Crampons, snow caves, self-arrests and below zero temperatures might not be your usual island fare, but that’s what Waiheke Venturers experienced last week.

The Venturers mountaineering team, part of Waiheke Sea Scouts, took to Mt Ruapehu from 7-13 October to build safety awareness and leadership skills. The 10 person team, aged 15-49, spent four nights in a scout lodge and one adventurous night sleeping in a snow cave.

“Basically I wanted to be able to take them to do some more challenging things off the island and we all needed to upskill,” scout leader Kelly Keenan says.

The course ranged from getting to grips with crampons to learning to self-arrest, where a climber uses an axe or belay system to stop sliding.

On the last night the team stayed out on the mountain and made a snow cave to shelter from the elements.

“It was awesome, it was a little bit touch and go because the weather forecast wasn’t ideal, but our guides were really experienced and picked a good spot for us,” Kelly says.

“The kids were amazing and a few of them really put themselves outside of their comfort zones.”

There were no mishaps besides a few ripped wet weather pants from the self-arrest exercise.

A $2000 grant from New Hope helped towards the Ruapehu trip. The group has previously received $4000 grant from the local board which put all willing and able bodied scouts and venturers through a Coastguard day skippers’ course.

“This is a really great platform for teenagers to get busy, and with the community support we’ve had it’s actually made it possible,” Kelly says.

Their next planned adventure is a canyoning trip in the Pararaha Gorge in West Auckland. •

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