Backcountry Touring Course - Tacoma - 2021

Backcountry Skiing Course

Backcountry Touring 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 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 (ski blues confidently) 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.


  • Lecture 1. Date: Tuesday (11/17/20): Intro to backcountry touring and equipment
  • Lecture 2. Date: Tuesday (2/2/20). Trip planning, weather, and navigation
  • Field trip 1. Date: Saturday (2/13/20). Basic backcountry travel skills
  • Lecture 3. Date: Tuesday (2/16/20). Winter health and safety, Emergency response, shelters, equipment repair
  • Field trip 2. Date: Saturday (2/20/21). Day tour and intermediate travel skills
  • Field trip 3, Dates: Saturday or Sunday - (March 6\7).  Day-long backcountry tour


  • 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 successful practice of avalanche safety skills including route planning, observation, identification of avalanche hazards, and beacon use.


This course includes 3 required lectures and 3 required day field trips.

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.

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 (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.