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Hard ice experts are hot on training

Press release from Ngai Tahu Tourism
Tuesday 26 August 2008

Hard ice experts are hot on training

Six senior glacier guides working in Franz Josef have boosted their combined 30-plus years of guiding experience with the newly introduced New Zealand Mountain Guide Association (NZMGA) Hard Ice qualification.

Dayle Stevens, Gabe Wilkinson, Craig Buckland, Tom Arnold, and cousins Troy and Andrew Beaumont, all highly skilled Franz Josef Glacier Guides on the South Island’s West Coast, can now add the latest NZMGA accreditation to their list of professional qualifications.

“We’re very proud of our guides and their passion to stay at the very top of their profession, delivering a memorable and fun experience to visitors exploring Franz Josef Glacier with us,” said Kerry Walker, Sales & Marketing Manager for Franz Josef Glacier Guides.

“Our team reflects the adventurous personality of our business and is our biggest asset, so supporting skill development and safety on the ice is incredibly important.”

The accreditation course is a rigorous three-day evaluation relating to hard ice conditions, taking place on the Franz Josef Glacier and including assessment on route selection, hazard identification and mitigation, and rope rescue. Ray Button and Gary Dickson, both guides with the International Federation of Mt Guides Association, were the assessors.

The six men can now be classed as Hard Ice Guides, and will be joined by another eleven Franz Josef Glacier Guides being supported by the company to complete the accreditation within the next 12 months.

“We’re all stoked to get the NZMGA accreditation under our belt. It’s an internationally recognised hard ice guiding course and places us among the best in our industry, which is a great position to be in,” said guide Tom Arnold.

Franz Josef Glacier Guides offer visitors the opportunity to experience one of the most spectacular glacier environments accessible to the general public anywhere in the world.

The range of glacier hiking tours suit all levels of fitness and ability and includes a Full Day Adventure, ½ Day Experience, Glacier Valley Walk, Heli-Hike and Ice-Climbing.

Each day, before the first public trip, Franz Josef Glacier Guides inspect the glacier and cut large, safe step-lines and walking tracks.

“Our guides are skilled at step-cutting and track formation, which means that by the time we get customers up there onto the face, we’ve assessed the glacier and can guarantee every minute on the ice will be spent as safely as possible passing through unique terrain and impressive ice formations. It makes our trips pretty special,” said Ms Walker.

Franz Josef Glacier Guides complements the many other activities currently available on the South Island’s West Coast, including the Hukawai Glacier Centre, an indoor ice climbing wall suitable for visitors of almost any age and ability, and The Glacier Hot Pools boutique complex opening in Franz Josef in spring 2008.


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