Backcountry Avalanche Course
Four-day backcountry avalanche course.
A comprehensive 4-day backcountry avalanche course for walkers and climbers. This course includes and builds on our very popular 2-day introductory avalanche awareness course. Learn everything from how to use an avalanche transceiver to technical rescues and snowpack analysis.
**Prior experience is not necessary, and gear and equipment is provided**
Backcountry Avalanche course location
The first two days of this course are delivered in the Craigieburn Range, close to Castle Hill village. The course starts in Darfield (30 mins from Christchurch) at 7:30 am. We access the snow at Broken River or Mt Cheeseman ski field and drive to our lodge in Arthurs Pass at the end of the first day. The exact location for the second day will be decided by the group and your instructor during the trip planning session and will vary depending on local weather and snow conditions but will be around the Craigieburn Range.
Day three and four will be based wherever conditions suit best. Again, your instructor and your group will decide on the best location, taking into account the snow and terrain. Options will include Temple Basin and the Otira Valley.
This course is based out of our lodge in Arthur’s Pass Village. The lodge has bunk beds set up across three bedrooms and can sleep up to 20 people. It has a kitchen stocked with utensils, cookware, fridge, ovens. You will also be treated to power, bathroom facilities, hot showers and heating. All you need to bring is your sleeping bag, pillow and food.
**Your accommodation is included**
GEAR & EQUIPMENT
All you will need for this course is waterproof boots and normal outdoor clothing. We will supply all the mountaineering and avalanche equipment for you if you don’t have your own. You can find a packing list and course outline at the bottom of this page.
Food is not provided on this course. We recommend packing plenty of snacks and lunches that do not require cooking. The lodge has a full kitchen & fridge that you are welcome to use. Alternatively, the local pub in Arthurs Pass serves basic meals and refreshments.
If you’re staying in a hotel
Free transport is available from any Christchurch accommodation if you’re travelling from out of town to attend one of our courses.
Meeting locations (catch a ride with us)
If you have your own car and want a lift, we can meet you at one of the following locations.
Yaldhurst Mcdonalds 7:00 am (see on google maps)
*Darfield Bakery 7:30 am (see on google maps)
*Castle Hill Village 8:30 am (see on google maps)
*Our preferred meeting location is Darfield Bakery.
TRAVELLING FROM OUT OF TOWN?
We recommend that you arrive in Christchurch the day before your course. We have a few hotel & hostel suggestions on our FAQ’s page. Please avoid booking accommodation north or east of the city centre. At the end of the course, we are more than happy to drop you back at your accommodation or directly to the airport. The earliest time we can have you back at the airport is 6 pm.
When is the next course?
This course runs from August to November, visit our Course Calendar for course dates and bookings.
* This is the early bird booking price, standard rates available on the course calendar.
Backcountry avalanche course includes
Weather & avalanche forecasts
- Introduction to the NZ BackcountryAvalanche Advisory
- Mountain Weather in NZ
- Pre-trip checks
- Wearing a transceiver
- Coarse search techniques
- Fine search techniques
- Pin-point search techniques
Probing & digging
- Spiral Probing technique
- Snow Shoveling techniques
- Team digging
Safe terrain travel
- Identifying avalanche terrain
- Identifying terrain traps
- Introduction to safe travel techniques
- Buddy rescue
- Small party rescue scenarios
- Maultable berial senarios
- Simple stability tests
- Identifying layers
- Snow crystal identification
- Compression tests
- Extended column tests
To cover the costs of running this type of training, we require a minimum group size of four. We cap the course at eight people and introduce a second instructor once bookings exceed six.
Backcountry avalanche course downloads
SEE WHAT OUR CLIENTS HAVE TO SAY
“Gideon [the instructor] was passionate about the information he was passing on to us and that reflected in the theory teaching and practical…. We were always kept safe and the technical knowledge we gained will keep us informed for a long time. I have taken away a lot away from this course.”
“Got a great deal out of the course in terms of both theory and practice.”
“Communication before and during the course were excellent. Facilities were great. Plenty of chances to practice skills.”