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Best Fall Hikes in the Sea to Sky

Sun, 9th Sep 2018  /  By Vince Shuley
whistler hiking fall

Summer in British Columbia is always over too soon, but that doesn't mean we can't make the most of the transition season before winter arrives. The fall can be bittersweet; lake dipping temperatures are gone, replaced by toques and puffy jackets. Sunsets hide behind cloud cover before heading to bed early. Crowds thin out to a trickle as school resumes. While weather can be cold and sometimes wet, beautiful bug-free sunny days do make an appearance. So with that in mind, gear up for hiking this month and hit the trails. Here are a few of our favourite fall hikes in Whistler, Squamish and the Sea to Sky Corridor. For more information on our guided hikes, head over to o...

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5 Reasons to try Via Ferrata

Sat, 28th Jul 2018  /  By Vince Shuley
via ferrata

Updated: 7/28/2018: Click here for all of our rock climbing activities: Summer has been poking her head out quite a bit recently in British Columbia, which means that hiking and climbing season is not far away. But have you ever considered a hybrid version of these two alpine activities? Via Ferrata, a form of vertical climbing assisted by metal rungs embedded in the rock, blends the two experiences seamlessly. Begin by hiking in the fresh alpine air. Clip your harness into the cable safety system. Ascend a steep rock face with the ease of climbing a ladder. Soak up the views of the surrounding mountainous terrain. At Mountain Skills Academy we are positive that you...

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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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Best Rock Climbing Spots in Vancouver and Sea to Sky

Fri, 13th Jul 2018  /  By Vince Shuley
Rock climbing spots in Vancouver Sea to Sky

With climbing season in full swing, there's no better time to start checking off routes on your rock climbing To-Do list. And as much as we're fans of frequenting our local stomping grounds here at Mountain Skills Academy, we like to switch up our spots for a change of scenery every now and then. We'll be taking a look at some great road trip options across B.C. and the Rockies in the next couple of weeks, until then, let's warm up on some climbs closer to home. Here's the best rock climbing spots in Vancouver and Sea to Sky region. Don't forget to check out our rock climbing activities in Whistler & Squamish [caption id="attachment_3240" align="alignnone" width="43...

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Canada Day Long Weekend Sale! 50% Off

Wed, 27th Jun 2018  /  By Joelle
Whistler Sky Walk

For the Canada Day Sale this long weekend we are offering 50% off on 2 tours! Celebrate the grand opening of our newest tour called the Whistler Sky Walk. The Sky Walk is a hike up to and along the edge of Whistler Mountain overlooking amazing mountain and valley views. You clip into a cable to safely cross small suspended bridges and cliff-edge features. This is a stunning guided 2-3 hour hike that is great for wide range of ages and abilities. [caption id="attachment_4687" align="alignnone" width="300"] Family climbing the via ferrata in Squamish[/caption] Enjoy 50% off the Squamish Via Ferrata tour at the Sea to Sky Gondola too. The sun is out and summer i...

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Rock Climbing 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Fri, 8th Jun 2018  /  By Vince Shuley
Rock Climbing Course

The Coast Mountains and Rockies have some of the best rock climbing in the world. For that reason alone it's worth trying your hand at this truly exhilarating sport. But for those who've never attempted to scale a wall - whether at a gym or at an outdoor climbing centre - the prospect of hanging off elevated hand holds and foot holds can be a little intimidating. Yet even the most experienced rock climbers all had to start somewhere. In this Rock Climbing 101 guide, we’ll hopefully dispel some of the perceived barriers to the sport and show that with a bit of perseverance, anyone can do it. [caption id="attachment_5187" align="alignnone" width="710"] Rock cl...

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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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A Day in the Life of a Backcountry Ski Guide

Sat, 20th Jan 2018  /  By Vince Shuley
backcountry ski guide Whistler Rockies

The day in the life of a backcountry ski guide might seem like it’s all sunshine and powder turns, but the truth is that it’s a lot more work than that. These men and women rise early, stay late and are always surveying the landscape for potential hazards and safety concerns. It takes quite a few years to achieve accredited guide status with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) when you add up all the courses, exams, practicums, trips and filling out of log books. Then there’s all the work that goes into a single day trip; hauling heavy packs with everything inside from ropes to a sizable first aid kit, planning routes with multiple alternatives, analy...

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Sky Pilot: A Hiker’s Mountaineering Trip

Wed, 23rd Aug 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
sky pilot squamish mountaineering Mountain Skills Academy

There comes a time when an experienced hiker will look for the next challenge. That may entail hiking further from civilization, gaining higher summits or tackling more technical routes. But for those who want to take the next step in vertical, the slow and steady transition towards mountaineering doesn't have to necessarily involve high altitude climbing or risky routes. Sky Pilot (2031m), a peak accessed from the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, is the perfect introduction to "mountaineering lite" in the Vancouver/Sea to Sky region. [caption id="attachment_4478" align="alignnone" width="710"] The best way to by pass an arduous approach and knee-breaking descent[/capti...

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MSAA to partner with Whistler Hiatus as official guiding bureau

Mon, 26th Jun 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
hiking Whistler hiatus

Whistler and the surrounding Sea to Sky Corridor is one of the most beautiful areas to hike in Canada. Through a new partnership, Whistler Hiatus and Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures (MSAA) are here to help you get the most out of your summer hiking season. Trails permeate these valleys in all directions, from low-lying forested walks to all-day and multi-day expeditions into alpine elevations. There are natural attractions such as waterfalls, lakes and old growth trees that date back over a thousand years. There are man-made attractions too, like suspension bridges over gushing rivers, abandoned logging camps and even the remnants of a decades-old train derail...

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Glissading: A Different Kind of Snow Sliding

Fri, 26th May 2017  /  By Vince Shuley

With the recent spike of warm weather on the Coast it's the perfect condition to cool off by walking on an ancient glacier. And just in time, our Whistler Mountaintop Tours are now open for the 2017 summer! We've waxed poetic about the Glacier Walk experience before, but after the high alpine snow levels in the early summer 2016 we noticed a particular offshoot activity gaining popularity on our Whistler Mountaintop via ferrata and glacier tours: glissading. [caption id="attachment_4124" align="aligncenter" width="550"] Roped up and ready for ascent.[/caption] According to the the knowledge bank Wikipedia, glissading is described as " the act of descending a steep s...

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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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The Weekender’s Guide to the Whistler Backcountry

Mon, 12th Dec 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
Whistler backcountry in 48 hours

When the weekend comes around and the weather looks good, there's no better place to spend your time than in the Whistler backcountry. Escaping the crowds and noise of the ski resort - if only for a few hours - gives the classic ski weekend a whole new meaning. You can spend the day ski touring in peaceful tranquility, then spend the evening celebrating the nightlife and resting in comfortable accommodations. To make sure you get the most out of your 48 hours in Whistler, here's our weekender's guide to the Whistler Backcountry. Note: Before embarking on your weekend in the backcountry, make sure to check the Avalanche Bulletin for the Sea to Sky Region and the Whistler...

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Spearhead Huts: 5 Reasons We Love the Project

Sat, 22nd Oct 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
Spearhead Huts ski touring

If you're a frequent visitor to the Whistler backcountry, or any backcountry skiing area in British Columbia for that matter, you've probably heard about the Spearhead Huts Project. For those not familiar, the Spearhead Traverse is a horseshoe-shaped 35km route over 13 glaciers in Garibaldi Provincial Park adjacent to Whistler Blackcomb. The only structure that currently exists on the traverse is the Himmelsbach Hut on the edge of Russet Lake, built in the '60s and in dire need of replacement. The Spearhead Huts Project (which has its annual Soiree fundraiser on November 22 in North Vancouver) not only aims to build a new backcountry hut at the Russet Lake site, but wi...

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5 Reasons to go Fall Hiking in Whistler

Tue, 20th Sep 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
Glacier walk

Updated: 7/16/2018 Don't forget to visit our Whistler hiking page for our guided hikes. The unmistakable scent of fall is in the air here in Whistler. Leaves are falling, grassy fields turn white with morning frost and bears are coming out to top up their bellies. Winter may be on its way, but there's still plenty of outdoor adventure to be had between now and when the snow flies. One activity that's by far the most accessible to the most people is fall hiking. July and August are the months when Canadians are the most likely to get outside, and  while summer may get all the glitz and glamour, the best season for hiking is actually during September and early Octo...

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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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An Alternative Peak Experience with Whistler Via Ferrata

Thu, 9th Jun 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
whistler via ferrata

Sightseeing is officially open on Whistler Mountain. Plenty of people heading up to the alpine to ride the Peak 2 Peak gondola and witness winter's melting snow blanket. The white stuff is still very much present this time of year, as evidenced by the towering snow walls near Whistler Peak. The Peak Chair and the surrounding hiking trails were yet to open, but there's a more exciting way to the reach the top - the Whistler Via Ferrata. If you're unfamiliar with the via ferrata experience, check out these 5 reasons why you should go. [caption id="attachment_3153" align="alignnone" width="710"] A short break for water walking over the sun baked glacier[/caption] Taking...

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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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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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Ski Mountaineering at Jim Haberl Hut, Tantalus Range

Tue, 2nd Feb 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
Jim Haberl Hut Tantalus

Once every season or two, backcountry skiers and snowboarders develop an appetite for a special kind of trip. It may involve travelling half way across the world or simply finding a yet to be discovered corner of our own backyard, but more often than not it involves spending a few nights at a secluded location. One of our favourite such locations is the Jim Haberl Hut, a comfortable backcountry refuge nestled in the heart of the Tantalus Range. A quick helicopter flight from Squamish Airport, Jim Haberl Hut was built 10 years ago in memory of climber Jim Haberl, one of the two Canadians to first summit K2. Haberl died while attempting Alaska's Ultima Thule in 1999. Th...

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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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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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Top 5 spots for early season skiing in Whistler

Thu, 5th Nov 2015  /  By Vince Shuley
Skiing Tenquille Lake BC

There's snow on the mountains. There's snow in the forecast. And Whistler Blackcomb isn't officially opening for another three weeks. So how are you possibly going to get through this period without doing some turns? Early season skiing means we have to: Go hiking That's right. The original lift system consisted of a your own two legs. So if you want to go early season skiing or riding before the lifts turn, get ready to hoof it. Backcountry travellers are already used to this and know what to pack; food, water, avalanche safety gear (plus the skills and knowledge to use it) and enough warm clothing in case the weather takes a turn for the worst. Now before you grab ...

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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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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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Blackcomb Buttress – A Chamonix-Like Experience In Canada

Fri, 26th Jun 2015  /  By Dan O'Keefe
Climbing Blackcomb Buttress

I can always count on two things when I guide Blackcomb Buttress; happy guests and me saying, "Man I love my job”! It brings me back to my Cham’ days where I guided for many summers. Why is it a Chamonix like experience? It’s all about ease of access, quality granite and quality climbing. First off you kill an otherwise grueling approach and knee wrecker descent by taking the Whistler Blackcomb lifts and alpine shuttle bus, something I never take for granted! Next comes a beautiful approach through rolling alpine meadows. The pristine ever clear emerald waters of the little tarn reflect Blackcomb Peak, looming above. A curious Hoary Marmot stands up on it’s roc...

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Via Ferrata Coming Soon!

Fri, 15th May 2015  /  By Dan O'Keefe
Via Ferrata Coming Soon

Via Ferrata Coming Soon! An exciting and unique climbing experience Be one of the first to experience the Sea To Sky corridors newest and most exciting climbing adventure! Via Ferrata, Italian for "Iron Way" is an engineered vertical adventure, assisted by metal rungs and a specialized cable system. This exciting trip is suitable for children and families alike, and is a fully guided experience. With awe-inspiring views of the stunning Howe Sound, and the nearby peaks, this is sure to be an adventure you won’t soon forget. You begin with your guide, hiking down from the Summit Lodge, becoming immersed amongst beautiful old growth forest. After this short hik...

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