Ski & Snowboard Mountaineering - Foothills - 2023

Backcountry Skiing Course

Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering

This introduction to backcountry travel teaches skiers and splitboarders the skills necessary to venture outside resort boundaries and travel in unmanaged backcountry terrain.

Ski & Snowboard Mountaineering Course (SSM)

This course is intended for skiers and boarders who are in good physical condition and can ski / ride at an advanced level in a lift-served resort.  Participants should be able to descend black diamond runs confidently in difficult snow conditions.  Field trips will require travel in backcountry settings, where ungroomed snow and obstacles such as trees, rocks and narrow paths pose serious challenges.

Students will learn the basic skills to safely travel in the winter backcountry.  Completion of this course prepares skiers and boarders to participate in Mountaineers day touring trips rated M1-M3.

The primary goals of this course are safety, emergency preparedness, and uphill travel.  Key learning objectives are

  • Traveling uphill and negotiating steep terrain
  • Understanding mountain weather
  • Planning backcountry trips
  • Understanding winter health and safety considerations
  • Managing emergencies: building shelters and emergency evacuation
  • Camping in winter conditions

Technical mountaineering skills such as roped travel, snow anchors, belaying and rescue are OUTSIDE THE SCOPE OF THIS COURSE.

The course consists of

  • Eight 2 hour evening lecture sessions including Backcountry Equipment, Weather, Emergency Bivouac, Equipment Repair, Winter Camping, Winter Health & Safety, Emergency Evacuation, Trip Planning, and Winter Navigation.
  • Up to 1 hour of reading, prepared exercises or self-study per week.
  • A one-day Basic Maneuvers field trip including familiarization with equipment, uphill travel, transitions, route finding and preparation of an emergency bivouac.
  • A two-day overnight field trip including route finding, navigation, construction of snow shelters, and winter camping in snow shelters.

To Participate in this course students must:

  1. Have completed a Basic Navigation course or the basic climbing course.
  2. Have completed or be enrolled in an AIARE Level One avalanche course. Students must complete AIARE level-one to participate in the Overnight Field Trip.

To graduate from this course students must:

  1. Attend all lectures and field trips.
  2. Complete a Glacier Travel, Crevasse Rescue Course or have completed that training through basic climbing.
  3. Complete a Wilderness First Aid Course.
  4. Complete three M-level tours, one of which is an overnight trip (not the overnight field trip).
Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
Winter Weather
Online Classroom
Tue, Jan 30, 2024
Registration closes Jan 28
8 participants on waitlist
11 instructors
Emergency Bivy and Repairs
Online Classroom
Thu, Feb 1, 2024
Registration closes Jan 30
3 participants on waitlist
13 instructors
Basic Manuevers Field Trip (optional)
Sat, Feb 3, 2024
Registration closes Feb 1
5 participants on waitlist
Winter Camping
Online Classroom
Tue, Feb 6, 2024
Registration closes Feb 4
3 participants on waitlist
12 instructors
Winter Health and Safety
Mercer Island Community Center
Thu, Feb 8, 2024
Registration closes Feb 6
2 participants
14 instructors
Emergency Evacuation
Online Classroom
Thu, Feb 15, 2024
Registration closes Feb 13
3 participants on waitlist
12 instructors
Navigation 1: Trip Planning
Online Classroom
Tue, Feb 27, 2024
Registration closes Feb 25
2 participants
9 instructors
Navigation 2: Trip Execution
Mercer Island Community Center
Thu, Feb 29, 2024
Registration closes Feb 27
2 participants
11 instructors
Overnight Field Trip (optional)
Mount McCausland
Sat, Mar 2, 2024 -
Sun, Mar 3, 2024
Registration closes Feb 29
1 participant on waitlist
Smith Brook Area
Sat, Mar 2, 2024 -
Sun, Mar 3, 2024
Registration closes Feb 29
5 participants
Required Equipment

Metal edged skis and climbing skins or snowboard with workable uphill climbing system (skins or approach skis, no snowshoes)

Shovel, avalanche probe and 457 kHz avalanche transceiver.

Winter 10 essentials

A compass and the following maps

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.