Snowcraft is a thorough introductory-level course on the techniques required for moving safely and effectively in an alpine environment, taught by experienced club members. 

In recognition of the level of inherent risks that are involved with activities in the alpine environment, starting from the 2021 winter season this course will only be open to experienced WTMC trip leaders, who have led up to and including Medium level tramps. 

Applications for inclusion on the Snowcraft course may be submitted for review from the beginning of May 2021, and WTMC scholarship funding may also be available to assist members’ participation. 

In your email application, please include: 

  • Confirmation that you have been a club member for at least 12 months and have current membership. 
  • The club trips you have led most recently, and when. 
  • The club trips you have been on most recently, and when. 
  • Details of any other voluntary activities that you have undertaken for the club (e.g., holding a committee position, assisting with club nights, etc).
  • Why you’re interested in participating in the Snowcraft course. 
  • What you hope to do with the skills that you learn on the course. 
  • Your current level of fitness (please be realistic). 


Snowcraft is ideal for people with tramping and navigation experience, a solid fitness base and a desire to learn more about travelling safely in snow, ice and mixed conditions.

Understanding how to move and what risks to mitigate in the alpine environment can open tramping up to high-alpine winter walking, and trans-alpine tramping. 

As the purpose of this course is for an Alp1 level of skills and understanding, it does not include any rope skills. Alpine rope skills are considered to be advanced skills that open the possibilities for a trip exponentially, and are better covered under dedicated professionally-run courses that are aligned to current best practice. 

Therefore, Snowcraft with the WTMC focuses heavily on trip planning, route selection, alpine navigation techniques, and avalanche avoidance. 

Basic avalanche techniques will be introduced only, though there is heavy emphasis that to be competent in avalanche rescue takes many months – or even years – of practice. 

These techniques will include using avalanche transceivers, and associated search and rescue techniques. 

If you are ever planning on heading into avalanche-risk areas, a dedicated professionally-run course is highly recommended. 

Successfully completing Snowcraft qualifies you for going on WTMC ALP1 trips. 


The course runs over two weekends at the club lodge on Mount Ruapehu.

You must also be available for three Wednesday night sessions; all of which are between 1 and 2 hours each. See below for dates and venues. 

Snowcraft includes introductory instruction on:

  • Clothing and equipment. 
  • Shelter. 
  • Food and hydration. 
  • Weather and reading the alpine terrain. 
  • Trip planning, navigation and route selection. 
  • Moving on snow and ice without technical aids. 
  • Moving on snow and ice with ice axe and / or crampons. 
  • Alpine hazards.  
  • Leadership, decision making and risk management. 
  • Introduction to the use of avalanche transceivers. 

The course does not cover the use of ropes and related technical climbing equipment.


To enrol in the Snowcraft course you must: 

  • Be a member of WTMC; and, 
  • Be an experienced tramping trip leader up to and including Medium level; and, 
  • have a reasonable degree of understanding for navigation. 

We expect the students to: 

  • Have limited or no experience using crampons and an ice axe; or, 
  • Want to refresh their alpine skills after a period of not using them; or, 
  • Want to consolidate their informal learning of alpine movement techniques. 
  • Have their own basic equipment for being outside in the cold and wet (or hot, glary and wet!), including sturdy boots, water-proofs, layered clothing and the like (“gear” will be a key part of the learning of the course). 

You can expect the instructors to: 

  • Be WTMC members experienced in the alpine environment. 
  • Be club volunteers; not professional instructors with formal teaching qualifications. 


We understand that – as an experienced trip leader – you will have all-season gear suitable for tramping in rough conditions, including the Tararuas when the weather is not so great! 

We also understand that you may not have your own helmet, crampons, axe, shovel & probe at this time, and these things can be rented from the club stores for a very small cost. 

While instructors will make every effort to look out for your health and safety, this is primarily your responsibility. You cannot use our Snowcraft course as credits for any NCEA or other educational programme. If you want to do a professionally run course we recommend contacting a professional alpine instruction company.

Other gear you should take is listed on ‘what to take on a trip‘.


The Snowcraft course includes three evening sessions at the WTMC clubrooms, and two weekends at the WTMC Lodge on Ruapehu.

The dates for the 2021 course will be : 

  • Wednesday 21st July, at the club. 
  • Wednesday 28th July, at the club. 
  • Friday 30th July to Sunday 1st August, at Ruapehu Lodge. 
  • Wednesday 4th August, at the club. 
  • Friday 6th to Sunday 8th August, at Ruapehu Lodge. 
  • Wednesday 11th August – gear return & social at the club. 


Snowcraft is open to club members only, and is run on a cost-recovery basis with volunteer instructors.

Course costs for 2021 have been calculated at $410 per student, covering the following : 

  • Shared meals at the lodge on the two weekends away
  • Accommodation at the lodge on the two weekends away
  • Transport to and from the lodge on the two weekends away

Course costs do not include the cost of gear hire. You can hire ice axe, helmet and crampons from the Club for a small charge.


Payment details will be made available to the successful course applicants before the course commences. 

To apply for consideration to join the course, email , with the information requested in the “Revised Structure for 2021” section above. 

Applications to join the course will be assessed for suitability on an individual basis.


Once you have completed Snowcraft, you will be able to go on alpine club trips graded ALP 1, appropriate to your level of fitness for alpine conditions.

If you enjoy alpine trips then the next step may be to become a WTMC club alpine trip leader, and further still would be to do a professionally-run Alpine Instruction Course (AIC) where you can learn how to use ropes and other equipment to do snow, ice & mixed climbing.