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The NZAC Snowcraft and Mountaineering pathway starts on a local level, with many sections running multiple NZAC Basic Snowcraft courses each winter. Along with Avalanche Awareness Courses and Basic Navigation Skills Courses, these courses focus on taking new participants into the mountains to gain skills, confidence and experience in the alpine environment. Someone who has completed all of these courses (or already has the skills detailed in the course outcomes) should have the skills necessary to travel on Mount Cook Grade 1+ Terrain. Someone with these skills learnt from these courses is classed as a NZAC Novice Mountaineer.
Members looking to further their skills should first consolidate the skills they have learned. This is best done through section trips, personal mountaineering, refresher courses and peer mentoring.
Once an NZAC Novice Mountaineer (or with the equivalent skillset), members can progress onto the intermediate tier of the pathway. Local NZAC sections run NZAC Intermediate Snowcraft Courses throughout the winter alongside Intermediate Navigation Skills Courses. The Backcountry Avalanche Course is run nationally throughout the winter. A member who has completed these courses (or has the equivalent skillset) is classed as an NZAC Intermediate Mountaineer. They should have the skills and knowledge to travel on Mount Cook Grade 2+ terrain (non-glacial).
The final progression of the NZAC Snowcraft and Mountaineering Pathway is to work towards becoming competent to travel on glacial terrain and climb technical mountaineering routes. Significant consolidation of the skills learned in the intermediate tier of the pathway is required before progression onto the advanced courses. With a rock-climbing background (sport or trad) and the skills of an NZAC Intermediate Mountaineer, members can attend the NZAC High Alpine Skills Courses (run nationally each summer) and the NZAC Leading on Technical Ice Course (run nationally each winter). These skills combined with ongoing avalanche training through the Backcountry Avalanche Refresher Course complete the pathway. Members who have completed these courses (or have the equivalent skillset) are classed NZAC Advanced Mountaineers and are likely to be comfortable travelling on Mount Cook Grade 3 and above terrain.