Steve Moffat: IFMGA Mountain & Ski Guide
A spectacular aerial view of AC Guide Steve Moffat and climber on the summit of New Zealand's Mount Aspiring.

As the sun sets on another busy southern summer season, we take a moment to put the spotlight on our New Zealand Operations Manager and long-term AC staffer, Steve Moffat.

Steve’s guiding career is intricately interwoven with Adventure Consultants, spanning 18 years from his beginnings as an enthusiastic rookie to his recent ascension to New Zealand Chief Guide. As Steve embraces his new responsibilities within AC, we asked how it all began, where it’s going and what keeps one of our most popular guides coming back for more.

AC IFMGA Guide Steve Moffat ski mountaineering in New Zealand

As a young teenager, Steve enjoyed a typical New Zealand progression into the outdoors—wandering into the hills, tramping with mates, camping in the middle of forests with a blackened billy on the fire and embracing all the classic trappings of a Kiwi coming of age. At school he was part of a rather unofficial school tramping club which soon gave him the skills to get well above the bush line and provided his first experiences with ice axe and crampons on the big glaciers.

No doubt his parents worried that his ‘wasted youth’ playing in the mountains was obstructing a solid career path. Little did they know that all that time spent on frivolous behaviours would set him up for a life of rewarding alpine adventures. It was a path that eventually led him to work on the Aoraki Mount Cook Search & Rescue team. 

Suddenly immersed in a world of alpine professionals, a latent interest began to bud. Spurred on by a personal mountaineering trip to the Peruvian Andes, Steve returned to New Zealand, where it seemed a natural progression to see “what this guiding lark was about”.

With the pre-requisites for the guide training scheme already completed, Steve found his work opportunities abundant and a move to Wanaka in the late nineties saw his first connection with Adventure Consultants as a freelance guide. Not looking back, by 2002 Steve had been reeled in full time and a year later was away on his first AC expedition to climb Ama Dablam. It was Steve’s first visit to Nepal, offering a spectacular introduction to Himalayan climbing and the challenges of guiding at high altitude. From then on it was all go, with this proving the first of many high-altitude forays he would guide, amongst which Cho Oyu, Island Peak, Lobuche East, Kyajo Ri, Aconcagua, Carstensz Pyramid, Greenland skiing and the big one itself, Mount Everest.

Standing out above Steve’s many expedition experiences have been his trips to Antarctica, fulfilling a childhood dream to visit the White Continent. As a young lad, long before he was thinking about a life of guiding, Steve would devour any book on the frozen south that he could lay his hands on. Absorbing the history of early exploration and captivated by how wild, remote, huge and inaccessible the continent was, the idea fascinated him. Certainly, it lived up to Steve’s expectations as he has now been down to guide expeditions to Vinson Massif on multiple occasions.

A climber and Adventure Consultants guides Steve Moffat and Mike Roberts smile widely as they celebrate on the summit of Australasia's highest peak, Carstensz Pyramid.
On the summit of Mt Gunnbjörn by Steve Moffat

In addition to the operational work that Steve undertakes overseeing the safety and management of our New Zealand program, his new position will see him establish an even closer relationship with the AC guides, working with them on their training and ongoing professional development. He’s their go-to for questions and support, with pre-winter guides’ training the next big focus. It’s here that Steve’s easy-going nature comes to the fore, as his good relationships with the guides keep the best coming back season after season.

Steve explains that there seems to be no slowing down of the industry in sight, opening up more and more opportunities for the current generation to expand their horizons beyond traditional routes up classic mountains. It’s entirely possibly to incorporate year-round guiding with the greater ranges around the globe, allowing modern guides to introduce new and exciting chapters into their CVs and really focus on the types of climbing and skiing on which they thrive.

AC IFMGA Guide Steve Moffat with his stand-out repeat mountain adventurer Jack Green

For Steve, it’s been all about the special people you meet along the way, some of whom become lifelong friends. One of these standouts is Jack Green, with whom Steve first climbed in his early guiding days, fresh out of his initial guide assessments. Jack was then in his early 60s (“the new 40s these days, eh”) and already with a background in quality British scrambling routes. Over a period of three seasons, Jack joined Steve on numerous mountain adventures, high on the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, on Mount Aspiring and on sojourns to Fiordland’s Darran Mountains. A highlight for them both was reaching the summit of Mount Tasman via the North Shoulder with Jack at the tender age of 63. Jack dropped in to see Steve a while back and although fifteen plus years may have flown by, Steve admits: “It’s guys like Jack that keep me passionate about taking people into the high mountains. It’s more than summits, it’s experiences with great people in special parts of the world”.

With Steve himself currently planning winter ice climbing and ski touring missions, there is rarely a dull moment.

All smile on Carstensz Pyramid Photo Mike Roberts resize

"Just keep the coffee pot full"

Steve Moffat, AC Guide Extraordinaire
Steve Moffat rock climbing in Fiordland, New Zealand

Steve Moffat guiding in Fiordland, New Zealand

AC Guide Steve Moffat and three clients on the summit of Cho Oyu

Steve Moffat and three of his team on the summit of Cho Oyu, 8,201m/26,906ft