7 DAY HIGH COUNTRY HUT TRIP - 2019 bookings closed

Join us for hut based ski and splitboard touring in Aoraki-Mt Cook National Park. New Zealand has an extensive network of backcountry huts for hikers, hunters, climbers and - in winter - skiers. These huts extend into New Zealand’s highest mountains, providing access to epic ski and splitboard touring. Ride alpine faces amidst glaciers, craggy peaks, and incredible views. These huts are at higher elevations than most ski areas, providing access to good quality snow and massive terrain.

Weather is a key factor in safely accessing and using these mountains. Over the course of a seven day trip, we’ll aim to spend around four days in the big mountains based out of huts, 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. That gives you a good shot at a usable weather window without committing you to sitting around inside waiting for the skies to clear.

When we’re not up high, we’ll be based around Mount Cook Village or Castle Hill in the Craigieburn Range (depending on weather/timing). There’s plenty of good skiing and boarding in these areas to keep you amused while the weather clears.

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!

Suits:

  • 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 possibly 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.

The riding:

The Main Divide is the spine of mountains that runs along the South Island of New Zealand. High in these hills are 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. The ski and splitboard touring potential out here is huge, with the opportunity for big vert, big objectives, and big days.

Skiing in these mountains is a journey. Usually accessed by helicopter or ski-plane, expect uncrowded mountains and epic scenery. This trip is entirely focused on backcountry touring in these mountains, with the aim of getting a roughly four-day weather window out of a seven-day trip. When the skies clear, we’ll load up the heli and get down to business.

The rest of the time we’ll make use of the wide range of touring areas lower down. The weather is usually a little more tame at lower elevations, and the option of heading to the Craigieburn Range as well as skiing around Mt Cook Village gives us the best possible chance of getting good turns no matter what the weather brings.

Don’t expect to ride your sickest line ever or huck huge cliffs on a trip like this. These are serious mountains and the remote location and challenging environment mean we need to ski within our ability. That said, there’s the potential for plenty of great skiing and boarding in some of the most beautiful mountains anywhere.

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.

When:

  • July 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.

Pricing:

  • 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.

  • Six 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.

  • Seven 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 7 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).

  • Anything else.

Options:

  • You can extend this trip for up to a total of 10 days, prices TBA. Let us know if you’re interested in extending the trip when you fill in the booking form below.