This course will teach you the essential skills of backcountry skiing. It will help you to develop your abilities to anticipate potential hazards, to identify risks and how to minimize them.
Instruction topics include:
- Trip planning and equipment choice
- Uphill movement and skinning technique
- Refining off-piste technique
- Avalanche awareness and hazard management
- Avalanche rescue skills (using transceiver, shovel & probe)
- Terrain analysis and safe route selection
- Mountain weather
- Snow shelters.
Bad weather options: Rex Simpson Hut makes a good classroom if weather forces us inside. It's rare to have more than half a day of hut-confining weather in the Two Thumb Range.
Fitness: A high level of fitness is required. Participants need to carry a backpack of about 8 kg plus their skis for 3 hours to the hut (550 vertical metres). On subsequent days packs will be light, but participants will be doing the equivalent of a six-hour walk/climb. Previous tramping or hiking experience is essential.
Skiing ability: The Two Thumb Range is suitable for intermediate to advanced skiers. Guides will give instruction on downhill technique as needed. If you have little or no off-piste skiing experience, we recommend spending 1-2 days before the tour with our private ski instructor at one of our local ski fields (Mt. Dobson, Roundhill or Ohau).
Ski Touring experience: No previous ski touring experience is required, however you are expected to have at least an intermediate level of downhill skiing ability (safe turns in untracked snow). Note: For a non-skiing option we recommend Snowshoe Hikes in the Lake Tekapo High Country.
First Day: 8 am gear check at our office, 30 Murray Place, Lake Tekapo. From Lake Tekapo township we drive along the lakeshore to the head of Lake Tekapo. 3 hours' hike/ski with a climb of 550 m/1805 t brings us to the cosy Rex Simpson Hut, at 1300 m/4265 ft, in the Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park. Afternoon ski tour and instruction. As the hut is fully stocked we only need to carry some fresh items of food (e.g. bread, fruit, vegetables, meat) and our personal clothing and equipment.
Subsequent Day(s): Day tours from Rex Simpson Hut with instruction in the field. There are several large basins and valley systems that provide ideal touring terrain for intermediate to advanced alpine skiers. Great views of Mounts Cook and Tasman from the ridge leading up from the hut, nicknamed "Snake Ridge". Please refer to the "Tour Options" section.
Last Day: Return to Lake Tekapo, after a 3-5 hour ski tour in the morning, arriving back around 5:00 pm.
Mt. Gerald Stream: From hut, around the corner, up Mt Gerald Stream and onto the plateau of Mt Gerald itself, with views down to Lilybank Station and up the Godley Valley and across Lake Tekapo. Return same way or cross Snake Ridge and follow down to hut. 3 hours return.
Snake Ridge - Beuzenberg Peak: Up to saddle looking into Camp Stream, then up onto Snake Ridge, following all the way up to Beuzenberg Peak, 2070 m. A variety of descent options ranging in steepness on both the west and eastern sides of Snake Ridge. Great views of East Face of Mount Cook, Mt Tasman and other Main Divide peaks as you gain height along the ridge. 6 hours return.
Pyramid Peak: Cross Camp Stream and head up to "Pyramid Peak" to the southeast, 1641 m. Multiple descent options from here, including the south ridge down to an old musterers' hut. Return via Camp Stream Gorge or a steeper descent route to Camp Stream from the south ridge. 4 hours return.
Camp Stream Traverse: Up to saddle behind hut, down into Camp Stream valley and up a peak, 1666 m, on the eastern side for grand views into the next valley and a different perspective of the Main Divide. This ski tour can be extended into the next valley or up Peak 1972. 3 hours return.
Peak 1972: A good option for advanced skiers. As for Camp Stream Traverse, but sidle to the saddle north of Peak 1666. From here either follow the ridge to the summit of Peak 1972 or sidle around terraces on the eastern side. A long steep descent route back into Camp Stream valley. 5 hours return.
There are many variations on these tours. It's possible to spend 5-7 days based at Rex Simpson Hut and explore new territory every day, only crossing your previous ski tracks near the hut.
- 2-6 participants per guide, up to 10 with 2 guides. 5% returning client discount, if you have been on our trip before.
- Individual bookings welcome. If you end up being the only person on a course you will have the option of changing to another date or a full refund.
- Please note that on public holidays there will be a surcharge of NZ$80 per person per day.
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