Backcountry Ski Course with Avalanche Training

COVID-19 UPDATE:  AAI is open and operating with new policies and procedures for COVID-19. Click the following links to learn more about AAI's COVID-19 Operating Plans and cancellation policy. Note that participants who are unvaccinated may be asked to provide their own transportation while the COVID pandemic continues.


Anyone who is planning on venturing into the backcountry without a professional guide or instructor needs a broad base of skills – everything from how to use climbing skins to an understanding of snow stability and avalanche safety. Depending on your goals and objectives, knowing how to build an improvised snow shelter and having experience camping in the snow and having technical rescue skills could be important too. This is why we offer a wide range of courses in the Cascades during the winter. 

With the updates and changes to the AIARE Curriculum (see the AIARE Rec 1 page for more information), we have also updated the ways that you can combine avalanche training with backcountry skiing and winter mountaineering instruction.

Winter Backcountry Skills Part 1:  Introduction to Backcountry Travel

By aligning the schedules multiple courses in our winter catalog, we have created a block of programming similar to our Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership progression that will allow someone who is new to the backcountry to quickly learn the fundamental skills to start venturing out on their own. This first block of programming includes the following:


You'll start off with two evening lecture sessions on the Monday and Wednesday before the main course block. Then we'll meet Friday morning near the Mt. Baker Ski area for our first day in the field learning about our backcountry gear and how to move efficiently uphill (and also get some great skiing in on the way back down!) The second and third field days will be part of AIARE curriculum and focus on avalanche education. Then the last field day on Monday will focus in on rescue skills and scenarios.

At the completion of this first block, you'll receive certificates of training for both the AIARE 1 and the AIARE Rescue Courses.

For the boarders out there - don't worry, we didn't forget about you. There's just a slight difference. Historically, our Intro to Splitboarding course has been two days, so we would have an extra day of skills that will give you more practice with transitioning your split set-up and more uphill time. This extra day would be on the Thursday after your evening avalanche lecture session. See the Dates and Details tab for pricing.


Skiing steep terrain in the backcountry.

Skiing steep terrain in the backcountry.  Danny Uhlmann

Backcountry Ski Course with Avalanche Training

Advanced Courses

You've taken the AIARE 1 course and the AIARE Avalanche Rescue course, and you've had a few days of skiing in the backcountry, but you're ready for more!

Avalanche awareness is of paramount importance in the mountains.

Now that you've had time to venture beyond the ski area boundaries and know the fundamentals of avalanche avoidance, it's time to take your abilities to the next level. That usually means getting away from the crowds and going further and deeper into the backcountry. A good way to achieve this remoteness is by doing a multi-day backcountry tour that involves camping in the snow. That can also mean that you don't have access to an updated avalanche hazard bulletin, so you'll have to be able to use your avalanche knowledge to predict what the upcoming hazards will be. 

Like we've done with the Winter Backcountry Skills Part 1, we've combined some of our more advanced courses into blocks of instruction that will give you a boost in your backcountry abilities by maximizing your time on the snow.

What's over that next ridgeline?
How do I get to that top of that steep chute?
What gear do I need for a multi-day tour?
Where is the best snow going to be?

Winter Backcountry Skills Part 2:  Intermediate Touring

This combination will give skiers and riders the skills to start going out on multi-day tours, hitting bigger slopes, and dealing with more complex avalanche terrain: 


You'll start with two online evening lecture sessions covering the core concepts of the AIARE Rec 2 curriculum, then have two field days focused on practicing those new avalanche skills. The next two days will work on terrain analysis, map, compass, and GPS use, track setting, route finding, and tour planning, all in an effort to get to the best snow slopes. 

After that, we'll venture into the backcountry with our overnight gear, build a shelter, and learn the nuances of camping in the winter. You'll get up the next morning and have the chance for a few laps on some great, remote slopes before packing up and heading back to the parking lot. 


Winter Backcountry Skills Part 3:  Ski Mountaineering

The third step in our course progression is the 6-day Ski Mountaineering Course. This course teaches you the fundamental skills to ski and splitboard on glaciated peaks. You'll learn how to ski roped up, rappel with your skis, build anchors with your skis, perform crevasse rescue with your skis, and more. Click on the Course name above to read more about the program.


Backcountry Ski Course with Avalanche Training

Dates and Details

Winter Backcountry Skills Part 1

  • Session 1 - Nov 30 - Dec 7, 2020 - Waitlist Available! 
    Avalanche Online evening avalanche lessons - Nov 30 & Dec 2
    Backcountry Ski Intro day - Dec 4
    Avalanche Field days at Mt. Baker - Dec 5 - 6
    Avalanche Rescue day - Dec 7


  • Session 2 - Jan 18 - Jan 25, 2021 - Waitlist Available!
    Avalanche Online evening avalanche lessons - Jan 18 & 20
    Backcountry Ski Intro day - Jan 22
    Avalanche Field days at Mt. Baker - Jan 23 - 24
    Avalanche Rescue day - Jan 25


  • Session 3 - Jan 25 - Feb 1, 2021 - Waitlist Available!
    Avalanche Online evening avalanche lessons - Jan 25 & 27
    Backcountry Ski Intro day - Jan 29
    Avalanche Field days at Mt. Baker - Jan 30 - Jan 31
    Avalanche Rescue day - Feb 1


  • Session 4 - Feb 15 - Feb 22, 2021 - Waitlist Available!
    Avalanche Online evening avalanche lessons - Feb 15 & 17
    Backcountry Ski Intro day - Feb 19
    Avalanche Field days at Mt. Baker - Feb 20 - Feb 21
    Avalanche Rescue day - Feb 22


  • Session 5 - Mar 9 - Mar 15, 2021 - Waitlist Available!
    Avalanche Online evening avalanche lessons - Mar 9 & 11
    Backcountry Ski Intro day - Mar 12
    Avalanche Field days at Mt. Baker - Mar 13 - 14
    Avalanche Rescue day - Mar 15



Winter Backcountry Skills Part 2

  • Session 1 - Dec 15 - 24, 2020 
    Avalanche Online evening avalanche lessons - Dec 15 & 17
    Avalanche field days at Mt. Baker - Dec 19 - 20
    Advanced Backcountry Ski/Splitboard days - Dec 21 - 22
    Winter Camping course - Dec 23 - 24


  • Session 2 - Jan 12 - 21, 2021
    Avalanche Online evening avalanche lessons Jan 12 & 14
    Avalanche field days at Mt. Baker - Jan 16 - 17
    Advanced Backcountry Ski/Splitboard days - Jan 18 - 19
    Winter Camping course - Jan 20 - 21


  • Session 3 - Feb 9 - 18, 2021
    Avalanche Online evening avalanche lessons Feb 9 & 11
    Avalanche field days at Mt. Baker - Feb 13 - 14
    Advanced Backcountry Ski/Splitboard days - Feb 15 -16
    Winter Camping course - Feb 17 - 18


  • Session 4 - Mar 2 - 11, 2021
    Avalanche Online evening avalanche lessons Mar 2 & 4
    Avalanche field days at Mt. Baker - Mar 6 - 7
    Advanced Backcountry Ski/Splitboard days - Mar 8 - 9
    Winter Camping course - Mar 10 - 11


Winter Backcountry Skills Part 3

Dates TBD



Winter Backcountry Skills Part 1 (ski) - $750 ($60 savings*)
Winter Backcountry Skills Part 1 (splitboard) - $900 ($75 savings*)

Winter Backcountry Skills Part 2 - $1120 ($90 savings*)

Minimum of 2 participants per section, per per group. Prices are available for private participants. Contact us for details.

* amount saved is in comparison to registering separately and taking the smaller parts of each block individually



Backcountry Ski Course with Avalanche Training

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