Backcountry Education: What’s the next step?
Whether it’s your first year in the skin track or your fifth, now is the time to plan to get backcountry educated! We get a lot of questions from backcountry travelers wondering what the next step is, so we created this basic road map. From whichever stage you are starting from, use this reference to figure out how to progress your personal backcountry education.
Advanced Resort Skiers/Beginner Backcountry Skiers & Riders
Step Zero: Advanced Ski/Riding Skills
Be able to ski black diamond runs and off-piste at the ski resort. You don’t have to jump off cliffs or anything, but you do need to be able to maneuver around complex unmarked obstacles in the backcountry. Don’t start thinking about heading into the backcountry until you are an advanced skier or rider.
Step 1: Try Backcountry Skiing or Riding for the First Time
Sign up for Backcountry 1.0 (single day) or take a 2.5 day Women’s Intro to Backcountry Clinic. We recommend renting gear to try it out for the first couple of times. We have rental packages with beacon, shovel, probe, Blizzard touring skis, Tecnica touring boots, or Jones snowboards available in our office.
Intermediate Backcountry Skiers/Riders
Step 2: Gain More Experience in the Backcountry with the guidance of a backcountry professional
Step 3: Avalanche safety and backcountry travel 101, 3-days
Now it’s time to enroll in a 3-day AIARE 1 course. There are technically no pre-requisites for AIARE 1, but we do recommend having a few days of backcountry experience before you take the class. You’ll get so much more out of the course if you have basic touring skills already! In class, you will develop a good foundation on how to prepare for and carry out a backcountry trip, understand basic decision making while in the field, and learn avalanche rescue techniques.
Step 4: Go back to Step 2 and Gain Even More Experience in the backcountry
Enroll in any of the following: Backcountry 2.0, Private Ski Guiding, or a Squaw Valley Backcountry Tour. You can also choose to go on independent ski tours with partners who are knowledgeable about backcountry safety.
Step 5: Practice Companion Rescue
Next Step: AIARE Rescue. This day is ultra-important, it’s a dedicated 8-hr course to sharpen up your companion rescue skills. Build up the muscle memory for how to react if the worst happens and you or your partners are involved in an avalanche. Worth taking as a refresher every season!
Step 6: Back to Step 2 again: Gain more experience
Advanced Backcountry Skiers/Riders
Step 7: Rack up some ski touring miles with a pro
Step 8: Become an independent backcountry leader
You are finally ready for AIARE 2! This is a course for advanced recreational students who are looking to advance their decision-making skills in more complex terrain and situations. You should have 2+ solid seasons of experience before thinking about taking this course.
Step 9: Join an Advanced Tour
International Ski Mountaineering
Step 10: The World is your Oyster!
Now that you’ve built up a solid base of backcountry skills, you have the tools to start exploring ski mountaineering around the globe. Here’s a couple of the international ski descents we offer: Ecuador: Ring of Fire Ski Expedition, Chile: Backcountry Ski Adventure, Himalaya: Cho Oyu Ski Descent (Private), Russia: Mount Elbrus Ski Descent (Private).
For information on any of our other expeditions check out our website. For any questions call our office at 877-873-5376 or send us an email info@alpenglowexpeditions.