Snowcraft 2024:

Unless we get some additional support, we are unlikely to run an in-house snowcraft course in 2024. If you are keen to help (e.g. identify and contact a professional guide to run a bespoke course for the Club), please get in touch with the Chief Guide.

In the meantime, we recommend exploring options with other providers for snowcraft level 1 / beginner mountaineering courses:
NZAC Wellington Section or national courses (Find out more about their 2024 snowcraft courses – noting that these are only open to NZAC members)
– Tararua Tramping Club – Find our more about their 2024 AIC course.
– Professional providers on the North Island or South Island;
– Other local tramping clubs.

The WTMC scholarship may available to active club Members to help with external training costs.


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. 

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

Basic avalanche avoidance 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. 

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

For any questions about the course, please contact the Chief Guide or the Assistant Chief Guide

Snowcraft 2022 in a nutshell.
– three Wednesday evenings in Wellington + one 3-day weekend at the WTMC Ruapehu Lodge (28-31st July)
– for club members only, fitness requirements apply
– course fee: $400
– sign-up closes on 15 June 2022.


The course runs over one 3-day weekend 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. 

What is not covered

  • The course does not cover Avalanche Awareness or companion rescue. If you are ever planning on heading into avalanche-risk areas, a dedicated professionally-run course is strongly recommended. It will be necessary if you are looking to upskill and take an Intermediate Snowcraft course in the future.
  • The course does not cover the use of ropes and related technical climbing equipment. 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. 


Eligibility criteria:

In recognition of the level of inherent risks that are involved with activities in the alpine environment, eligibility criteria set a baseline to ensure students have a suitable fitness level and experience to manage risks in an alpine environment. 

To enroll in the Snowcraft course, students must:

  • Be an active club member
  • Have a level of fitness equivalent or higher than Medium level trips
  • Commit to go on at least two Medium trips (or higher) from the beginning of June onwards. At least one of these trips must be completed within 6 weeks of the course.
  • Have a reasonable degree of understanding for navigation. 
  • Identify three ways to volunteer for the club – completed in the last 12 months and/or to be completed in the following 12 months (e.g. leading three club trips). Feel free to contact the Chief Guide if you’d like to discuss options or check the Volunteering page for ideas.

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. 


While you will have all-season gear suitable for tramping in rough conditions – including the Tararua Ranges 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 one three-day weekend at the WTMC Lodge on Ruapehu. 

The dates for the 2022 course will be : 

  • Wednesday 6th July, at the club. 
  • Wednesday 13th July, at the club. 
  • Wednesday 20th July, at the club. 
  • Thursday 28th July to Sunday 31st July, at Ruapehu Lodge.  (leaving after work on Thursday)
  • Wednesday 3rd August – gear return & social at the club. 

(Depending on weather and snow conditions the practical weekend might be rescheduled to the back up dates of 4-7th August)


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

Course costs for 2022 have been calculated at $400 per student and cover the following : 

  • Shared meals at the lodge for three days
  • Accommodation at the lodge for three nights
  • Transport to and from the lodge on the weekend 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.


Applications for inclusion on the Snowcraft course can be submitted online before 15 June 2022.

Applications to join the course will be assessed for suitability on an individual basis. Payment details will be made available to the successful course applicants before the course commences. 

Number of students: min 4, max 8.


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.