Backcountry Skiing - Advanced


"One run in the backcountry is worth ten in the front country." This is so commonly said that it has become a cliche. . . and, yet, it's true. Come and join us on our 2-day clinic designed to follow up on and refine the skills covered in our Intro to Backcountry Skiing course.  You'll solidify the basics, then develop more sophisticated techniques to enable you to venture far beyond the constraints of the ski area and into the deep backcountry, where the real freedom of skiing begins.

A skier in the North Cascades.

A skier in the North Cascades.  Andy Bourne

Mt. Baker Wilderness

Day 1 - We begin at Heather Meadows Lodge at the Mount Baker ski area. We start with introducing avalanche beacons, shovels and probes by practicing their proper storage, function and use. We will also learn about basic backcountry equipment such as skins, bindings, etc. With this knowledge we begin our first tour moving slowly as to introduce many of the fundamental concepts such as terrain selection and evaluation, track setting, route finding, proper use of ski touring equipment and safety.

Day 2 -We will meet in the ski lodge and introduce navigational equipment covering the skills required for a tour plan. We then head to the backcountry where we will cover more terrain and have the opportunity for down hill track setting and safe efficient group movement. We will introduce navigational skills and continue to review and fine-tune all of the skills while receiving hands-on coaching and feedback.

Follow-Up Training

Participants have many options for continuing their backcountry ski training and snow safety education.  Our avalanche safety courses will deepen students' understanding of the terrain and snowpack, and of how route selection and other decisions can protect skiers from avalanche accidents. The 3-day AIARE Rec 1 Avalanche Course and follow-up AIARE Avalanche Rescue Course (1 day) are critically important for serious backcountry travelers.

Or skiers can elect to continue their backcountry ski training with a 6-day Ski Mountaineering course.  Those who are still unfamiliar with overnight camping in the winter should take our overnight Winter Camping course to build skills for a long career of earning turns in untracked powder.

Backcountry Skiing - Advanced


Course Goals

In each of our courses, we seek to help you develop a good working knowledge of:

  • Ski touring gear
  • Transceivers and avalanche equipment
  • Skiing technique
  • Terrain analysis for uphill and downhill track laying
  • Use of map and compass
  • Tour planning
  • We will also help refine personal backcountry skiing skills


All course leaders have extensive experience with ski instruction, rescue, and backcountry site analysis in the Cascades and other ranges. They are all AIARE Avalanche Level 1 and 2 certified, and many are avalanche instructors.

Backcountry Skiing - Advanced

Dates & Details

Cost (Public Courses)

Max Ratio (skier:guide): 4:1

Mt. Baker Wilderness Dates:

    • 2024/2025 Dates TBD


Capacity: 8

Private Program:

This course is available on a private or private group basis if the listed dates do not fit your schedule. Pricing for private instruction can be found on our Guided Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding in the Cascades page.


San Juan Mountains and Sierra Nevada Range:

Please contact the office at 360-671-1505 (Toll Free: 1-800-424-2249) or email: [email protected] to arrange dates for these two program locations.

Backcountry Skiing - Advanced


Mt. Baker Wilderness, Washington

Washington's Mt. Baker wilderness offers plenty of varied and beautiful backcountry skiing. This area is frequently blessed with ample snow (the Mt. Baker Ski Area holds the world record for snowfall!), and continues to provide both pristine skiing as well as a perfect classroom setting.

San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Skiing in the backcountry near Red Mountain Pass, Ouray, CO.

Skiing in the backcountry near Red Mountain Pass, Ouray, CO.
Dylan Taylor

The San Juan mountains, a sub-range of the Colorado Rockies, have some of the best power stashes in North America. The low density snow continental snowpack and the short-lived storms combine to make the Colorado backcountry one of the most sought after destinations for ski touring in the US. However, leaving the groomed trails of the ski area in order to pursue fresh tracks in the backcountry takes some special knowledge and training to do safely.

This Intro to Backcountry skiing program is aimed at ski touring for mountaineering and off-piste ski tours. The high mountains and deep valleys of the Red Mountain Pass area above Ouray provides an ideal location for both beginner and advanced skiers alike.

Sierra Nevada Range, California

An AAI group skiing into the Rock Creek drainage with Bear Creek Spire behind.

An AAI group skiing into the Rock Creek drainage with Bear Creek Spire behind.  Dylan Taylor

The Sierra Nevada Range is a virtual alpine playground in every season. As with most mountain ranges, the locals eagerly anticipate the end of the busy summer season and the start of the quieter winter season. The Sierra gets a healthy dumping of snow, but that isn't what makes it unique. The chance to complete long alpine traverses, ascents, and descents under blue skies is what brings backcountry skiers back to the high mountains of the Sierra year after year.

The storms in the Sierra tend to come and go quickly, leaving miles and miles of light powder and clear skies in their wake. The terrain in the Sierra, dramatic rides and steep couloirs, couldn't be more suited for ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing at all levels.

Backcountry Skiing - Advanced

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