Our local mountains are Taranaki, Ruapehu, its friends Ngauruhoe (aka Mt Doom from Lord of the Rings) and Tongariro. Most club trips are in this area but occasionally the more adventurous head down to the South Island.
The Snow School trips are a joint course run by both AURAC and AUTC (Auckland University Tramping Club). The courses take place above Whakapapa ski-field on Mount Ruapehu, accommodation is the NZAC hut. All the gear such as ice-axes and crampons will be provided. Both these courses are quite popular, and so there is an application process. One of the most important factors in getting accepted into snow school is your club involvement!
Course fees cover the costs incurred and do not make a profit. For this reason the courses at AURAC are some of the cheapest around. Although every effort is made to make the courses as safe as possible, participants undertake courses at their own risk and AURAC takes no responsibility for any accidents that may occur, although this is unlikely.
Beginners Snow School
Beginners snow school is a three-day course run typically from July to September. This course is designed for people with no mountaineering experience, however, a reasonable level of fitness is required. Attendance on this course is compulsory for any trips above the bush line.
Beginners snow school is usually run on multiple dates, but this is dependent on the number of sign-ups and the number of willing instructors. Aside from the skills listed below the course may vary depending on the weather conditions, if the weather allows there may be a day spent going up to the Summit Plateau.
The skills taught in this course include:
Ice-axe and crampon use
Self-arresting using ice-axes
How to build snow shelters
Avalanche safety and rescue
Advanced Snow School
Advanced snow school is a five-day course, previously this has been run on one date in July.
1. All hopeful participants must have completed a Beginner's Snow School or equivalent, such as a NZAC or MSC alpine course. This is to ensure that basic knowledge has already been obtained.
2. It is necessary that all participants have been on at least two alpine trips since their Beginner's Snow School. There are two reasons for this: To re-enforce skills learnt on Beginner's Snow School and to demonstrate a commitment and interest in the Alpine as Advanced Snow School requires a lot of valuable instructor-time.
There will be at least one trip run before Advanced Snow School for the purpose of helping those who haven't got two trips get a jump-start. It will be however necessary to organise/participate in another trip that you organise/join.
3. Preferably, all Advanced Snow School participants will have some prior knowledge of ropework, particularly relating to climbing. Some brush-up/information nights will be held before the course so that those who need some extra help will be supplied it.
The skills covered:
Glacier travel and rescue
Snow, rock, and ice anchors
Pitching alpine routes
Mixed and ice climbing
Pack List Guide
Sturdy, waterproof boots (Available for rent from Living Simply: http://www.livingsimply.co.nz/page/hire.aspx)
Gaiters (Also available for rent from Living Simply)
x2 thick socks
x2 Warm polypro layer
x2 Polypro trousers (long johns) or fleece trousers
x2 warm inners like a polypro undershirt
x1 fleece or warm jersey
Good raincoat and waterproof pants
Food for 3 days or 5 days depending on which snow school you attend. There is a microwave and stove-top in the hut (Usually dinners are shared).
Togs and towel (hot pools are traditionally visited on the way home)
This information is based on the previous snow schools and is subject to change. Any queries please contact our alpine officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Previously Run Courses
Avalanche Awareness Course
The avalanche awareness course expands on what you were taught in snow school and gives you the tools to make good decisions in the backcountry.