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Enjoying the Outdoors During Extreme Fire Danger

Friday, 21st July 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
Outdoors hiking camping Fire danger

You’ve probably been hearing about wildfires sweeping through British Columbia this month. According to BC Wildfire, as of today (July 20, 2017) a total of 152 wildfires are currently burning across the province. Emergency services have responded to 688 fires since April 1, which have burned an estimated 405,000 hectares of land. The cost to control these blazes has run up to $111.9 million, which doesn’t include any of the costs to the province for dealing with the fallout such as housing the approximately 42,000 ...

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5 Ways to Celebrate Canada 150 in the Outdoors

Friday, 30th June 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
Canada 150 Whistler Rockies

Well Canada, you certainly are looking good for 150 years old. Canada Day this Saturday (July 1) marks Great White North’s sesquicentennial and what better way to celebrate than getting outside? Summertime is made for outdoor moments, whether on the water, on the trails or just soaking up the natural beauty. In case you haven’t planned your Canada 150 long weekend yet, here are a few outdoor activities to celebrate your inner Canuckness. Hiking Walking among the forests of mountains of Canada is an excellent ...

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MSAA to partner with Whistler Hiatus as official guiding bureau

Monday, 26th June 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 ...

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Choosing the Right Rock Climbing Harness

Monday, 12th June 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
rock climbing harness

One of the key pieces of rock climbing kit is the harness. It’s a crucial link in the belay lifeline, wrapping our waists and thighs with padded webbing that catches us and helps catch our climbing partners in the event of a fall. The climbing harness experiences relatively low wear and tear (at least in most climbing situations), meaning the harness you choose will likely remain in your kit for a few years. To help you make that first important choice, Mountain Skills Academy & ...

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Glissading: A Different Kind of Snow Sliding

Friday, 26th May 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
Glacier Glissading in Whistler, BC.

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. According to the the knowledge bank Wikipedia, glissading ...

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The Risks and Rewards of Lead Climbing

Tuesday, 23rd May 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
lead climbing rock

Climbing can be incredibly fulfilling. Ascending a near-vertical face of rock with a bag of chalk and a pair of sticky-rubber shoes lends a feeling of accomplishment felt in few other outdoor pursuits. Previously we’ve shared MSAA’s Beginner’s Guide to Rock Climbing about the perceived barriers of entry to the sport and how to overcome them. If you are now climbing comfortably on some more difficult routes, have had some experience setting up a safe top rope system and are looking for a new challenge, ...

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Squamish Via Ferrata OPEN + Summer Special Offers

Wednesday, 10th May 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
Squamish Via Ferrata open

After a very fruitful winter of snowshoeing, ice climbing and backcountry skiing and riding, summer is finally beginning to rear its beautiful face. And that means summer adventures are right around the corner! With the warmer weather in the Sea to Sky recently, our Squamish rock climbing courses and adventures are already in motion in the lower parts of the valley. But our beloved Squamish Via Ferrata course is situated around the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola, which meant there was a bit more snow ...

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Cornice Hazards: What you need to know

Monday, 24th April 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
cornice hazards

One of the recurring themes in British Columbian backcountry advisories this season is cornices. These aesthetic but often hazardous snow structures are formed by wind drifting snow onto the downwind side of an obstacle, such as a ridgeline or precipice. Their size can range from windlips a few feet high to the size of small houses, sometimes even larger. Cornices present a hazard for a few reasons; they can be hard to identify from the top of a ridge, they can be very sensitive to ...

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Getting the Most Out of Spring Mountain Multi-sport

Wednesday, 29th March 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
spring multi-sport

The rapid approach of spring in a mountain town is a strange dichotomy. On one hand, people are ready for warmth and a return to their favourite lakes and trails after a long Canadian winter. On the other, vehement skiers and snowboarders keep basking in the lingering winter conditions such as we’ve seen in British Columbia this year. But the best thing about spring? The opportunity to multi-sport. Ski, climb, run, hike, bike… even swim if you’re feeling brave enough. With daylight stretching longer with ...

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Introduction to Crevasse Rescue Part 1 – The Gear

Wednesday, 22nd March 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
crevasse rescue gear

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. By mid-winter (depending on the season ...

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Ice climbing with MSAA featured on FlightNetwork

Monday, 20th March 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
Intro To Ice Climbing Canadian Rockies

The 2016/17 winter has been an amazing season for ice climbing. Consistently cold temperatures lingered in December and early January, freezing many of the waterfall features in the Sea to Sky and opening up a few routes that had not seen the swing of an axe in quite a few years. For MSAA, this has meant many more ice climbing trips going out at all levels, from kids and families safely trying it out on top rope belay to clients looking to achieve their own first ascent. ...

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8 Benefits of Hiring a Backcountry Ski Guide

Tuesday, 21st February 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 ...

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VIDEO: Tuning for backcountry skiing and riding

Thursday, 9th February 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
tuning for backcountry skiing

An essential part of the backcountry skiing and riding routine – one that people often neglect – is tuning. Backcountry skis and splitboards spend a lot of their time skiing the best snow in powder conditions, so why would you head out with gear that’s in substandard shape? Well-tuned equipment comes with some healthy benefits when ski touring and splitboarding, but most of all, it just feels nicer when making turns. Especially in the fresh powder snow that we’re all seeking in the backcountry. To explain the best methods and choices for ...

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Making Sense of the January 11 Viral Avalanche Video

Friday, 13th January 2017  /  By Vince Shuley

By now you’ve probably seen the viral avalanche video of Australian Tom Oye’s avalanche in Chocolate Bowl in the Brandywine area south of Whistler on January 11. The video not only received tens of thousands shares and millions of views, but also made news headlines on Australian television. It serves as a stark reminder that avalanches can occur when the danger rating is forecasted at the “Moderate” level. There’s a lot of questions left unanswered on why this avalanche occurred, so Mountain Skills Academy & ...

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Iron, Rock, Snow and Ice – 2016 in Review

Thursday, 22nd December 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 ...

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The Weekender’s Guide to the Whistler Backcountry

Monday, 12th December 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, ...

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Whistler Blackcomb Opening Day 2016 in Pictures

Thursday, 24th November 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
opening day 2016

Opening Day 2016 – the gates have officially parted. Whistler Blackcomb fired up its lifts on Whistler Mountain this morning to the delight of thousands of shred-ready skiers and snowboarders. Some participated in the The North Face’s overnight basecamp event in Skier’s Plaza, others rose early and stumbled into line before the sun came up. With 26cms of snow overnight, the early birds were rewarded with more than a few face shots. Despite the great snow for opening day and more in the forecast, conditions are still very much early ...

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Spearhead Huts: 5 Reasons We Love the Project

Saturday, 22nd October 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 ...

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5 Reasons to go Fall Hiking in Whistler

Tuesday, 20th September 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
Glacier walk

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 ...

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Level Up with a Rock Climbing Course

Saturday, 20th August 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 ...

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