Mountaineering is an inherently risky recreational pursuit, and it is often this balance between risk and reward that attracts and motivates climbers, or if not, climbers are at least aware of this fine balance.

It is impossible to remove all the risks from mountaineering. The MSC encourages those with the relevant skills, experience and knowledge to undertake outdoor recreation activities, including mountaineering, and in no way suggests people should not get involved in the pursuit. Unfortunately, on occasion things do go wrong, and despite best intentions and actions serious accidents do occur.

Did you know? 

26,551 Kiwi mountaineers participate each year
– There and Back, 2016

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What are the risks?  

There and Back

For the first time, the outdoor recreation sector has a comprehensive picture of what’s been going on in the New Zealand outdoors from an outdoor safety perspective, across 5 major outdoor recreation activities. This publication combines all injury, search and rescue and fatality data together to present a comprehensive ‘state of the nation’ style detailed breakdown. 

Read it online

170927.MSC.COM.Resources web thereandback

Key risks

  • Many deaths have occurred due to inexperience with crampons, or not putting them on when needed.
  • Many falls which created a rescue or fatality were on the descent.  These may have been due to inattention to the task and risks present, fatigue and not staying together with climbing partners.



Prepare for your trip

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Questions to consider before you head out 

  • What route are you planning to take?
  • How long will it take you?
  • Do you have enough experience to climb this mountain?
  • Is it within the limits of everyone in the group?
  • Have you factored in enough time in case it takes longer than expected?
  • How will you manage fatigue on your descent?

Mitigate the Risks

Manage Fatigue

Employ strategies for identifying and managing fatigue. Ensure this is considered as part of any pre-trip planning and pay this element the due respect it deserves during your trip. Allow time for adequate breaks to rest and take on food/water. Most importantly ensure the culture surrounding your trip allows for topics such as fatigue management to be part of your conversations and communication.

Plan each stage of the journey

Discuss, agree on and employ suitable travel options/modes in terrain where falling is possible, and could result in serious consequences. Pay particular attention to moderate terrain where typically mountaineers would travel un-roped. 

Prepare for the risk of avalanches

You can find more about alpine and avalanche safety skills in our Resources section.

Learn more

Helpful Resources

New Zealand Avalanche Advisory (NZAA) 

Use to check the backcountry avalanche advisory and share your own observations with others.

Learn more

Online Avalanche Course

Try it out

Outdoor Safety Code

The first thing to remember is that every trip needs a plan. It doesn't take much to turn a short walk into an 'unexpected night out.' If you've planned before you hit the track using the outdoor safety code as a guide, there's a good chance you'll be prepared to handle an unexpected turn of events. 

Safety is the outcome of good planning and good decision making
– Mike Daisley, MSC CEO
Find out more about the Outdoor Safety Code below. 

Info EX

The Info-Ex is a cooperative service managed by the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC) and has been running since 1998. It provides a daily exchange of technical snow, weather and avalanche information between organisations and commercial businesses that actively manage avalanche hazards during the winter months (e.g. heliskiing companies, ski areas and land managers).

The Info-Ex data base allows subscribers to input and view daily weather, snowpack and avalanche observations giving avalanche professionals access to data that is accurate and relevant. This information improves each subscriber's awareness of the conditions across New Zealand, greatly enhancing their ability to manage their local avalanche risks. Info-Ex serves as one of the key sources of data used by the NZ Avalanche Advisory that forecasters use to produce and verify their avalanche advisories.

Subscribe to Info Ex


MSC worked with Epic TV to produce a five part avalanche safety series. Watch the whole series HERE. The video series is designed to be a short beginners guide about avalanche risk, and some basic techniques. Please note: This video series is NOT designed to be a complete training course – we strongly recommend you get training and learn from the experts. Please visit the courses page for more details. 

Episode #2 - Epic TV video series

Watch the whole series HERE.

Episode #3 - Epic TV video series

Media Releases

Helpful Links 

MetService New Zealand - Get the mountain forecast

Find out more

Attend a Backcountry Avalanche Course - Visit our courses page

Find out more 

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