The mountains of Western Canada are home to endless possibilities for backcountry skiing. The Canadian Rockies are known as one of the best locations in the world for backcountry skiing so skiers come from worldwide to experience the scenery, challenge and deep powder. If you’ve already taken an intro to backcountry skiing course, we would like to help you further develop your skills in this amazing winter sport with one of our ski day trips. This ski mountaineering course in Kananaskis and Banff will develop your leadership skills for travelling in and skiing non-glaciated backcountry terrain. You will be taught the skills required to be a recreational backcountry skiing day trip leader. These skills are ideally paired with advanced recreational avalanche skills training such as our AST 2 Avalanche Skills Training 2 Course. Avalanche skills are an essential part of backcountry winter leadership and safety.
In addition to taking this course check out the ‘Plus Days’ add-on option and put into practice all of the skills you’ve acquired.
Instruction and practice will be combined with field trips to areas in either Kananaskis Country or the mountain National Parks.
Sample Course Agenda & Curriculum
Saturday: 7:30am meet at the Yamnuska Office
- Course introduction and briefing
- Check gear for the program and issue avalanche gear if needed
- Review trip plan for the day
- Avalanche rescue review and group practice
- Introduction to terrain assessment
- Trail breaking and track setting basics – instruction and practice
- Pacing and group management
- Route finding – macro and micro route planning
- Complete a backcountry ski trip
- Overview of Sunday’s objective
- Finish by 5:00pm
Sunday: 7:30am, field day, meet at our office.
- Review trip plan and current conditions
- Participants will carry out the ski tour with the coaching and supervision of their instructors
- Track setting – refinement
- Planning and building corners in difficult or steep areas
- Group management basics
- Terrain assessment – coaching and refinement
- Downhill ski techniques
- Finish tour by 4:00pm
- Wrap up course, return to Canmore
Join us for an additional day of backcountry skiing the day following our Leading Day Trips Skiing course. Sign up for our ‘Plus Day’ add-on option where you’ll get the opportunity to get out for another backcountry ski and put into practice all of the skills you’ve acquired. (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 7:30am 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 on this program.
Participants are responsible for their own transport to Canmore which is a 1hour (100km) drive west from Calgary. Guest’s are responsible for their own transportation during the program.
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 a 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 and 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 upon the quality of your experience. Please be sure to bring all items listed. If you are unsure about anything please don’t hesitate to call and ask us!
There are two ski systems you can use: System 1: Alpine Touring skis are essentially downhill skis with a special touring binding which 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. System 2: Telemark skis. These should only be used for this program if you are at least an advanced-intermediate telemark skier with some backcountry experience. This system is more difficult and less forgiving than the other.
Which should you use? If you are a downhill skier then you should use Alpine Touring gear. Only if you are already an advanced Telemark skier should you bring Telemark gear.
Splitboards can be used on this program however, due to the number of flat areas you are better off on skis.
Both types of gear can be rented in Canmore or Calgary prior to the course.
You need to bring:
- Skis We recommend a short (160 – 185cm) wide ski designed for powder. Please see 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.
- Sun block and Lip Cream
- Pocket knife
- Headlamp with fresh batteries
- Small Blister and 1st-Aid Kit
Additional gear info:
- Skis/splitboard: There are three viable backcountry systems, Alpine Touring, Telemark, 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.
- Telemark: Free-heel telemark bindings should only be used for this program if you are at least an intermediate/advanced telemark skier with backcountry experience.
- Splitboard: Snowboarders sometimes use a splitboard in the backcountry. This system is enjoyable on the descent, but frustrating on the flats. The transitions between uphill and downhill can also be very time consuming. If using this system, please ensure that you are proficient at switching your bindings.
- 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 beacon: A three antennae transceiver is required. Yamnuska uses the Backcountry Access Tracker 2 for all of our winter programs.
- Probe: A minimum 240 cm in length.
- Shovel: A metal blade shovel is required.
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 (light weight 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
Yamnuska supplies these items but feel free to bring 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)
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.
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 travelers 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 the 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’s trip.
$425 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 ‘Leading Day Trips’. Available to weekend participants only.
Is it for you?
If you’ve already had an intro to backcountry skiing we would like to further develop your skills to progress confidently in this sport. This course will develop your leadership skills for travelling in non-glaciated backcountry terrain. To properly lead recreational day trips you should have avalanche training equivalent to the AST 2.