The Alpine Club says New Zealand climbers are going soft and urgent action is needed to find a new breed of mountaineers in the mould of Sir Edmund Hillary.
The club says the number of mountaineers using their alpine huts is falling, and the decline is reflected in the quality of climbs being done overseas.
Incoming president Peter Cammell says people don't want to have mountaineering adventures anymore because of the hardships involved.
He says there's no shortage of climbers, but most would rather head to the mountains for a day rather than carry a heavy pack over them in bad weather.
Daniel Jenkins, of R&R Sport in Christchurch, says fewer people are buying traditional climbing gear - like the wires, cams and ice screws climbers use to anchor their ropes to the mountain.
He says the expense of mountaineering equipment is one drawback - a good set of boots alone can cost $1000.
Guy Cotter, of Adventure Consultants in Wanaka, also says people now expect a higher level of comfort with their adventure.
The Alpine Club is hosting a debate in Christchurch on Friday to try to find ways to stop the loss of interest.