Learn technical skills on steep ice
Learn from professionals
A variety of multi-pitch waterfall ice and mixed climbs
Gear hire is included - try before you buy!
Maximum of 4 participants per guide
Waterfall Ice Climbing Course
Technical ice climbing instruction at Ailsa Stream
Learn ice climbing skills at our stunning venue in the Liebig Range.
Situated in the catchment between Mt. Lucia and Mt Jukes, this south-facing ice crag is accessed by a helicopter flight in from Lake Tekapo, with the option to walk and 4WD back out. At the head of Ailsa Stream, water seeps out of an alpine lake and drips over steep rock each winter to create a winter wonderland of ice climbing goodness.
The instruction course is structured to suit your abilities and experience and will allow you to refresh and develop climbing skills on technical ground. Those who are willing and able to extend themselves may get to try leading on ice. Choose your challenge!
|Individual bookings||5 days||1:4|
|returning client discount (on individual bookings), if you have been on an Alpine Recreation trip before.|
|Private Course Prices (NZ$ per person)|
|1 Person||4 days||1:1|
|2 People||4 days||1:2|
|3 People||5 days||1:3|
|4 People||5 days||1:4|
- IFMGA/NZMGA certified mountain guide
- Land use permit
- Tent accommodation
- Local accommodation for any nights required during the course
- ALL meals (including snacks & energy bars) for the duration of the course
- ALL technical ice climbing equipment (with the exception of boots)
Meals and accommodation before/after the course are NOT included.
+Minimum Numbers & Course Length
A minimum number of 3 participants is required to run this course (this only applies to individual bookings, not private course bookings). If less than the minimum number is reached, we will run the course you are booked on, with the following changes:
- 2 participants only - the course will be shortened to 4 days.
- 1 participant only - the course will be shortened to 4 days and an additional fee of NZ will apply. Alternatively you will have the option to reschedule to another trip/date or a full refund.
Due to the shorter length, the course start date will be flexible within the scheduled dates (this allows some flexibility for bad weather without affecting your travel plans too much). With a lower guide:client ratio, you benefit by being able to cover the course content in a shorter amount of time.
Our private Waterfall Ice Climbing Courses are ideal for groups wanting to learn or refresh technical ice climbing skills. All levels of experience can be catered for with private groups.
Advantages of Private Courses
- Customized to your needs, experience and skill level
- A closed group of 1-4 participants with 1 guide, or up to 8 participants with 2 guides
- Your choice of dates, arranged to fit your schedule (subject to guide availability)
+Aircraft Access & 4WD Transport
To maximize your climbing time, we recommend flying both in and out of Ailsa Stream. Alternatively a 4WD pick up can be arranged for NZ$200 per group (subject to low river levels).
Green : Minimum reached - guaranteed departure.
Orange : Only 4 or fewer places available.
Red : No availability.
The Waterfall Ice Climbing Course covers a wide range of possible ice climbing skills. It is beyond the scope and time of the course to specialise with all these skills - these can be covered more in depth on our Introductory Mountaineering and Intensive Mountaineering Skills courses. It is more about getting onto the ice in a great setting to test your abilities. For climbers who already have considerable rock experience the ice skills will come naturally with expert tuition.
- Trip preparation and equipment
- Climbing knots, hitches, belaying, rappelling
- Use of modern technical ice tools, crampons
- Alpine ice climbing techniques – basic efficient movement and tool placement, monkey hang
- Ice anchors – Ice screw placements, V-thread or Abalakov anchors, ice bollards
- Snow camping/bivvying
- Mountain weather
- Risk awareness and avoidance
- Route selection
- Avalanche awareness
- Multi pitch ice climbing
- Rock and snow anchors
Ailsa Pass (2190m). This pass affords an amazing panoramic view of Aoraki Mount Cook, the Mount Cook and Malte Brun ranges, and allows us to stretch our legs and enjoy some sunshine.
Avalanche danger contingency
Our camp is located in a safe zone, however the Ailsa Valley below our camp may be subject to avalanche after heavy snowfall. The avalanche hazard can be avoided by flying in to and out from our camp (not included in course price).
Bad weather contingency
Nature does not always agree with our plans, so we must be prepared and flexible with the winter weather. Your guides are very experienced at judging the conditions and will adjust activities if necessary. In case adverse weather or unfavourable conditions prevent a trip from immediately moving into the mountains, we may relocate to Rex Simpson Hut (at 1300m in the Two Thumb Range), where most skills can still be taught. If the weather continues to remain unstable and we are unable to access Ailsa Stream, we will continue to use this venue and cover the rest of the instruction topics except multi pitch ice climbing.
Venue: Ailsa Stream Camp - Liebig Range
We recommend flying in and out. If you choose to walk out, the trek out from our tent camp at the top of Ailsa Stream is via rough, untracked streambed, a descent of about 900m over 5-6 kilometres. At Memorial Hut you will be met by 4WD and driven back to Lake Tekapo via the Cass Valley. If you prefer to spend more time ice climbing on the last day, rather than trekking out, then opt to fly out.
Snow camping with gas cooking, satellite phone, tents, thermarests and nonperishable foods.
Our camp is remote so there is no risk of overcrowding.
8am gear check at Alpine Recreation's Edelweiss Lodge, 8 Erebus Place, Lake Tekapo. Any items of equipment that you have been unable to provide yourself will be provided free-of-charge. Your guide will discuss the current mountain weather and avalanche forecasts with you. Drive to Tekapo Airport and fly in to Ailsa Stream. Set up camp and begin with an introduction to climbing steep ice.
Build your technical skills and progress to steeper ice flows, gaining confidence in your new tools. If steepness alone is not enough exhilaration, try climbing with one tool or leading. Multi pitch options are also available to really excite the aspirant ice adventurer. An option of ascending to nearby Ailsa Pass for stunning panoramic views of the Mount Cook and Malte Brun ranges is an option if you are keen to warm your blood again.
Wrap up camp and descend to the ice to pump out the forearms one last time before walking down the valley to Memorial Hut (4-6 hours) for our return to Tekapo by 4WD. Or spend a full day ice climbing before flying out.
Fitness & Experience
- High level of fitness.
- Previous overnight hiking, trekking or tramping experience.
- Ability to walk/scramble over uneven, rocky and scrubby terrain, such as riverbed.
- Be prepared to climb and camp in cold conditions. Our guides are trained to keep people warm and motivated in winter alpine conditions.
- If you have no experience with snow camping, this may come as a shock... This is not a beach holiday!
Preferable (but not essential):
- Rock climbing experience is a bonus.
- Mountaineering experience.
Alpine Recreation provides all ice climbing equipment, except ice climbing boots. Outdoor clothing and packs can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary. Ice Climbing boots can be hired from Small Planet in Queenstown or MT Outdoors in Wanaka.