October. 10 days on the wild west coast of New Zealand. Mountain Guide Gary Dickson has just been working with the senior staff of Fox Glacier Guiding with some specialized mountain training. Chancellor Hut beautifully situated above the Fox Icefall was a great location as a base for some of the training. Chancellor dome and the Fox Ice provided great terrain.
Saturday 16 April 2016 – Yes, the annual Epic mountain bike event around Lake Hawea was once again a great success with Mountain Guide Gary again providing safety services for this event to run safely and smoothly. 600 riders having one of the rides of their lives through rugged and spectacular Wanaka region high country.
Our main base is Wanaka here in Central Otago, New Zealand.
We live on the shores of Lake Wanaka. The climate in Wanaka is dry as it is out of the mountain weather so ideal for preparing for a trip or hanging out waiting for a weather change before going into the big mountains.
Wanaka as a town is just the right size for having the conviences of modern living, but not overly busy. We have nice recreation options such as rock climbing, sailing, mountain biking, wine tasting….
Wanaka is idealy suited as a base for a mountain guiding operation as it is central for access to the southern alps. Mt Aspiring national park is at our door step, Mt Cook National Park is 2.5hrs drive away and Fox glacier, gateway to the Fox and Franz Josef glacier region is 3 hrs away.
Queenstown has an international airport or connects easily for our guests to international flights out of Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland, and is only 40 minutes drive away over the crown range for us to come and pick you up – yep , nice and handy.
What you need to know about aircraft access/egress for our guided mountain climbing and mountaineering courses here in the NZ southern alps
Accessing glaciated mountaineering terrain in the Southern alps requires travelling in to our National parks some distance. Most locations if done on foot would require a good weather period, 2 days travel with big packs and a substantial elevation gain all in good weather.( same to get out) Often when the party travelling in via foot access gets to the climbing location the weather is already on the turn, the party gets some hut time, finds their food is running out and then is forced to start heading out down the valley again. Hmmmm. Yep, as a young student at university, this used to be a common scenario. I got a bit done, but not as much as I could have…..
Alpinism and Ski uses helicopters to access and egress the climbing venues ( this is actually a very common and standard thing for NZ mountaineering). There are many helicopter bases close to the mountain venues we go to which is ideal. Yes this is an added expense, but one which many climbers who understand kiwi weather and logistics regularly use.
Flying in and out maximizes your precious time in the alpine zone. Last but not least, when you fly in, your legs are fresh for your climbing, mountaineering and ski touring adventure and so is the food.
Knowing and understanding Kiwi weather is cruicial for trip planning and working in with the helicopter companies. This is where my 30 years of exerience and my solid understanding of local weather patterns comes in.
Our guided mountaineering and ski touring parties wait for good weather in the mountains to arrive and then quickly, efficiently and painlessly fly in. If the weather is bad for flying in, time is spent rock climbing/scrambling, revising rope skills and/or relaxing at the Alpinism and Ski base.
Aircraft cost for alpinism adventures in NZ
Your New Zealand mountaineering and ski touring adventures with Alpinism and Ski Wanaka do not include the price of flights in or out of the mountains. Why….?
Trips in NZ are driven by the weather and conditions options, sometimes you end up going into your first objective, often you end up going somewhere different that first thought.
Prices of flights vary depending on the area flown in to (e.g. Mt Cook-Aoraki National park or Westland National park) as well as aircraft used. The rules and regulations governing these areas vary too. I am more than happy to explain it and give estimates on application to help you with budgeting. You pay directly to the aircraft company involved. there is no fee taken by us for that part of the trip.
We leave the flying to the expert aviation companies. We have an excellent working relationship with them and they and us do our best to get the most efficient and economical flight deals for your New Zealand alpinism adventures.
Alex from Aspiring Helicopters, Wanaka
On the 11th of December Mountain guide Gary Dickson and kiwi client John flew into Bevan col looking for a reasonable break in the current weather for a Mount Aspiring ascent attempt. Unfortunately the weather gods did not play ball and the two mountaineers walked over to Bevan col 4 days later in ‘interesting’ navigation conditions and later flew out to Wanaka. Even though it was a dissappointing trip not to have summited, it was a good trip into the hills with plenty of good hut comraderie, photo opportunities and technical skills updated for John.
Comming up in January, return Alpinism and Ski client Anthony will be jetting in from HongKong for a week of ascent action with Gaz.
In late November/early December, Mountain Guide gaz worked up at Mt Cook instructing on a technical mountaineering course/intermediate mountaineering course.
As snow lovers in New Zealand had started the best winter in a long time, we enjoyed an amazing run of summer weather in Europe and particularly lots of good climbing in Switzerland. Interested? again in July/August 2016 and don’t hesitate to ask!
Presently, ski touring is still on in the Southern Alps and masses of snow are left for some good ski touring fun out there, as long as those crazy Spring winds would settle somewhat! soon!
Gary can be booked again as a mountain guide this coming NZ summer. Top quality mountaineering instruction courses right here in NZ, Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud. From now on, he will offer his guiding service under the concession and sms of Alpine Guides in Mt Cook-Aoraki. Our guided trekking excursions are now part of the past, but we can give you tips and advice anytime for free.
The Alpinism studio-cottage is available again for your independent holidays here in Wanaka, be it action packed or relaxing or mixed.
Enjoy whatever you do and stay safe.
A very important thing happening this week: one of our sustainability projects for the Alpinism and Ski base here in Wanaka is finished, a long term dream as well, ticked off the bucket list and we are mighty proud of it: as of now, we are putting power back into the grid with our brand new solar system. So, life is good and we’ll continue to plan more projects and dream a little.
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!
Alpinism and sustainability go hand in hand – there is no other way as we all have to look after our splendid nature and wilderness areas. We have our own sustainability statement and improvements have been ongoing since our establishment during the Millennium year.
Alpinism and Ski Wanaka is on every mountaineering, ski touring or trekking trip passing on the message as best as possible to visitors from all over the globe. We have also supported Wanaka Wastebusters since they opened their doors. Now there es another enterprise in Wanaka which I believe is in line with being sustainable and sharing resources, the Wanaka time bank. If everyone of us makes the best possible effort, there WILL be improvement. Education is part of it so please help to pass the message that breaking bottles all around beautiful places in Wanaka and leaving rubbish is not cool!
Here are the links (11.12.2012)
Episode one 26th Nov
Episode two 3.Dec
Episode three in Fiordland
If you are interested in what Gary and the Local Wanaka Land search and rescue people do, then tune into NZ TV channel One 8pm on a Monday night for eight episodes of reality TV of “high country rescue” ( the first episode was Monday 26th November and seems to have been well received by those we have talked to and those that have sent messages about it)