A deep dive into the world of Ski Mountaineering
Backcountry 3.0 is a day-long, in-depth introduction to ski mountaineering principles, techniques and skills. This backcountry course is designed for backcountry skiers and splitboarders who are interested in exploring steeper, higher and more exposed lines.
Ski mountaineering is the next step for backcountry enthusiasts who are looking to get farther out from the trailhead, while having the tool kit to tackle steeper slopes. This course is the third act in our three-part Intro to Backcountry series. Please see Backcountry 1.0 and Backcountry 2.0 for descriptions of the previous courses.
Meet Your Guide
Meet your guide and get an overview of the day. You’ll most likely be meeting your guide at a trailhead designated in advance. You’ll spend the first few minutes of the morning reviewing gear, and making a plan with goals and objectives for the day.
- 8:30 – 12pm
Morning Skills Session
Starting with the basics, we gradually add new skills and techniques to the table. Some tools you’ll be introduced to are harness and belay device, ski crampons, ropes, boot crampons and ice axes.
- 12 – 12:30pm
In between the morning and afternoon sessions, we’ll take a break for some much needed calories.This is a great moment to reflect on the lessons from the morning, and pick your guide’s brain about topics that you want to learn more about.
- 12:30 – 4pm
Afternoon Skills Session
Building on the skills of the morning, we will enter demanding terrain and get some hands-on practice.
A digital transceiver that is simple to use or that you are extremely comfortable using.
Recommended: Black Diamond Recon Avalanche X Beacon
Many options are available, and are often comparable. Most important is to ensure your skins are trimmed properly for the ski you will be touring with. Skins with a secure tail clip are preferred.
Recommended for Skis: Black Diamond Glidelite Mix STS Climbing Skins
Recommended for Splitboards: Black Diamond Glidelite Mix Splitboard Climbing Skins
These gloves keep the inside of your mitts or other gloves from accumulating sweat on the inside and turning inside out when you take them off, as well as provide additional insulation.
Recommended: Black Diamond Lightweight Wooltech Gloves
A strong, lightweight avalanche probe, 260-300cm.
Recommended: Black Diamond QuickDraw Pro Probe 280
A lightweight metal avalanche rescue shovel. Extendable handle is recommended.
Recommended: Black Diamond Evac 7
While ski crampons are strongly recommended on our domestic backcountry ski programs, they are required on all of our International Ski Expeditions. These are typically used on early spring days when the snow is often icy on the way up before the conditions transition. Many bindings accept a compatible crampon made by the manufacturer.
Recommended: Black Diamond ATK Ski Crampons
A ski specific helmet that is less than 10 years old.
Recommended: Scott Track Plus Helmet
Ski Touring Bindings
Alpine Touring bindings are designed to allow up-hill travel and down-hill descent. We recommend a lightweight binding with heel risers to assist on steeper terrain.
Recommended: Black Diamond ATK Crest 10 Touring Bindings
Ski Touring Boots
These need to be a touring specific boot with walk mode, and a rubber sole. Typically sized a bit larger than your regular alpine boot, and light weight is a huge plus. Be sure to try many pairs on to find the right fit; it can make or break a day in the mountains!
Internal frame pack that is between 25 and 35 liters. Either purchase a matching pack cover, or use garbage bags as liners to protect from precipitation. Make sure the pack is fitted to YOUR body.
Recommended: Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32L
While the technical equipment needed for a specific objective and season varies, this basic kit is a great baseline. Your guide will bring gear for you to use during your course, but participants are encouraged to bring some or all of this if you own it or are interested in purchasing it.
1 Cordalette (6mm x 5m/16.4′)
4 locking carabiners
2 non-locking carabiners
1 double-length Dyneema sling
Small prusik loop (6mm x 112cm/44″)
Auto-blocking belay device (eg. ATC guide)
Micro Traxion or similar
A simple, lightweight synthetic jacket. This item is good for layering systems to stay warm in cold, wet conditions.
Recommended: Black Diamond First Light Stretch Hoodie
While splitboard crampons are strongly recommended on our domestic backcountry splitboard programs, they are required on all of our International Splitboard Expeditions. These are typically used on early spring days when the snow is often icy on the way up before the conditions transition. Many bindings accept a compatible crampon made by the manufacturer.
Recommended: Spark R&D Ibex ST Splitboard Crampons
A splitboard that you are comfortable riding in a variety of conditions.
Recommended: Jones Solution Splitboard
The same boots you wear at the resort are great for your splitboard. Be sure they’re comfortable, backcountry touring means long days in your boots!
Recommended: Burton Tourist Snowboard Boots
Skis w/ Touring Bindings
A lightweight touring ski with touring bindings. Our guides suggest something between 95mm and 110mm underfoot. Keep in mind that extremely lightweight boards are great on the uphill, but can prove challenging in variable conditions.
Recommended Skis: Black Diamond Helio Carbon 95 Skis
Recommended Bindings: Black Diamond ATK Crest 10 Bindings
The most memorable experiences on skis
“My Backcountry 1.0 ski trip with Alpenglow was the best decision I made before attempting to ski in the backcountry. My guide, instructor Ben W, not only gave me the most memorable experiences on skis but he also educated me on the importance of safety and the fundamentals of skiing in the backcountry. His professional certifications, avalanche training, and personalized instruction assured me that I was learning from a qualified and professional instructor. I learned new skills, hiked on my skis, had some awesome descents and enjoyed the beautiful views of Lake Tahoe. Although trying new skills can feel challenging and overwhelming, Ben was always patient and happy to answer any questions and guide me throughout the day. He always reinforced the importance of having fun and returning back safely to enjoy another day of skiing. I am excited to go to the next level with Alpenglow’s Backcountry 2.0 class and a basic avalanche safety class.
Thank you Ben and the staff of Alpenglow!”