Alpine Skills

Mountaineering is about climbing to the top of something and getting down safely.  Here at Hillary Outdoors we have access to the best Alpine Climbing areas in the North Island.  Within an hour of our base we can be high on Mt Ruapehu getting ready to take on some spectacular routes on ice, snow and mixed terrain. There are beautiful gullies, exciting faces, fun ridge lines to climb, and beautiful summits to stand on. This is the ideal training ground for mountaineering further afield.

We have four courses: introductory 2-day and 5-day; intermediate 2-day and 5-day.

Introductory 2-day

Programme overview

This is a brief introduction to the alpine environment giving you the skills to walk most places on Ruapehu safely with the use of crampons and ice axe. After the 2 days, you should be able to confidently choose terrain within your capabilities and to climb many of the summits.

We focus on the basic skills needed to get about safely on the snow in an alpine environment.


  • Use ice axes and crampons while walking about safely in an alpine environment
  • Use of axe for step cutting and self-arresting
  • Terrain selection
  • Understanding a weather map and avalanche forecast
  • Navigation
  • Equipment and clothing available and how to use it correctly
  • Go climbing

Introductory 5-day

Programme overview

This focuses on the skills needed for you and a climbing partner to get about safely on the snow in a more exposed alpine environment.


  • Use ice axes and crampons while walking on steep snow and icy slopes
  • Use of axe for step cutting and self-arresting
  • Getting technical with ropes and anchors
  • Interpret the weather
  • Navigation
  • Avalanche knowledge and terrain selection
  • Avalanche rescue skills
  • Self-management
  • Go climbing

Intermediate 2-day

Programme overview

This short course provides a progression to the 2-day introductory course. Here we will focus on moving into more technical terrain where ropes and anchors are important for safety. This should provide skills to make those South Island trips a safe experience.


  • Use ice axes and crampons while walking on steep snow and icy slopes and mixed terrain.
  • Rope-work for climbing and descending steeper terrain.
  • Two tool climbing techniques
  • Navigation
  • Self and party management

Intermediate 5-day

Programme overview

Move safely and efficiently in a more technical alpine environment and develop skills necessary for independent mountaineering in the South Island

It is expected the participant has attended an introductory course or equivalent and logged some personal experience.


  • Advanced rope-work for climbing and descending steeper, longer and mixed terrain.
  • Two tool climbing techniques
  • Avalanche knowledge
  • Glacier travel and crevasse rescue
  • Poor visibility navigation
  • Understanding weather systems
  • Equipment available
  • Alpine camping including snow shelters
  • Self and party management
  • Go climbing


South Island Preparation

Programme overview

You are confident moving around on Ruapehu with an ice axe and crampons. You are tempted to try something in the big mountains down south but not sure what to expect.  This weekend is designed to help prepare alpinists for that South Island expedition where they will be venturing into glaciated terrain and experiencing long days which may involve bivvying out. This weekend is also good for the more experienced alpinist who would like a refresher before returning south.

Note: we will not be teaching technical climbing skills.


  • Avalanche Awareness
  • Navigation tools and tips
  • Understanding how glaciers work
  • Roping up and travelling to avoid crevasses
  • Self-extraction, assisted and unassisted extraction
  • Long days and the intentional and unintentional bivvy
  • Equipment discussions

Price Includes:

  • 2 or 5 days of specialist instruction
  • Use of some specialist gear and equipment
  • All meals from the first day breakfast through to departure day lunch
  • Accommodation from the arrival night to the night before the course ends
  • Sightseeing lift passes

Location: Hillary Outdoors Tongariro, Tongariro National Park

Please note that courses require a minimum number to be able to run. If the scheduled dates don’t suit, get a group together and book your own tailor made course.
Course Dates Price Apply
Introductory 2-Day 14-16 August 2020 $700