplane companies. Flying in makes the best use of time (walking in and out can take days) and allows us to bring in plenty of good food!
Group size: Generally 4 people, but we could potentially do 5 very light people (the limit is how many a helicopter can carry with food and gear).
Rider ability: Strong intermediate or above.
Fitness level: Moderate or high level of fitness (able to hike uphill on skins or a splitboard for 4 hours a day). Expect to carry a little more safety gear than normal, so expect a slightly heavier pack.
Backcountry experience: You need some backcountry experience to tour on the glaciers - familiarity with your gear and at least five solid days of ski/splitboard touring.
Make sure your group is all at a similar level of fitness, ability and ambition.
Location and accommodation:
Based out of Mount Cook Village and Castle Hill Village in Canterbury. Our day-to-day schedule will vary according to the weather, the group, and how everyone’s feeling.
Potential backcountry huts include Tasman Saddle Hut, Plateau Hut, Pioneer Hut, Centennial Hut, Lady Emily Hut, and the Falcon’s Nest. Touring ranges from major glaciers (Tasman, Murchison, Fox and Franz) to non-glaciated terrain, all above treeline.
Ski areas within striking distance are: Ohau, Dobson, Roundhill, Mt Olympus, Porters, Cheeseman, Broken River, Craigieburn Valley and Temple Basin.
Accommodation is in climbing lodge and backcountry hut style accommodation. Lodges usually have bunk rooms, heating, shared toilets and showers, and communal kitchen/dining areas. Backcountry huts typically have combined bunkroom/kitchen areas, separate shared toilets, and no showers. Some have heating but most don’t. We’ll cater for you, with the option of eating out if we’re not in the hills.
If you’re serious about touring in NZ’s biggest terrain, this trip is for you. We’ll aim for huge open bowls, steep faces, chutes, glaciers, and every other imaginable type of alpine terrain. This is a world of rock, snow and ice, made habitable only by a network of huts perched on ridges and rock outcrops and typically accessed by air. The ski and splitboard touring potential out here is huge, with the opportunity for big vert, big objectives, and big days.
When we’re not up high, we’ll be in the smaller, more sheltered mountain ranges to the east. These have amazing riding - technical chutes, steep faces, and mellow bowls. Throw in some authentic Kiwi ski culture and communities of passionate locals and you’ve got the ingredients for a genuinely good time.
This trip aims to balance big days touring up high with day trips exploring the lower ranges. During the hut trip we’ll be hiking for all our turns, during the rest of the trip we’ll mix backcountry skiing with the odd bit of lift-access if conditions are right and/or the group wants a cruisy day.
A typical day involves around 1600m vert, but for fit, motivated groups we can do well over 2000m. We tailor the terrain we use to the group’s ability and the weather and snow-safety for the day. You’ll need to have some experience ski touring and the ability to carry a 10kg pack each day. We’ll teach you how to do crevasse rescue and/or avalanche rescue as required.
August through September subject to guide availability.
We’re a small company with good guides in high demand. Book early so you don’t miss out.
Bookings closed for 2019. Prices for 2020 TBA.
The trip includes:
Transport to and from Christchurch (or similar in the region) to start and finish your trip.
Transport to and from trailheads/resorts to ski each day.
Nine nights’ accommodation in climbing lodge or backcountry hut style accommodation.
Inbound and outbound flights from Mt Cook Village to Tasman Saddle Hut. If we decide to fly somewhere else (e.g. the West Coast glaciers), it’s possible that flight costs could vary - we’ll discuss that with the group as required. We’ll refund the flight allowance if the trip to the hills doesn’t go ahead.
All meals during the hut trip, and dinner and breakfast for the other days.
Ten days guiding.
We plan to ski or board every day, so make sure you plan to meet us early on day 1 and finish your trip late on day 10 so we have time to go riding.
Tips, tricks and local knowledge from genuine guides with a passion for backcountry skiing.
Daily avalanche safety briefing plus crevasse and avalanche rescue training as required throughout your trip.
It doesn’t include:
Rental gear (we can help you arrange some if required).
Flights to and from NZ.
Lift tickets (we never know if we’ll need them, so it’s easier to get them as we go).
You add option heli-skiing to the trip. Prices will vary depending on where we ski and how the loads work out. There’s awesome heli-skiing out of Mt Cook Village and Methven - if conditions are good it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and totally worth it.