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The Places We Call Home:

Skiing & Splitboarding New Zealand’s Remote Glaciers with Aspiring Guides

Te Waipounamu, The South Island of Aotearoa is a truly majestic place. The diversity of landscapes in such a “small” island is unique on a global scale. Two tectonic plates crash together and force the mountains up into the path of the Roaring Forties. A flow of weather systems tracking West to East that deposit metres of snow every year onto the Southern Alps. The glaciers that form as a result are some of the most beautiful in the world and have shaped this place that we call home over thousands of years. 

Around Aoraki Mt Cook lies a myriad of stunning glaciers with multiple alpine huts perched on rocky outcrops. During winter and spring, the crevasses fill up with snow and the conditions become ripe for glacier ski and splitboard touring. 

Moving through this terrain on skis is efficient, fun and a fantastic way to travel. From navigating through icefalls on the Haupapa Tasman glacier, skiing powder down the Murchison Headwall or gliding into the sunset while looking down at the sea on the West Coast. Days out on the glacier are simply special.


However, they are not without their challenges. It is a step up from ski touring out the back of Mt Hutt or Treble Cone with the remoteness and added hazards that come with being in the high alpine. Crevasses and cliffs need to be avoided, and the avalanche conditions need to be monitored constantly. Most importantly we want to find the best snow! The mountains are a dynamic environment and the snow changes on a daily basis. It takes a wealth of experience to know what aspect (direction a slope faces) and what elevation to head to find quality turns. The weather is the master of all in these landscapes and it plays a huge role in the trips. Being able to shelter in an alpine hut during severe weather is not only safe but an experience unto itself! 

This can all be a little overwhelming at first but makes the end goal even more worth it! A guide will allow you to take this in your stride and have you sliding around in the best snow and moving through the terrain while minimising exposure to risks. 

At Aspiring Guides, we recognise and embrace the fact that every individual and group is unique. We can and will tailor any trip to the needs of the crew. First time on a glacier and wanting to take it easy, no worries. Want us to just keep you safe or do you want to learn the skills and nuances of existing in the mountains? It’s all possible. 

Bordering the main glaciers are the steep couloirs and faces of Aotearoa’s highest mountains. The terrain gets steeper, and the riding kicks up a notch again. If this sounds like a bit of you then Ski or Splitboard Mountaineering could be the option. With smaller ratios your guide and you can really get into the technical stuff. 

The experience of a lifetime awaits, and we’re here to take you to the heart of adventure.

Will Rowntree is an IFMGA guide and Ski Mountaineer based in the Southern Lakes who regularly guides for Aspiring Guides. These Glacier trips are his favourite type of guiding work and he finds it “a real pleasure” to share it with others. When he isn’t taking guests into the mountains you’ll see him scuttling around the high peaks of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park looking for adventurous new lines to ski.


Words by: Will Rountree – Aspiring Guides IFMGA Guide


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