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What skier has not been tempted to venture in that beautiful snow just on the other side of the fence, just beyond the sign that says “Beware – Experienced skiers only”.
It is not just you, as ski areas get busier and busier more people are looking for ways to get away from the busy slopes. No crowds, untouched snow…if it was not for that sign that implies certain death should you take one step out of bounds.
As demand grows there are more and more places where budding backcountry skiers and snowboarders can learn backcountry skiing. There are backcountry awareness courses that teach the ins and out of avalanches but learning ski touring is about much more than avalanche skills. Learning to use different equipment, weather, clothing and where to go are all part of backcountry skiing.
Professional guide Tim Steward recommends a residential course like the one offered by Aspiring Guides in Wanaka. “There is nothing better than living in the snow for a few days to make you feel at home in all conditions”.
Private huts like Black Peak Hut or Robrosa Hut allow skiers to learn in a comfortable environment. No roughing it in tents or snow caves, these huts are kitted out with everything from coffee plungers to sleeping bags meaning that you do not have to carry heavy packs.
"Having a private hut to work out of lets us have evening sessions go over what we have done each day” says Tim. “Skiers and snowboarders really get a feel for all the skills required when they know all they have to do is step outside the door.”
Access is always a big issue in New Zealand where the snow is a long way from the towns and villages. Many alpine huts require long helicopter flights or are located on glaciers requiring ski mountaineering skills.
We are lucky that our huts are among the most accessible in the country, you want terrain that is challenging without being too limiting, we can often get out and ski in weather that would be impossible elsewhere.