Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Course

Backcountry Skiing Course

Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Course

Introduction to backcountry travel for skiers and snowboarders.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers course.

This course is designed for AT/Randonee skiers, splitboarders, and telemarkers with an advanced intermediate skill level or better. You must be able to travel downhill in variable conditions and trees safely/confidently.   A prerequisite for the course is having completed an AIARE or AAA Level 1 course within the last 3 years. You need to show your completion certificate as a prerequisite for enrollment.


  • Become a competent and engaged group member on Mountaineers day touring trips rated M1-M3 (no glacier travel) 
  • Plan and execute day tours in the backcountry by evaluating important safety factors such as weather, terrain, avalanche risk, and group fitness
  • Demonstrate correct use of the equipment necessary for backcountry touring
  • Demonstrate mastery of backcountry touring skills such as kick-turns, ascending with climbing skins, skiing downhill on touring gear with a heavy pack, and transitions
  • Demonstrate ability to build an emergency shelter in the snow
  • Demonstrate successful practice of avalanche safety skills including route planning, observation, identification of avalanche hazards, beacon use, and companion rescue


This course includes 3 required lectures and 3 required day field trips. There will be an optional overnight ski tour weekend with snow cave camping.

The field trips are tours where we will "put it all together".  Students will plan where we go (tour planning) and they will make observations and decisions on how to travel uphill and downhill (route finding/group decision making). Each student has to be a vocal member of the decision-making process. Every student will practice their avalanche and touring skills in the backcountry while also receiving coaching and feedback.

Note: Field trip locations and dates may change depending on weather, avalanche forecasts, road closings, or other conditions.

The classroom lectures will be in a meeting room at the Seattle Program Center at 7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115. Please bring pen and paper for taking notes. Equipment will be discussed at the first lecture.  Shovels, probes, avalanche transceivers and either backcountry skis or splitboards are required for field trips.

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Required Equipment
  • The Ten Essentials
  • Boots, skis/snowboard, poles, ascension skins
  • Avalanche shovel (metal blade)
  • Avalanche beacon
  • Avalanche probe
  • Winter weight sleeping bag/pad/bivy (optional)
Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.