Guided alpine climbing in New Zealand

Mountain guiding in NZ

Simon with Mt Cook behind him, note the two climbers on the left

Experienced mountaineer Simon from the UK decided to add New Zealand’s highest to his ‘collection’ of summits around the world. His wife and him had this to say about their week here and the guided alpine climbing ascents trip to Aoraki-Mt Cook:

“Thank you Iris for making my stay so welcoming and showing me around your paradise. Great food, company and lovely Ziggy walks. Fantastic scenery. Thanks to Gary for taking Simon to the ‘top’ and bring him back safely. Merry Christmas – lots of love”. Jacki, and: “so lovely to have met you, having lovely people like you in the world makes life so rich.”

“Thanks for all your hospitality and to Gary for arranging perfect summit day weather and getting me up and down safely and even bringing me breakfast in bed the morning of the climb”, Simon

From us: it was awesome to meet such a wonderful, adventurous couple and share such precious times together!

Private Mountaineering Instruction course, New Zealand

guided climb of Mt Aspiring

Andy and Dave, behind them Mt Aspiring – Tititea

A testimonial :

Gary, our wives and children thank you for safely delivering home their two Aussie husbands (mid-40’s) from a recent 6day mountaineering instructional course in New Zealand’s Mt Aspiring National Park. We arrived with a good level of physical fitness and a healthy dose of trepidation given we had no real mountaineering experience between us. Gaz, reviewed our clothing before distributing necessary climbing gear and food and then we headed into the mountains via helicopter. Gary’s professionalism quickly became apparent as he tailored a logical instruction framework with constant risk assessment whilst providing respectful critique of our efforts throughout. We gained exposure to crampon travel over rock, ice and snow; an array of safety knots as well as both short rope and glacial travel roping techniques. Gary’s ‘keep it simple’ philosophy helped us grow in confidence as we trained in anticipation of a summit opportunity during our stay at Colin Todd Hut only to be dealt a poor hand by the weather gods. Not to worry, our hut day was filled with indoor classes in map reading, glacial navigation, weather forecasting and prussiking.  Our instruction also covered off on anchoring, self-arrest and crevasse rescue techniques all of which enhanced our comfort levels and our skills. The hike out required a solid effort so be warned. An awesome experience, an extremely experienced guide and leader, a magnificent amphitheater in which to learn new skills and be at one with nature in New Zealand’s majestic Southern Alps. Highly recommended, we’ll be back!


Andrew & Dave (Dec 2014, Sydney, Australia)

Thanks Andrew and Dave, we look forward to welcome you back for some more Pure Alpinism fun!

Happy New Year to you and yours

From climbing in Europe to ski touring in NZ

A mountaineering guest of ISM – International School of Mountaineering – sent this feedback about a week with our chief guide Gaz in the Swiss Alps during last August:

Hi Gary,
Just a quick note to say thank you for a great week in the hills last week, even if the weather didn’t fully cooperate.  Your deep knowledge of “the alpine”, your participation in international guide diplomacy/policy making, your teaching abilities (and patience), your local community involvement, your broad and varied interests, your good company, and of course your sense of humor are nothing short of inspiring.  All of the rest of us have a lot to work on…

Thanks Ed!

Alpinism adventures from Wanaka

Early morning full moon over Treble Cone in September

Mountaineering instruction courses in New Zealand

Alpine climbing instruction course in NZ

Mic, Monty and Pat high up on the Fox Glacier, New Zealand


A few months ago, we heard from Mic who had climbed Mt Cook as well as Mt Tasman with Gaz some years ago. He was keen to introduce his son Pat to Alpinism adventures and last month, together with his longtime mountaineering buddy Monty, the threesome arrived for a seven day mountaineering instruction course. At the base, this was the opportunity to finalize the latest Adventure Tourism auditing request and then our team hit the road to Fox Glacier; photos on the last blog but here now the feedback:

from Monty, after his fourth trip:

” Thank you very much again for a wonderful and friendly experience. I always come away from climbing trips with ‘Gaz’ with more confidence and desire for more mountain excursions. I know Mick and I will be planning our next trip as soon as we get back home. Gaz, your patient tutorial towards Pat in getting him to understand the complexity of climbing and how he can still enjoy it was most beneficial & assuring. A great mentor.

Iris, your hospitality as always was warm and generous. Till next time, Monty”

Thanks Monty, we look forward to it!


Technical Mountaineering Instruction Course

P1010001 P1010003 P1010011 Matt from Australia, January 2013:

“I absolutely enjoyed my time with Alpinism and Ski.  The TMC course was an excellent course which provided much of the training I was hoping to attain.  Gaz’s knowledge was incredible, and he taught me a great deal which I could not learn in Australia.  Though, those crevasses are bloody dangerous, and it was nice to get an introduction to them.  Both Gaz’s and Iris’s hospitality in Wanaka was a welcome attribute, and I enjoyed the charm of the town.  Also, Ziggy is an awesome dog.  Reminds me of my Samson.  I will be recommending Alpinism and Ski to anyone who is interested in learning any of their courses or looking for guiding.  I’m sure I’ll be back soon.  Thanks again!”

Guiding in Mt Cook National Park

A guided climb of NZ’s highest with mountaineer Peter from Wellington ended the year for Gary Dickson. 2013 has started well with a mountaineering instruction course and may it go on like that. Here is what Peter had to say:

“Due to the flexibility and vast alpine experience offered by Alpinism and Ski I finally realised a long held goal to reach the top of Mount Cook in December 2012, the month following my 50th birthday. I also enjoyed a warm up on Anzac East and a warm down on a traverse of Double and Single Cones on the Remarkables, as well as some heart warming southern hospitality back at Wanaka – all in five fabulous days. Aoraki Mount Cook has been my most ambitious climb so far and the sheer scale of the terrain deeply impressed me. Without Gary it would have also scared me in places but, his utter dedication to safety and professional, efficient guiding ensured that I could just absorb and really enjoy it. I also learnt much on the other end of Gary’s rope.

My time with Gary and Iris surpassed my expectations and hopes. For the best alpine experience, safety and service look no further.”

guiding in Mt Cook Nat. Park

guided climb of Mt Cook Aoraki

Alpinism and Ski mountaineering adventures

New Zealand Ski Touring

September on Fox glacier

Guestbook entries late winter and spring 2012. Ski touring visitors from Australia who spent time on the Fox glacier-Pioneer hut. They were keen to improve their skills for further alpinism and ski activities and mountain adventures around the globe. It was a great pleasure!

“Thank you for a really wonderful trip. Gary, your experience in mountain guiding showed us a lot of wonderful scenes of NZ and taught us a lot of mountaineering skills. We must also thank you for your hospitality in hosting us at your wonderful house. Peter Huang”

“We had a wonderful time during the week that we spent with you. Being our first trip (in ski touring) we learnt a lot of new skills, all of which we will put to good use back in Australia and beyond. Hopefully we will meet again soon after we have spent more time on the slopes learning how to ski! Iris thank you for your hospitality and especially the lamb roast (the) last night.Your friendliness and warmth really makes up for Gary’s sarcasm which we had to endure during the time that we were away! John Cheng” and from Hideko: “we hope to come back one day (soon!) as better skiers”

We think they might have the bug for ski touring and will be back for more, some pictures here


ISM – Alpinism instruction, mountaineering course

Mountaineering in Europe

Michael and James, a week with ISM, here on Tête Blanche

August last year, Thanks for the feed back and photos Michael:

“Dear Gary,

On behalf of James and myself, thank you very much for an excellent week at the Orny and Dix huts.  It was an ideal mix of instruction, rockclimbing, snow and ice experience, and mountaineering on mixed terrain.  Mt Blanc de Cheilon was a great way to end the week – a beautiful mountain and a superb, satisfying climb.  Thank you especially for your patience and for not only ensuring our safety but taking the time at every stage to explain clearly what we were doing and why.  We also greatly appreciated your steady pacing, which provided several first-hand examples of the hare and tortoise principle in practice; I can’t speak for James, but do not underestimate the achievement of getting me to the top of Mt Blanc de Cheilon in (just) under guide-book time, still breathing comfortably and with an acceptable pulse-rate.

Many thanks again.”  Michael Firth

Mountain guiding in Europe

James enjoying the views from the summit of Mont Blanc de Cheillon, Matterhorn in the background( above his helmet) - well done team!

Mountaineering with Gary Dickson, Alpinism & Ski Wanaka – NZ and Europe

Here some memorabilia of Alpinism during the last decade: youtube legendary Doug Ball who spent considerable time climbing with mountain guide Gary Dickson aka Gaz from January 2006 until August 2009.

Climbing Mt Aspiring

Doug Ball, 79, on Mt Aspiring, New Zealand

Doug Ball on the Fiescherhorn with mountain guide Gary Dickson

Doug at 80, climbing a few peaks over 4000m in a week in Switzerland

climbing in the Swiss Alps

Doug climbing high above the Dossenhütte, Kingspitze in the back ground

Doug had climbed Mt Cook Aoraki with his wife Peggy and many other peaks, but never Mt Aspiring. He got thwarted twice while climbing with Gaz because of conditions and weather but third time lucky and for a brief time he was considered the oldest climber to have sumited. He must have been an inspiration … more

Doug and Mt Tasman in the back ground

Based at Centennial hut for some more alpine climbing

He sent us these lines just recently …”I use a slide show of my mountaineering photos as a screen saver so that my memories are not lost but are refreshed every day. Alpinism and Ski certainly made an enormous difference to my life. What would have become of me if I had just thrown in the sponge after Peggy died?  I have so much to thank you both for and am not likely to ever forget it.”

keep going strong Doug