Eyeing the untracked powder beyond the resort boundary, but not sure how to transition to the backcountry safely and responsibly? Our entry level ski & splitboard course is designed for you! Whether it's deciding where to ride, assessing the snowpack or understanding the gear, our highly trained and experienced ACMG guides will show you the way. A included copy of the ACC's Winter Backcountry Leader Manual will provide valuable reference material once you're ready to go it alone.
As well as our regular course dates, we offer a women & non-binary-only edition for those looking for a gender-inclusive learning environment. And we also offer splitboard-specific editions which are taught by splitboarding guru, Chucky Gerrard.
Whichever, you choose, our fantastic location in Canmore, AB, gives access to the perfect learning environment in nearby Kananaskis and Banff National Park. For those coming from further afield, enjoy our convenient on-site, award winning hostel accommodation for a modest additional fee.
The main focus of this course is giving you the tools you need to start exploring the backcountry independently. Key topics of learning will include:
This camp is designed for those who have little to no backcountry experience. However, an intermediate level of ski experience at a resort is essential - you must be comfortable on ungroomed blue runs and you will have a better time on the course if you have some experience skiing with a daypack (30L) and skiing varied terrain and conditions.
You will spend almost all day outside (up to 8 hours), sometimes stopping for discussion or breaks. Come prepared for cold weather with warm layers and please read the gear list carefully making sure you have everything. It is imperative that you have a basic level of fitness to allow for access and learning.
If you have any questions about your suitability for this course, please contact the office before registering.
Accommodation is not provided on this course
Our dedicated on-staff Ski Guide Doug Latimer oversees all of our winter introductory programs. Doug has almost 20 years of experience in teaching AST and other winter instructional courses, as well as in developing course materials and ski guiding. We are extremely excited to have him on board for a third season after rave reviews in previous seasons.
We want to provide the best possible learning experience and give you maximum opportunity to ask questions. So participant-to-guide ratios will be kept below a maximum of 6:1.
The ACC hires guides certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG). Visit the ACMG website to learn more about what they do!
Don't have everything on the gear list (found on the right hand side of this webpage)? We recommend heading to Gear Up in Canmore to grab any items your might be missing. To ensure availability of items call ahead to book. ACC members get a 10% discount.
Chris Girard is an ACMG Ski Guide based out of Cochrane, Alberta and takes great pleasure is sharing his passion for the mountains. His guiding aspirations began through volunteering and leading trips through various ACC sections.
In addition to being an ACMG Ski Guide, Chris is also a professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association, and an AST Provider with Avalanche Canada. Now a Father of two, Chris is well practiced in staying calm and keeping his sense of humour in times of chaos. During his off season, Chris works as a guide on the Athabasca Glacier.
Derek has a nine year background in industrial avalanche forecasting for mining and railway operations in BC and AB. He is now transitioning to guiding with both apprentice ski and rock guiding certifications. Derek is a passionate skier and rock climber, who loves sharing his knowledge and helping others achieve their goals in the mountains.
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Backcountry Skiing Hazards
Before registering, please review our Waivers and Liability page as well as the Cancelation policies.
Please try to register online before calling. If you are having issues please try to have your emergency contact information and course questionnaire filled out before calling.