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An Ode to the Glacier Walk

Wed, 25th Jul 2018  /  By Vince Shuley
Glacier walk

Hiking through the mountains of British Columbia, sooner or later you'll need to cross a glacier. These ancient remnants of our last ice age elicit both awe and curiosity and come in every possible shape, size and thickness. They may require specialized equipment to traverse or climb them. But for the non-polar explorers, the so called "glacier walk" lets people experience the sensation of travelling over ice and snow in without committing to an arduous mountaineering trip. Click here for our guided hiking tours, if your looking for a traditional wilderness hiking experience. [caption id="attachment_3139" align="alignnone" width="710"] At 77km long, the Fedchenko Gl...

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4 Benefits of Boosting Your Mountain Navigation Skills

Thu, 19th Oct 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
4-season tent winter camping

Being guided around the winter backcountry for the first time can be an awe-inspiring experience, whether by an experienced friend, a friend of a friend or a qualified ski guide. There's a sense of accomplishment from being completely self-sufficient in the mountains; carrying all your gear to survive on your back as you climb and descend untouched powder slopes. But when it's time to explore new areas without guidance, getting in and out of the mountains - safely - takes on a whole new meaning. Avalanche education is the first step to making winter backcountry safer. But an Avalanche Skills Training (AST) 1 course is quite condensed and focuses primarily on rescue scenar...

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Iron, Rock, Snow and Ice – 2016 in Review

Thu, 22nd Dec 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
2016 in review

What a year it has been for us here at Mountain Skills Academy! In case you don’t keep up with our updates on our Facebook page and Instagram feed (you definitely should), we’ve had some standout moments in 2016. From ski touring in the backcountry, scaling rock and waterfalls, to hiking on snow and dirt trails, our guides are proud to have introduced hundreds of guests to the outdoors and shown many more what is possible when pushing their limits in the mountains. Here's a few of the highlights of our 2016 in review.   A strong start The 2015/16 season began with a bang (ok, not quite as good as this season but still pretty good) setting up ideal snowp...

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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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Top 5 Ski Traverses Around Whistler

Tue, 29th Mar 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
ski traverses around Whistler

With some long spring days ahead in April and May it's prime time for longer ski traverses. For those not familiar, a ski traverse is when a group travels from one destination to another through mountains on skis. A traverse can be done quickly in a day or take several days or even weeks with the associated winter camping equipment and food supplies. While the main goal is to travel from point A to point B, pursuing vertical objectives is still very much possible depending on the party, snow conditions and time allowed. Think you're ready for the next level backcountry experience? Grab a copy of Exploring the Coast Mountains on Skis by John Baldwin (available in Whistle...

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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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Spearhead Traverse – Whistler’s backcountry rite of passage

Thu, 18th Feb 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
Spearhead Traverse Whistler

In the world's most popular ski destinations there's a classic, multi-day backcountry trip considered a rite of passage by the local ski touring community. In the Alps it's the Haute Route from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland. In the Canadian Rockies it's the hut-to-hut journey through the Wapta Icefields. In Whistler, it's the Spearhead Traverse. While it may be one of the most well-travelled backcountry areas in North America, only a small percentage of touring travellers actually head out with the goal of completing the entire Spearhead Traverse. Starting from the glacier boundary gate on Blackcomb Mountain, the route encompasses 13 glaciers (all over 2,000...

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The new face of Whistler Alpine Guides – MSAA

Thu, 17th Dec 2015  /  By Vince Shuley

Locals to Whistler and the Sea to Sky Corridor may have noticed that the Whistler Alpine Guides Bureau – a staple of the Whistler guiding community for many years – is now branded under the Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures (MSAA) family. The move came from MSAA owner and lead guide Eric Dumerac after he worked extensively in the European Alps and the Canadian Rockies and wanted to grow his business towards the Coast Mountains. I sat down with Eric recently for an interview about where he has come from and where he wants to take MSAA in the future. Then and now Vince: Why the move to the Coast and why did you choose to purchase Whistler Alpine Guides? Er...

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Backcountry Skiing Freeride Tours on Decker Mountain

Sat, 12th Dec 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Backcountry Skiing Whistler

Photos by Vince Shuley It's been snowing hard all week here in Whistler with 150cm falling in the last seven days. Freezing levels are settling down with more of the white stuff on the way this week. Hopefully you got a chance to make it up here, but if you missed this storm, fret not. When the resort turns to moguls and hardpack groomers, powder can be found in the world class Whistler backcountry. Commonly labelled “slackcountry” or “side-country,” backcountry skiing areas adjacent to resort boundaries areas have little or no avalanche control and therefore require skills, equipment and guidance to ski them safely. That means taking an avalanche course an...

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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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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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Squamish Via Ferrata – Video

Wed, 15th Jul 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Squamish Via Ferrata Sky Pilot

Since our launch of our Squamish Via Ferrata Tour last month, more and more people are hearing about this easy and accessible climbing experience  just steps from the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola. Recent rain has cleared the sky of smoke from wildfires in the region, allowing pristine views of Howe Sound and the Tantalus Mountain Range once again. Our guides have been leading groups of all ages with children as young as eight years old to enjoy this unique and exhilarating experience. Here is the Squamish Via Ferrata Tour Video that shows what you can expect from the Squamish Via Ferrata Tour! https://vimeo.com/133526545 Beginning with a guided hike throug...

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Early Summer Condition Report! Via Ferrata’s & Glacier Discovery Tours

Fri, 3rd Jul 2015  /  By Dan O'Keefe
Summer Condition Report 2015

It has been a really exciting start to summer 2015, here at Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures HQ. With our new branding, website and also our new Via Ferrata in Squamish - things are shaping up to be very busy this season! For those visiting (or even for those of us who are lucky enough to live here!) the Squamish and Whistler area this summer, we have plenty of unique adventures and experiences for all ages and abilities! We caught up with some of our Mountain Top Guides, to get the 'hot off the press' updates in our early Summer Condition Report 2015. The Whistler Glacier is in perfect condition for ascending and glissading with a nice approach, on o...

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