Banff / Canmore Guides Archives - Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures


The Experiential Benefit of Backcountry Huts and Lodges

Mon, 5th Mar 2018  /  By Vince Shuley
Whistler backcountry huts Rockies

Camping in the winter backcountry takes some motivation. It’s cold, there’s a lot of gear and supplies to carry and there is just a thin sheet of nylon between your sleeping bag and the outside elements. But there’s an alternative to roughing it in the snow in the form of backcountry huts and lodges. Usually positioned around treeline elevation a few hours hike from the trailhead, these structures allow backcountry enthusiasts to carry in food and sleeping gear from their vehicles then ski tour, unhindered, for the rest of their trip. No cold tents and sleepless nights. No long retreat back to civilization. Just wake up, eat your oatmeal and get an express start to...

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Introduction to Crevasse Rescue Part 1 – The Gear

Wed, 22nd Mar 2017  /  By Vince Shuley

Ski mountaineering season will soon be upon us and that means going after bigger objectives in more technical terrain. One of the gateways to standing on summits and skiing couloirs in western Canada is glaciers. These stretching snow-covered ice sheets  provide suitable access routes and great low-angle skiing. But a caveat of glacier travel - whether on skis, skins or snowshoes - is the prevalence of crevasses. These gaping cracks form where the glacial ice in tension, creating a dangerous fall hazard. [caption id="attachment_3809" align="alignnone" width="710"] Travelling roped up in groups requires practice and good team communication[/caption] By mid-winter...

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8 Benefits of Hiring a Backcountry Ski Guide

Tue, 21st Feb 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
backcountry ski guide

Skiing in the backcountry is awesome. There's way less tracks, it's a great workout and there's no real noise except your own. But the best thing? It's free. Even though many folks choose to enter the backcountry via the lift system of ski resorts, there's usually a way to access that public land without having to fork out for a lift ticket. Why then, would you pay to have someone guide you in the backcountry? Well, since Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures has been guiding since 1991, we've accumulated more than a few reasons as to why it puts more smiles on more guests' faces. And in case you were on the fence about signing up for a backcountry freeride tour, h...

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Level Up with a Rock Climbing Course

Sat, 20th Aug 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
rock climbing course

Like many sports, rock climbing has a steep learning curve when starting out. Many aspiring rock climbers begin their journey in an indoor climbing gym before trying their hand (and feet) at outdoor rock. Some climbers take to outdoor walls quickly, rapidly developing the skills and strength required for more difficult routes and are soon ready to attempt their first lead climb. But for each significant step to becoming an accomplished rock climber, the more skills are required to keep the climber and their partner safe. That's when it's worth investing in some training from a professional with a rock climbing course. I'm ready to climb outside As great as climbing gyms...

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Beginner’s Guide to Rock Climbing

Tue, 17th May 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
Performance Alpine Clinic Rock Climbing Canada

Of all the mountain pursuits, rock climbing can be one of the most intimidating. Watching videos of professional athletes ascend impossible-looking vertical walls with nothing but tiny ledges for grip, it's not hard to see why it can be perceived elitist-only sport. But like every experienced rock climber, the pros had to start somewhere. In this Beginner's Guide to Rock Climbing, we'll hopefully dispel some of the perceived barriers to the sport and show that with a bit of perseverance, anyone can do it. Step 1: Own the Fear While those with acrophobia (fear of heights) would likely be the last to try rock climbing, you may be surprised how many climbers have to learne...

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Crevasse Rescue Training for Skiers

Sun, 13th Mar 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
crevasse rescue training

Ski touring takes us to some amazing places in the mountains. But those mountains can be fraught with dangers such as avalanches. But lurking ounder the snow surface is another  another hidden hazard - gaping cracks in snow and ice that can swallow people whole, also known as crevasses. For this reason, every backcountry skier or boarder travelling over glaciated terrain - particularly in the early winter and spring months - should take some form of crevasse rescue training. [caption id="attachment_2960" align="alignnone" width="710"] Indoor (dryland) crevasse rescue training is a great way to introduce the technique, but training on snow is essential[/caption] R...

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4 Reasons for Ski Touring Rogers Pass

Sun, 28th Feb 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
ski touring Rogers Pass

Anyone who has spent time in British Columbia's winter backcountry has no doubt heard of the ski touring in Rogers Pass. The infamous mountain road that links the Trans Canada Highway between Revelstoke and Golden is the most avalanche-prone area in the country. That can mean frequent road closures during storms while government avalanche control workers fire howitzers from the road side and drop explosives in the alpine. But when the avalanche danger subsides, ski touring in Rogers Pass is some of the best in the world. Here's four reasons why.   [caption id="attachment_2934" align="alignnone" width="710"] Grandness of the Rockies with snowfall of the Coast. B...

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AST 2 Avalanche Course – Higher Learning

Fri, 29th Jan 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
AST 2 avalanche course Whistler

Why take the AST 2? One of the most common misconceptions with avalanche education is that a course (such as the AST 1) leads to the candidate becoming "certified" for winter backcountry travel. As any ski guide will attest, all avalanche training is part of ongoing education. That applies whether you're a first-year backcountry rookie in Whistler or a ski guide in Revelstoke with more than 15 years experience. After a season or two of gaining experience and awareness of avalanche terrain, the next step for recreationists is investing in the four-day AST 2 course. [caption id="attachment_2832" align="alignnone" width="710"] When it comes to avalanches, prevention is b...

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AST 1 Avalanche Course (FAQs)

Wed, 25th Nov 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Powder Skiing Rogers Pass

The motivation to travel beyond the ski resort boundary rope has never been bigger. Ski and snowboard touring equipment is lighter, stronger and stiffer than ever before. Tracks fill out resorts on powder days in less time than it takes to cook pasta. People are yearning for fresh terrain, fresh tracks and fresh experiences. The prerequisite? Getting educated with an avalanche course. To help bring you up to speed on this essential piece of mountain education, we've answered some Frequently Asked Questions. Where do I Start? If you're an advanced freerider looking to shred backcountry lines and haven't taken an avalanche course yet, the Avalanche Skills Training Level 1...

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AST1 & Backcountry Skiing Discounts

Wed, 25th Nov 2015  /  By eric dumerac
AST 1 Field Day Canadian Rockies

Welcome winter, 2015/2016 We've well and truly said goodbye to summer here at Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures, and we couldn't be more excited to welcome in the winter. It's time to dust off the skis and touring gear, for another season of winter adventures! Over the last few weeks we have been busy putting together our course outlines and dates for Avalanche Skills Training (in Whistler/Squamish, and Banff/Canmore), Ski Mountaineering & Ice Climbing across Canada. Whether you are based in the Whistler/Squamish area, or in Banff/Canmore, there are many ways you can make sure you tick off some of those winter 'bucket list' objectives you've been plannin...

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Helpful Rockies and Whistler weather resources

Thu, 29th Oct 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Snowmaking Gun Valle Nevado

As the northerners of Westeros have prophesized, winter is coming. The 2015/16 season is going to be one of those nail biters, with every news and ski media outlet throwing out their two cents of what El Niño will bring. Rather than join the circus of speculation, today we're going to share the most helpful Rockies and Whistler weather resources. A note on weather forecasts: Despite the vast technological advances in weather modelling used by scientists and meteorologists, a chaotic element remains embedded in every weather system. Meaning, when the weather doesn't quite match the forecast, shooting (or online trolling) the messenger isn't going to improve the quality o...

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Essential Mountaineering Gear

Thu, 15th Oct 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Essential Mountaineering Gear

Last week we talked about how October is one of the best months for alpine climbing and with some sun left in this month's forecast, there's still time to tick off a few objectives. If you're new to climbing or mountaineering, the equipment, skills and physical exertion required to make it to the top of a mountain can seem a little daunting at first and likely, outside a lot of people's budgets. The great thing about mountaineering gear is that it's built to last; stainless steel teeth, aircraft aluminium shafts, nickel-plated threads. Hardware may need some sharpening after a couple seasons of heavy use, but otherwise it won't deteriorate at the same rate as skis and ou...

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October: the golden month for alpine climbing

Wed, 7th Oct 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Alpine Climbing Ice

By Eric Dumerac October is likely the most undervalued month of the year when it comes to alpine climbing and mountaineering. The days are definitely shorter and colder, but not necessarily wetter. In fact, October in the Canadian Rockies (and often in the Coast Range as well) will often see a spell of high pressure, up to 14 days in a row of those sought-after sun icons on the weather forecast. Cold and sunny conditions are the most suitable for alpine climbing, especially in the event of a stable high pressure system. You can usually find this by looking at extended forecasts and looking for consecutive sunny days, with little winds and low Probability of Precipit...

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Essential Mountain Education: First Aid Course

Wed, 23rd Sep 2015  /  By Vince Shuley

Have you ever been hurt in the mountains or been there when one of your friends were? If it was in a ski resort then you likely only had to wait a few minutes before a ski patroller came to the rescue or in the case of it being a more serious injury, called in the cavalry in the form of toboggan or even a helicopter to get your broken self to emergency medical care. But out in the backcountry it's a different story. If you are lucky enough to have contact via cell phone or a satellite communicator in an emergency then Search and Rescue can be dispatched to your approximate location straight away, though if the hours of remaining daylight are few, a rescue will often be p...

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