Intro to Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding: Rockies AB
Banff / Canmore

Intro to Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding

Backcountry Skiing Western Canada


  • Cost:
  • $305

Location: Canmore and Banff, Canadian Rockies   Duration: 2 Days   Fitness: Good   Ability: Beginner   Prerequisites: None   Course Code: IBCKSKIBanCan

This course is designed to serve as an excellent introduction to backcountry skiing and snowboarding. No backcountry experience is required. However, you should be an intermediate skier/rider (you should be confident skiing blue runs at ski resort).

Join us for these winter country courses held in the Banff / Canmore area of the Canadian Rockies!

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The following dates are available for this course.

We will post up more public dates if there is demand, so please let us know what dates work better for you.

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Course Information

This course is designed to serve as an excellent introduction to backcountry skiing/snowboarding. No backcountry experience is required however you should be an intermediate skier/rider (you should be confident skiing blue runs at the resort).

This course is for beginner backcountry skiers looking to develop the basic skills to backcountry ski or ride safely. We strongly recommend you take this course in conjunction with our AST 1 course specifically designed to meet then needs of Skiers and Riders. Learn from some of the best trained ski guides and avalanche experts in the world!

Among the many skills taught, students will learn avalanche rescue, terrain analysis, track setting, uphill and downhill skiing technique, route finding, tree skiing and trip planning.

Based out of Canmore/Banff, we spend two days skiing in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Field locations include Kananaskis Country, the Kootenays and the Icefields Parkway. There is no better place in the world to learn backcountry skiing than Canada – easy access, excellent and dependable snow, skiing in the trees, in the alpine and on the glaciers as well as incredible ski mountaineering.

A good follow-up from this course would be the AST 2.

Day 1

  • 08:00 Meet at GearUp Sports rentals, Bow Valley Trail, Canmore
  • Equipment fitting.
  • Morning Meeting: Sign waivers, introductions, course goals, safety discussion and gear check.
  • Lesson 1: Using the weather and avalanche forecast, ATES scale and local guidebook for trip planning.
  • Drive to backcountry ski-touring location.

In the field:

  • Lesson 2: Backcountry skiing/snowboarding equipment
  • Lesson 3: Companion Rescue review and practice
  • Lesson 4: Route planning, up-track setting and situational awareness in class 1 (simple) and 2 (challenging) terrain.
  • Lesson 5: Avalanche awareness, snowpack tests.
  • Lesson 6: Downhill run plan, hazard evaluation, terrain consideration, downhill powder technique.
  • 16:00 drive back to Canmore
  • 17:30 Evening Meeting: debrief the day. Trip plan for day 2.

Day 2

  • 07:00 meeting @ Rocky Mountain Bagel Co., Bow Valley Trail, Canmore
  • Morning Meeting: Review current weather and conditions. Day plan, equipment check.
  • Drive to backcountry ski location.

In the field:

  • Lesson 7: Situational awareness, route finding, track setting refinement in class 2 (challenging) or class 3 (complex) terrain.
  • Review: Avalanche observation, snowpack tests, weather and snowpack recording.
  • Lesson 8: Downhill technique refinement
  • Lesson 9: Emergency Response
  • Throughout the day ongoing feedback, problem solving and mentoring from your guide.
  • 16:00 drive back to Canmore
  • 17:30 Meet at GearUp sports: equipment return, debrief the day. Next steps and course wrap up.

We are happy to help source any gear you need for your course

Avalanche Safety Kit is included (transceiver, shovel, probe)


Field Day: Dress appropriately for the conditions.

  • Down or synthetic “puffy” insulated jacket
  • Insulating top and bottom under layers and socks
  • Mid layer fleece top
  • Weatherproof shell jacket and pants
  • Warm hat and balaclava
  • 2 pairs of gloves, mittens (optional)
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen.


  • Backpack-25-35 Litres
  • Touring skis / splitboard and skins
  • Ski / snowboard boots
  • Poles
  • Helmet
  • Write in the rain book and mechanical pencil (optional)
  • First Aid Kit with blister kit
  • Map, compass, GPS (all optional)
  • Feel free to bring your own Avalanche Safety Kit if you have it
  • *Lunch, snacks, and water
  • *Thermos (optional)

If you wish to purchase your own Avalanche Safety Kit we can arrange this through our partnership with Backcountry Access for $340 with the purchase of your course.

Learn from a professional ski guide the techniques and wisdom of backcountry travel

Throughout the two day Intro to Backcountry course you will be led by a professional guide and will be taught important aspects of winter travel in the backcountry.

This course is the perfect choice for a resort skier or snowboarder wanting to quickly and safely transition to backcountry riding.

  • Avalanche rescue
  • Terrain analysis
  • Track setting
  • Uphill and downhill skiing technique
  • Route finding
  • Tree skiing
  • Trip planning
  • We recommend our AST 1 course as prerequisite.

Transport to Field Locations

Participants in this course will meet their guide at an agreed time and location, usually a local cafe, in Canmore on the morning of the first day. From there you will be expected to have private transport to get to the course location. If you don’t have private transport we can arrange transport with the guide for $20 per day.

Accommodation in Canmore

Accommodation is not included in the course price however we offer significantly discounted pricing arrangements through a selection of local providers ranging from hostel dorm beds to hotel suites.

If you require accommodation in Canmore for the length of your course please let us know when you register and we can make the arrangements. Often course participants split the cost of a room and are able to enjoy the amenity of a full service hotel at the price of a hostel dorm bed.

Food for Backcountry Field Days

Please make sure you pack plenty of high energy food and snacks as well as fluids to keep you at your best all day long. There are plenty of restaurants and supermarkets in Canmore, and if you completely forget we start the day at a local coffee shop so you’ll be able to grab something for lunch from there. A thermos of tea or coffee is also a great idea.

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Important Information

We strongly recommend you purchase Trip Cancellation Insurance upon booking and Emergency Evacuation insurance.

Emergency Evacuation and Medical

This coverage provides you with emergency air rescue if required and full medical. Parks Canada provides free evacuation within the Parks and if you are a Canadian resident your medical will be covered by National Health.

We strongly recommend international visitors purchase this insurance. Emergency evacuation insurance is also compulsory for all our hut trips, as these typically take place outside of Parks Canada’s jurisdiction.

Trip Cancellation Insurance

To prepare for unforeseen circumstances we strongly recommend purchasing Trip Cancellation Insurance at the time of booking your trip. Trip Cancellation insurance covers many scenarios to reimburse you for cancelled trips outside of your control.

Our recommended insurance provider is Tugo.Com who can be reached via the following:

All course prices are quoted in Canadian Dollars and are exclusive of a 5% Federal GST. Prices are subject to change.

Full payment is required at time of registration. Our preferred method of payment is by Mastercard or VISA through our online payment portal. We also accept Credit Card payment over the phone, bank transfer and cash.

Mountain Skills Academy takes mountain safety very seriously, however there is no way to completely mitigate risk in alpine environments. Prior to undertaking any of our courses or trips we require you to sign a waiver.

Mountain conditions are extremely unpredictable and can change at short notice. Our guides endeavor to undertake the routes and/or peaks that our clients desire, however our decisions will be impacted by conditions. Unfortunately we are not able to offer refunds if conditions are not suitable to undertake a particular route on the day you have booked. We will however make every effort to take you out for the best day possible given the conditions.

Applicable to all tours and courses*: If conditions force us to cancel a course or trip we will do all we can to accommodate you at another date. If this isn’t possible we will offer a full refund. We reserve the right to decline rescheduling dates based on availability. *Does not apply to First Aid and WFR courses.

Adventures Cancellation Policy

Half Day and Full Day Programs

  • Within 24 hours: Cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition, no reschedule.
  • Outside of 24 hours: $25 rescheduling fee per booking or full refund.
Multi Day Programs
  • 2 Day Programs: Within 10 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition, Outside of 10 days: $25 penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.
  • 3+ Day Programs: 30 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition, Outside of 30 days: $75 penalty to reschedule or full refund.
  • Customized Trips: 30 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition, Outside of 30 days: $75penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.

**On all multi day trips pre arranged add-ons are non-refundable (food, accommodation, etc).

Courses Cancellation Policy

1-2 Day Courses

  • Within 10 days: Cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition
  • Outside of 10 days: $75 penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.

3+ Day Courses

  • Within 30 days: Cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition
  • Outside of 30 days: $75 penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.

**If you are able to find someone else to take your place on a course, please let us know as we are more than happy to transfer bookings.

Minors (under the age of 18 for our courses based in Alberta and 19 for those based in BC) and custodial groups (youths affiliated with an institution where the parents/legal guardian are not present on the trip) may register for certain trips and courses with a letter of consent from parents or legal guardian as well as must sign a waiver and have their parents or legal guardian sign a waiver. Further, we abide by the Parks Canada Custodial Group winter backcountry policy as outlined here.


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