Extreme Skiing

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Flying down a steep chute.

Flying down a steep chute.
Lyle Haugsven

Everyone has heard the words, "extreme skiing." Certain images may come to mind such as steep faces, skiers pointing it down huge lines, exact movements above severe exposure, descending magnificent peaks, and dropping into sheer couloirs filled with champagne powder. It's a dream world, filled with jagged peaks and imposing lines. It's a place that perhaps seems unreachable to the recreational skier.

However, with AAI's expert instruction, that no longer needs to be the case...

If you are a strong alpine skier that dreams of skiing steep chutes and epic couloirs, but does not know how to access these places that seem like they should be reached with a rope and an ice axe, then AAI can help you discover this untapped terrain! In our five-day Extreme Skiing Course, you will improve your extreme skiing technique and learn the skills needed to be a confident big mountain skier.

Extreme Skiing


This course is designed to build your confidence, teach you the technical skills required to explore steep and complex backcountry ski terrain, and to push you to the limit on your skis. The curriculum was developed to learn these skills through a combination of both day tours and a multi-day tour in the Mount Baker backcountry.

Skier Mike Arnold climbing up the rock traverse to the Col de Beaugeant in Chamonix, France.

Skier Mike Arnold climbing up the rock traverse to the Col de Beaugeant in Chamonix, France.
Erin Smart

Curriculum to be included in the course, which can be adjusted to your needs and interests, will be:

  • Route selection and appropriate equipment for your objective
  • Rappelling with your skis
  • Transitions in complex terrain
  • Building improvised snow anchors
  • Steep skiing techniques
  • Terrain selection and decision making
  • Techniques for skiing couloirs
  • Tricks and techniques for snow camping on backcountry ski trips
  • Ice-axe and crampon techniques
  • Navigation with a map, compass, altimeter and GPS
  • Avalanche awareness and companion rescue
  • Crevasse rescue


To get the most out of your course, you need to be in very good physical fitness, which means being able to efficiently ascend and descend 5,000 feet in one day, comfortably ski black diamond runs in all snow conditions, and have an advanced backcountry skiing ability. It is also recommended to have taken the AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course prior to this course.



This five-day itinerary is an outline and may be adjusted based on conditions and weather but it will be full of skills and steep backcountry skiing!

Day 1:  We will meet at AAI's Equipment shop at 7am where we will check your gear and take care of any last minute purchases or rentals. After that, we will make our way out into the Mount Baker Backcountry for a day of touring with a focus on backcountry ski techniques. This will include uphill travel, variable snow conditions, terrain selection, and steep skiing skills.

Day 2:  We will fine-tune our backcountry skills for the multi-day tour by exploring more of the Mt Baker backcountry. Our skiing objective for the day is the "Stoneman" couloir off of Mt Herman. Ski mountaineering skills will be introduced, such as the use of a rope, rappelling, avalanche awareness, snow anchor construction, and ice axe technique.

Days 3-5:  On days three to five, we will tour deep into the Mt. Baker backcountry where you will put your skills to use as we access some of the best terrain in the country. These three days will be spent exploring steep terrain, learning crevasse rescue, perfecting your ski mountaineering skills, and camping in the snow. Depending on weather and snow conditions, possible objectives include the BYS or Northwest Couloir on Mt. Shuksan, the Fisher Chimney Couloir off the Shuksan arm, and many more.


Extreme Skiing

Dates and Details

  • This course is offered on a private or private group basis. Please call or email info@alpineinstitute.com for availability. 


Skier Erin Smart in the Couloir Girose.

Skier Erin Smart in the Couloir Girose.  Tim Connelly

Extreme Skiing

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