Had an awesome trip to New Zealand for a course with Aspiring Guides — seven days at Plateau Hut 2000m altitude, close to Aoraki / Mt Cook 3724m. We had mostly good weather though a bit warm early on making the snow wet and tricky for walking and anchors.
I was amongst a great crew of aspiring alpinists on the course and we learned all about roping up, glacier travel, anchors, crevasse rescue, self arrest, pitch climbing on snow and rock, ice climbing, navigation, weather and more. Also got to meet several parties of real mountaineers climbing from the hut, a lot did Aoraki by various routes. The helicopter fly in and out was fun too.
Such an amazing environment, constantly changing in different weather and with avalanches and rock falls happening all the time. So dramatic in scale and active geological forces. Only a few patches of lichen can actually live up there. The glacial landscape is steep and freeze/thaw cycles shatters the rock to be ground by tonnes of ice. Altitude adds to the difficultly a flatlander like me has apprehending the shear scale and distances up there; the icefall looks like a jumble of blocks until you get amongst it and see each block is the size of a house!
Highly recommend Aspiring Guides for a safe and thorough course. Great guides, good equipment and catering made the trip a great experience.
The hut system in NZ is pretty cool, makes it possible to comfortably survive in this harsh environment.