Camp Highlights

  • Coaching and instruction from ACMG-certified ACC guides
  • BIPOC, women & non-binary, and splitboard specific weekends available
  • Two field days with pre course material
  • ACC Winter Backcountry Leader Handbook included in course fee

Dates & price

    Course dates:
    •  Dec 4 & 5, 2021 [Women & Non-Binary Only] *Choose to combine with AST1 Dec. 6 & 7, 2021
    •  Dec 11 & 12, 2021 [Splitboard Only]
    •  Dec 11 & 12, 2021
    •  Dec 28 & 29, 2021
    •  Jan 15 & 16, 2022
    •  Jan 22 & 23, 2022 
    • $315 + Tax / Person

Open the Door to More Powder and Less Crowds

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 and a free 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. 

Camp Objectives

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:

  • Terrain decisions
  • Safe travel practices
  • Hazard assessment
  • Efficient transitions
  • Layering systems 
  • Backcountry equipment and what to pack
  • Basic companion rescue 
  • Trip planning

  • Although some aspects of avalanche safety will be touched on, this is not a specialized Avalanche Safety Training course (which we would recommend taking in addition to this course). Our guides will be as accommodating as possible to each individual's unique goals and requirements so feel free come armed with specific questions or learning requests. 
    Day by Day Adventure Itinerary

    Evening Session

  • 6 PM (MST) on Zoom. The meeting link will be sent 1 week before course start date.
  • The meeting with break down the basic trip planning needed for a winter backcountry outing: research and resources, trip planning, weather considerations, hazard evaluation, difficulty assessment, basic backcountry gear systems, emergency gear, and clothing layering systems.
  • The session will last around one hour with the primary goal of going over gear so everyone feels ready when meeting on the first field day.

  • Day 1

  • Meet at Commonwealth Creek Parking (Kananaskis) at 9 AM (MST).
  • Go over gear and look at guide's pack
  • Short session on the use of avalanche gear; avalanche companion rescue scenario
  • Lunch & discussion of afternoon objectives
  • Short ski lap: learn to use your skins and travel efficiently uphill; modelling of safe travel and group management techniques in avalanche terrain; tips and tricks for downhill skiing in backcountry conditions
  • Back to the cars around 4 PM (MST)

  • Day 2

  • Early morning start (to be determined by the group) and travel to course area
  • Safety briefing and discussion of objective
  • Longer ski lap or laps: focus on efficient and safe travel;  
  • Is this Camp For Me?
    Entry Level

    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.

    Food, Accommodation and Guiding

    Food will not be provided as part of the course. So please bring along a packed lunch and some snacks for both days.


    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.

    Alison Cardinal, originally from Northern Ireland, has established herself in the Bow valley as an ACMG Ski Guide, one of the raddest moms around, and now one of our go-tos when it comes to our backcountry skiing programs. 

    Charles (Chucky) Gerrard, splitboard enthusiast and manufacturer, helped develop and now runs our splitboard specific courses. You can read all about Chucky in this recent ACC blog post.

    Erica Roles heads our women's program and we are excited to have her back for our women's only edition of the camp. Erica is focused and thoughtful when teaching and you can expect her to point out every learning opportunity possible during the camp.

    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 8:1.  

    The ACC hires guides certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG). Visit the ACMG website to learn more about what they do!

    Gear and Rentals

    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.


    • We transitioned from collecting the skis and skins from the rental shop on Friday having no idea what to do with them to skiing down fresh powder on a lateral moraine under Crowfoot glacier on the Sunday!
    • Erica is a phenomenal guide and instructor. She consistently checked back in with us and involved us in the decision making process, allowing us to learn by doing, which really made us think instead of blindly following.
    • Chucky is hands down the best teacher I have met with ACMG certification. He was positive, patient and did a good job balancing direct instruction and letting people learn by trial and error.
    - Winter 19/20 Course Participants-

    Common Course Destinations

    More Information

    - 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.

      Email us
      403 678 3200 ext. 213

    Course Documents

    Gear List
    ACC Liability Waiver (En)
    ACC Liability Waiver (Fr)
    Covid Health and Exposure Declaration
    ACC Model Release

    Cancellation policy and travel Insurance

    Please be sure to review our cancellation policy before registering for ACC Adventures:

    Cancellation Policy
    We sell Tugo® Travel Insurance suitable for both ACC Adventures and personal trips

    Travel Insurance


    • 2 days instruction by ACMG certified ski guides
    • Office staff support before the course to help with gear and questions
    • Winter Backcountry Leader Handbook

    Participants Must Provide

    • Transportation to and from the field
    • Accommodation
    • Meals and lunches
    • Personal gear (see gear list)

    Organizing Fantastic ACC Adventures For Over 100 Years

    • Local Knowledge: Based out of Canmore, AB, we know the Rockies region and the best local caterers, guides and porters
    • Dedicated resources: Full-time office staff, ACMG guides and group equipment on-hand to ensure your trip runs smoothly
    • Not-for-profit: Any money we make on camps and courses is reinvested into providing services for our members and the mountain community

    Your Guides

    Alison Cardinal

    Alison moved to Canmore from Northern Ireland, and has spent a lot of time hill walking in the rain in Scotland as well as climbing and skiing in Chamonix, the Dolomites, the Pyrenees and Kenya. She is a certified backpacking guide and full ski guide certified through the ACMG. Alison is an active trip leader with the Rocky Mountain Section and the National office.

    Erica Roles

    Erica has been working as a guide since 2005 and became Canada's 11th Female IFMGA Mountain Guide in 2018. Born in the UK, she spent much of her childhood in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. She moved to Canada with her family in 1998 and fell in love with the mountains of Western Canada. Erica began her ski career as a Pro Ski Patroller at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Wanting to share her passion for the mountains with other people led her to a career in guiding. These days Erica splits her time between guiding, playing in the mountains with friends, and hanging out with her daughter Grace. Erica has worked for a number of different guiding operations throughout the ranges of Western Canada. She loves guiding because she gets to spend time in beautiful places but also because of the people she meets and the experiences she gets to share with them.

    Chucky Gerrard

    Participants and staff at the GMC are probably familiar with Charles “Chucky” Gerrard as the guy who keeps the camp running, can improvise a fix for almost anything with a roll of duct tape and the parts from an old dirt bike, and makes sure that everybody gets to where they’re going. In the winter, he does double-duty as an ACMG guide and a Level 4 snowboard instructor with CASI (Canadian Alliance of Snowboard Instructors). In his spare time, he hand builds his own gear.