Backcountry Ski Course with Avalanche Training


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 of multiple courses in our winter catalog, we have created a block of programming that will allow someone who is new to the backcountry to quickly learn the fundamental skills to start venturing out on their own. The first block of programming includes the following:


During each block of programming, you will spend a day (or two, if you are a splitboarder) learning the fundamentals of backcountry skiing, you’ll learn how to use your gear, where and how to set a skin track, and other useful skills. Following that, you will spend either two online evenings or one full in-person day on AIARE 1 lecture material. The following three days will be spent in the field completing your AIARE 1 and AIARE Rescue course.  Our AIARE 1 course provides students with the tools, knowledge, and decision-making skills necessary to minimize your exposure to risk in avalanche terrain. Knowing how to judge avalanche conditions, where it's more dangerous to travel versus where it is less dangerous, and being able to carry out a successful rescue if caught in an avalanche, are essential skills that everyone should be aware of and familiar with before heading into the backcountry.

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 (Ski) - $1195

5-day In-person Sessions

  • Dec 9 - Dec 13
  • Jan 13 - Jan 17
  • Jan 27 - Jan 31
  • Feb 24 - Feb 28


Hybrid Session with 2 evening Avalanche Lectures and 4 days in the Snow

  • Dec 17, 19 with Dec 20 - 23 field days
  • Dec 31, Jan 1 with Jan 3-6 field days
  • Feb 11, 13 with Feb 14-17 field days


Winter Backcountry Skills Part 1 (Splitboard) - $1450

2 days on the snow for splitboad skills, 1 day off, then 1 day in-person avalanche classroom session, and 3 more days on the snow

  • Dec 7-8, Dec 10-13 
  • Jan 11-12, Jan 14-17
  • Jan 25-26, Jan 28-31
  • Feb 22-23, Feb 25-28


Winter Backcountry Skills Part 2

  • 2024/2025 Dates TBD


Winter Backcountry Skills Part 3

  • 2024/2025 Dates TBD



Minimum of 3 participants per section, per group. Prices are available for private participants. Contact us for details.



Backcountry Ski Course with Avalanche Training

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