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Snow School

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, 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 is a three-day course run typically in the months of 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

Safe route-finding


Advanced snow school is a five-day course, previously this has been run on one date in July.


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.

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 reinforce skills learned during 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.

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 on Advanced Snow School are:

  • Glacier travel and rescue

  • Crevasse rescue

  • Snow, rock, and ice anchors

  • Pitching alpine routes

  • Mixed and ice climbing

  • Alpine knots

Alpine Packing List

If you have any queries, please contact our Alpine Officer.

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