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. We encourage 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.

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What are the 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

Ask yourself the following

  • 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 Skills Section.

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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

Jump onto our free online avalanche course that introduces you to the basics of avalanche types, factors and how to reduce the risk in avalanche terrain.

Try it out

Avalanche Awareness Series

This video series is designed to be a short beginners guide about avalanche risk, and some basic techniques. Watch the full series here.

Find a course near you

Get the skills to keep yourself safe in alpine terrain. There are plenty of backcountry, avalanche awareness and alpine courses available in New Zealand. You can find the list of external providers in the training section of our website.

Find out more


Helpful Links 

MetService New Zealand - Get the mountain forecast

Find out more

Attend a Backcountry Avalanche Course - Visit our courses page

Find out more 

Learn about avalanches >>