Backcountry Touring - Foothills - 2020

Backcountry Skiing Course

Backcountry Touring

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 Backcountry Touring Course teaches the skills and knowledge necessary to become a competent participant on  day tours in the backcountry. This course welcomes both alpine skiers and splitboarders who can ski or ride downhill at an advanced intermediate level or better at a lift-served resort. You must be able to make turns downhill in ungroomed variable snow conditions and slope angles safely and confidently.

To participate in the course field trips, you must complete an AIARE or AAA Level 1 avalanche safety course before the second field trip is held on 2/15/20. Note that this required avalanche safety course can be taken either with the Mountaineers or any accredited guide service or provider. The Foothills chapter is offering an AIARE 1 course that completes before the start of this backcountry touring course; please click here to learn more about it.


When you register for this course, the website should automatically register you for the required classroom sessions and field trips, including the overnight trip at the Mount Baker Lodge. You do not need to register separately for those.


  • 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
  • Selecting skin tracks
  • Selecting descent routes
  • 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, optional lectures, 2 required day field trips, and a required weekend stay at the Mountaineers Lodge at Mount Baker that will include 2 days of field trips. (You do not need to register separately for lodging at the Mount Baker Lodge weekend; it is included as part of the course registration and fee.)

The field trips are experiential learning opportunities; course members will plan the tours and practice making avalanche and conditions observations and route planning decisions under the supervision of the instructors.

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

Equipment Discount

Hagan Ski Mountaineering has graciously offered to support the Mountaineers by offering discounts to registered students of this course on all of the ski touring equipment they sell, including skis, boots, and bindings, except sale items and already discounted gear packages. Information on how to receive the discount will be shared with students once they are registered for the course. From Hagan:

"HAGAN specializes in Ski Mountaineering. It is all we do. No clothing, running shoes or downhill skis. With a 95-year heritage of skiing the Austrian Alps and the world’s widest selection of mountaineering skis, HAGAN is PURE SKI MOUNTAINEERING."

Additional Skiing Practice

Enjoy a mid-week break and develop your skills so you can have more fun skiing the backcountry. The Foothills Backcountry Skiing Committee has partnered with The Summit at Snoqualmie Snow Sports School for special group pricing on six weeks of telemark and randonne ski lessons at a Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA)-certified ski school in Snoqualmie West. There are separate groups and levels for A/T and for telemark. All levels are welcome and the registration deadline is December 15. More  information can be found here: Multiweek Telemark and Randonnee Ski Lessons.

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Additional badges needed to graduate


Required Equipment
  • The Ten Essentials
  • Metal-edged alpine touring (AT) or telemark skis or splitboard (nordic/XC skis without metal edges may not be used; snowboarders may not bootpack or use snowshoes for travel)
  • Appropriate alpine touring boots with a ski/walk mechanism, telemark boots, or snowboard boots that work with splitboard bindings
  • Appropriate  alpine touring, telemark, or splitboard bindings. For alpine touring bindings, non-frame "tech" or "pin" ones are preferred
  • Climbing skins that are trimmed to fit the skis/splitboard
  • Poles (adjustable length preferred)
  • Ski crampons that fit the skis and bindings (required)
  • Boot crampons (optional)
  • Avalanche safety tools (all required)
    • Modern 3-antenna beacon (should be less than five years old)
    • Collapsible probe (minimum 240cm length; ski poles that convert to a probe are not acceptable)
    • Metal avalanche shovel
  • Snow saw (optional)
  • Repair kit
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency kit - shelter, headlamp
  • Touring-appropriate clothing
  • Ski helmet
  • Pack that can comfortably carry all of the above equipment (including your skis/snowboard). Your pack must be able to carry all critical equipment, especially the avalanche safety tools (probe, snow saw, shovel) and ski crampons, in a manner that is both secure and easily accessible, ideally inside the body of the pack, not strapped to the outside of it.  It is useful if your pack also has touring-specific features such as compartments for safety tools and goggles as well as the means to securely attach or stow a helmet, boot crampons, and ice axes, simultaneously with your skis or snowboard. The first lecture will demonstrate and review proper packing and carrying of equipment.
Course Materials

There are no materials for this course.