Have you been through our Intro to Backcountry Skiing & Splitboarding program? Spent some time in the backcountry but have unanswered questions on terrain choices or avalanche danger? Stood at the top of a run and wondered how to get down or deal with steeper descents and up tracks? Then this is the place for you. Our goal over the course of this backcountry skiing program is to take your skills to the next level. Combining the pure backcountry experience with the opportunity to solidify the basics and develop more sophisticated techniques makes this program appropriate for those looking for 2 days of guided skiing and splitboarding. This program is designed to refine your skillset allowing you the ability to venture deeper into the mountains.
Throughout this backcountry skiing course, you will receive intensive coaching about your riding technique from Yamnuska’s renowned ACMG guides. Your technique will be fine-tuned with additional skills to cope with different snow conditions and slopes while skiing unforgettable descents.
The final goal is to allow you to travel efficiently and confidently in the backcountry and be ready to take on more advanced tours and guided adventures.
Thanks to our sponsors at K2 Skis and BCA who have generously donated gear and prizes, participants who take part in an Avalanche Safety Training course or Backcountry Ski public program before February 28, 2023, have the chance to win some incredible gear. So don’t wait…register now!
Saturday: 7:30 am meet at the Yamnuska Office
- Course introduction and briefing
- Check gear for the program and issue avalanche gear if needed
- Avalanche rescue review and group practice
- Trail breaking and track setting
- Recognizing avalanche terrain and avoiding avalanches
- Decision making for the descent of skiing or splitboarding
- Overview of Sunday’s objective
Sunday: 7:30 am, field day, meet at our office.
- Review trip plan and current conditions
- Track setting – refinement including kick turns
- Planning and building corners in difficult or steep areas
- Wrap up the course, return to Canmore
If you want to hunt for powder or just take your skiing/splitboarding to the next level join us for an additional day where our guide will find you the best snow and terrain on any given day. (Must be 18 years of age or older unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.)
Meeting Time and Place
The course begins Saturday morning at 7:30 am at the Yamnuska office. The Yamnuska office is located at #200 – 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for location.
Guides and Group Size
Our instructors are certified professional ski guides or mountain guides who are licensed to teach and guide in the backcountry. There will be a maximum of 8 participants per guide and a maximum of 16 participants on the course. There will be a minimum of 4 participants in this program.
Participants are responsible for their own transport to Canmore which is a 1hour (100km) drive west of Calgary. Guests are responsible for their own transportation during the program.
Please note that program venues may be within National Parks and/or Kananaskis Country. For programs where transportation is not provided by Yamnuska/Canadian Rockies Hiking by Yamnuska, guests will be required to purchase their own pass.
National Park passes are available both online at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/admission and in-person at National park gates and some information centres.
Kananaskis Country conservation passes are available online at https://www.alberta.ca/kananaskis-conservation-pass.aspx
Accommodation and Meals
Accommodation in Canmore is not included. A variety of accommodation options exist in both Canmore and Banff. We recommend that you book your own pre and post-trip accommodations well in advance as all levels of accommodations in the Bow Valley fill quickly.
Food is not supplied. Each day bring plenty to drink and lunch plus energy snacks. We particularly suggest bringing a Thermos and hot drink.
Equipment and Clothing
You will need to bring your own clothing, alpine touring skis, boots, poles, climbing skins, and daypack. If you have your own personal Avalanche Safety equipment, it is great to bring this along as well as some beacons have different features which we can explain during the Avalanche review session.
The equipment and clothing you bring will have a big impact on the quality of your experience. Please be sure to bring all the items listed. If you are unsure about anything please don’t hesitate to call and ask us!
Alpine Touring skis are essentially downhill skis with a special touring binding that allows the heel to lift whilst going uphill or across the flats and then ‘locks down’ to become a regular downhill safety binding. We recommend this system to anyone with a background in downhill skiing.
Splitboards can be used in this program.
Both types of gear can be rented in Canmore or Calgary prior to the course.
You need to bring:
- Skis/Splitboard We recommend a short (160 – 185cm) wide ski designed for powder. Please see the note under rental information if you are renting ski equipment.
- Climbing skins ‘Stick-on type’
- Ski Poles
- Ski boots
- Ski Helmet (optional)
- Daypack (large enough for spare clothes, lunch & equipment)
- Sunglasses and ski goggles
- Thermos flask and water bottle.
- Sunblock and Lip Cream
- Pocket knife
- Headlamp with fresh batteries
- Small Blister and 1st-Aid Kit
- Small repair kit for bindings, skis or splitboard (this may include straps, nuts, bolts, small leatherman)
Additional gear info:
- Skis/splitboard: There are two viable backcountry systems, Alpine Touring and Splitboard.
- Alpine Touring: Essentially downhill skis with a special touring binding which allows the heel to lift when going uphill and then locks down to become an alpine binding for the downhill.
- Splitboard: If you are a rider and proficient on a snowboard, the backcountry touring version is called a splitboard. This is a snowboard that can be split to make two ski-type platforms for touring on the uphill ascent. The bindings have two positions and can be switched depending on whether you are climbing or descending. Split boards also use climbing skins for the ascent. For the downhill, the board is reassembled or joined to be in snowboard (ride) mode. If you are new to this system, you will need to practice the transitions of switching the board from touring to riding and back again. Your enjoyment will be vastly greater if you are efficient and practiced with this transition. For splitboarders, regular snowboard boots will work. A splitboard specific boot will give you more comfort when in touring mode and offer extra support to make sidehilling and traversing terrain easier to manage.
- Boots: Backcountry boots are different from regular alpine ski boots. In the backcountry, boots need to have an uphill mode that allows a free range of motion in the upper part of the boot. You should not use your regular ski boots for touring and walking uphill.
- Climbing skins: The glue on the base of the skin should be in good condition and the skins need to be properly fitted. Try the skins on your skis/splitboard to make sure they are the right length and width before you arrive.
- Ski poles: Backcountry poles need powder baskets on the tips.
- Avalanche Transceiver: A three antennae transceiver is required.
- Probe: A minimum of 240 cm in length.
- Shovel: A metal blade shovel is required.
- Hand Sanitizer
We suggest bringing light clothing of varying thicknesses that can be ‘layered’ to achieve comfort and versatility. The most important consideration for clothing is the ability to regulate temperature as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest and from the ascent to the descent.
- Long underwear top and bottoms (lightweight synthetic or wool)
- Warm pants (nylon blend, insulated, or fleece)
- Warm shirt (not cotton)
- Medium weight fleece sweater
- Fleece Jacket
- Light insulated jacket or vest
- Waterproof jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or nylon)
- Waterproof pants (Gore-Tex or nylon, with side zippers)
- Socks (wool outer & polypro liner), several sets
- Wool or fleece hat
- Waterproof ski mountaineering gloves or mitts
- Face Mask
Yamnuska supplies these items but feel free to bring them anyway:
- Avalanche transceiver – digital transceiver with a triple antennae
- Collapsible Avalanche Probe
- Avalanche Shovel
- Snow Study Kit
Skis, Boots, Skins, and Poles can be rented from:
- Canmore: Gear Up – (403 678-1636)
- Calgary: M.E.C. – 830-10 Ave. S.W. Calgary (Tel: 403 363-0122)
- Lake Louise: Wilson Mountain Sports – (1-866-929-3636)
We recommend reserving your gear in advance.
*Please note that your ‘DIN’ or ‘Release Value’ settings on your ski bindings are critical to your safety while skiing. Our expectation is that everyone arrives on programs with their ski binding’s release value correctly set. We have noted that some ski rental shops will not set release values on touring bindings. We advise you to rent from a shop that will set release values on your ski touring bindings unless you are proficient and comfortable setting your own DIN/release value. Failure to have Release Values correctly set could result in a serious injury.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require full payment on booking.
We ask that you familiarize yourself with our detailed booking instructions and conditions.
Risk is an inherent part of all mountain activities. We strive to manage and reduce it however, it is impossible to totally eliminate. Learn more about our safety and risk management approach here. Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the program. Please view our sample waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travellers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue in the national and provincial parks, however, costs such as air or ground transportation, long-term care, and other services are not covered.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries, and other unplanned events. For these eventualities, Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical, and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure trip.
Freerider camp - steep tree skiing
Freerider camp - heading out
Freerider camp - splitboard powder - photo credit Eva Capozzola
Freerider camp - ski powder - photo credit Eva Capozzola
Freerider camp - getting ready for the descent - photo credit Eva Capozzola
Freerider camp - checking snow stability - photo credit Eva Capozzola
Freerider camp - checking out the terrain
Freerider camp - heading up
Freerider camp - awesome scenery
Freerider camp - photo credit Eva Capozzola
$449 CDN includes instruction and avalanche safety equipment. GST is extra.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Optional PLUS DAY:
$345 plus GST. Every Monday following this course. Available to course participants only.
Please note you will be required to sign the Yamnuska Release of Liability, and Waiver of Claims prior to commencing the program. Please review the sample waiver prior to booking and call us with any questions.
Is it for you?
If you’ve already taken our beginner backcountry skiing and splitboard training course and would like to further develop your skills to progress confidently in this sport. Participants are required to be at least intermediate skiers/splitboarders (i.e. must feel comfortable on blue runs in most conditions). Participants should be ‘hiking fit’.
Skiers and Splitboarders should be competent with their transitions (switching from ski tour mode to downhill mode). Splitboarders should be comfortable skiing downhill in split mode.
Splitboarders should have their downhill kick turns dialed, as this skill will be used frequently to traverse downhill and across slopes at mellow angles.
We strongly urge skiers and Splitboarders to bring spare parts for their setups. Most of our guides are familiar with splitboarding sets ups, but each system is different, and our expectation is that guests will have basic knowledge on common Splitboard concerns (i.e. replacing toe straps on Splitboard bindings).