Backcountry Skiing - Intro


This 1-day course is designed for those that have intermediate level in-bounds resort skiing experience and want to learn how to take the skills they already have and move out of the ski area and into the backcountry. 

Washington's Mt. Baker wilderness offers plenty of varied and beautiful backcountry skiing. This area is 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.

Ouray lies in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. These mountains provide fulfilling backcountry ski experiences for all skiers alike. The low density continental snowpack and short-lived storms combine to make the Colorado backcountry one of the most sought-after destinations for ski touring in all of the United States. 

A skier skins uphill in the Mt. Baker backcountry.

A skier skins uphill in the Mt. Baker backcountry. Scott Schumann

Mt Baker Wilderness Curriculum

We'll start off by meeting at Mt. Baker at the Upper Heather Meadows parking lot. We'll introduce you to the equipment necessary for backcountry skiing and discuss the differences in modern equipment, including skis, bindings, and skins. We'll also discuss the crucial avalanche safety equipment needed to move through the backcountry and review it's basic functions. Once everyone is properly outfitted, we'll head out into the backcountry.

Once on the snow, we'll begin our first tour in the the beautiful ungroomed alpine terrain in the Baker backcountry. We'll move slowly as we introduce many of the fundamental concepts such as terrain selection and evaluation, track setting, route finding, proper use of ski touring equipment and specific movement skills for backcountry conditions.

San Juan Mountains Curriculum

This course will have the same curriculum as the Mt Baker course, see above. Once everyone is properly outfitted, we'll head out into the backcountry of the San Juans and enjoy some contiental powder.

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 2-day advanced backcountry ski course. Those who are 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 - Intro


Course Goals

At the intro level, this course is aimed at developing the hard skills and techniques associated with uphill and downhill travel on alpine touring and telemark gear. 

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

  • Ski touring gear
  • Transceivers and avalanche equipment
  • Uphill movement skills
  • Track setting
  • Terrain selection
  • 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 - Intro

Dates & Details

Mt Baker, WA:

    • 2024/2025 Dates TBD

Additional dates may be available, but subject to private program pricing. Call or email for potential availability.

Ouray, CO:

  • 2024/25 Dates TBD

Additional dates may be available, but subject to private program pricing. Call or email for potential availability.


Participants in this course should have intermediate level in-bounds skiing abilities (successfully and confidently ski blue runs at a ski area). Since we will be moving uphill under our own power, participants need to also be in good physical condition.


Max Ratio – 4:1

Capacity - 8


Backcountry Intro and Avalanche Course Combo

This course can be combined with our AIARE 1 Avalanche Course and the singe-day Avalanche Rescue Course to create a block of backcountry instruction that will give you the fundamental skills to start going out into the backcountry on your own. If combined, you will be eligible for a discounted rate.

For more information on the Winter Backcountry Skills Course, click here.


Backcountry Skiing - Intro

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