Exploring the Tasman Glacier (Photo: Mt. Cook Glacier Guiding)
Glacier guiding has been happening in NZ for close to 100 years and has long been the starting point for many guiding careers in the Alpine. Its history lies on the beautiful West coast of the South Island where the ice penetrates deep into the lush rain forest. With modern day access and current climate issues, these glaciers are now almost solely reached by helicopter. Glacier guiding involves introducing visitors from all over the world onto the lower, hard ice part of the glacier.
Here people experience and learn through interpretation giving by their knowledgeable NZMGA guide the role glaciers have in our climate, how they form, react, what they are capable of doing, walk into an ice cave, try ice climbing or maybe even get lowered into a crevasse.
The NZMGA guide will manage all aspects of the trip, including air craft safety, introduction into cramponing technique and route selection. The trip duration and terrain choice should match the clients fitness, expectation and needs to suit the general conditions of the day. The guide needs to be fast in analyzing all these aspects. On more advanced trips and with a smaller group size the guide might set up top rope ice climbing, fixed lines for moving around safely in more technical terrain or even lower clients into features such as crevasses or deep holes.
It is a fantastic job to learn client control, communication and care, working in a stunning environment.