Intro to Backcountry Skiing #1

Open the Door to More Powder and Less Crowds

Intro to Backcountry Skiing #1

Open the Door to More Powder and Less Crowds

Setup For Success With Our Pre-Trip Planning

Travel With Confidence Under Our Guiding Team

Go Further After Your Course With Our Included Backcountry Handbook

Is This Camp For You?

Entry Level

This camp is designed for those who have little to no backcountry experience. However, an intermediate level of ski experience at a resort is essential – you must be comfortable on ungroomed blue runs and you will have a better time on the course if you have some experience skiing with a daypack (30L) and skiing varied terrain and conditions.

You will spend almost all day outside (up to 8 hours), sometimes stopping for discussion or breaks. Come prepared for cold weather with warm layers and please read the gear list carefully making sure you have everything. It is imperative that you have a basic level of fitness to allow for access and learning.

If you have any questions about your suitability for this course, please contact the office before registering.


Before registering, please review our Trip Waivers and Liability, and Cancellation Policies.

Camps are subject to minimum enrollment in order to run.

Need help?

Trip Description

Eyeing the untracked powder beyond the resort boundary, but not sure how to transition to the backcountry safely and responsibly? Our entry level ski & splitboard course is designed for you! Whether it’s deciding where to ride, assessing the snowpack or understanding the gear, our highly trained and experienced ACMG guides will show you the way. An included copy of the ACC’s Winter Backcountry Leader Manual will provide valuable reference material once you’re ready to go it alone.

Our fantastic location in Canmore, AB, gives access to the perfect learning environment in nearby Kananaskis and Banff National Park. For those coming from further afield, enjoy our convenient on-site, award winning hostel accommodation for a modest additional fee.


Guide Selection Pending

Guides for this trip are still being confirmed.

Our dedicated on-staff Ski Guide Doug Latimer oversees all of our winter introductory programs. Doug has almost 20 years of experience in teaching AST and other winter instructional courses, as well as in developing course materials and ski guiding. We are extremely excited to have him on board for a third season after rave reviews in previous seasons.

We want to provide the best possible learning experience and give you maximum opportunity to ask questions. So participant-to-guide ratios will be kept below a maximum of 6:1.

The ACC hires guides certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG). Visit the ACMG website to learn more about what they do!

*Guiding Staff for a trip sometimes have to swapped out due to unavoidable circumstances. In this event ACC staff with contact you as soon as possible to update you on any changes to trip staffing


The main focus of this course is giving you the tools you need to start exploring the backcountry independently. Key topics of learning will include:

  • Terrain decisions
  • Safe travel practices
  • Hazard assessment
  • Efficient transitions
  • Layering systems
  • Backcountry equipment and what to pack
  • Basic companion rescue
  • Trip planning

Although some aspects of avalanche safety will be touched on, this is not a specialized Avalanche Safety Training course (which we would recommend taking in addition to this course). Our guides will be as accommodating as possible to each individual’s unique goals and requirements so feel free come armed with specific questions or learning requests.

Day-by-Day Adventure Itinerary

Pre Trip Meeting

Participants meet online at 6:00 pm MST via a zoom link sent out 1-2 weeks before course starts. This pre meeting will break down the basic trip planning needed for a winter backcountry outing: research and resources, trip planning, weather considerations, hazard evaluation, difficulty assessment, basic backcountry gear systems, emergency gear, and clothing layering systems.

The session will last around one hour with the primary goal of going over gear so everyone feels ready when meeting on the first field day.

Day 1
Meet at Commonwealth Creek Parking (Kananaskis) at 9 AM (MST).
  • Go over gear and look at guide's pack
  • Short session on the use of avalanche gear; avalanche companion rescue scenario
  • Lunch & discussion of afternoon objectives
  • Short ski lap: learn to use your skins and travel efficiently uphill; modelling of safe travel and group management techniques in avalanche terrain; tips and tricks for downhill skiing in backcountry conditions
  • Back to the cars around 4 PM (MST)
Day 2
  • Early morning start (to be determined by the group) and travel to course area
  • briefing and discussion of objective
  • Longer ski lap or laps: focus on efficient and safe travel
backcountry skiing

Food, Accommodation and Rentals


To keep the cost of this camp as low as possible for you, food is not provided on this camp. Be sure to bring along a packed lunch and your favourite snack to fuel the field day!


Accommodation is not included in this course.


If you don't have everything on the gear list and aren't ready to invest in your own, there are many awesome local businesses that rent out all of the equipment you will need. Be sure to reserve your rentals ahead of time to make sure everything you need is available for you when you need it.

Coming from the Bow Valley? Check out Gear Up in Canmore. ACC members get 10% off all gear rentals!
  • Coming from Calgary? We recommend renting your gear from MEC, the University of Calgary Outdoors Center, or the Norseman.
  • Coming from the Revelstoke? Give Revelstoke Powder Rentals a try.


  • 2 days instruction by ACMG certified ski guides
  • Office staff support before the course to help with gear and questions
  • Winter Backcountry Leader Handbook

Not Included

  • Transportation to and from the field
  • Accommodation
  • Meals and lunches
  • Personal gear (see gear list)


Adventure Hazards


What are the Risks?

Cornices and crevasses. Trees, tree wells, and tree stumps. Cliffs, creeks,  rocks and boulders. Holes and depressions below the snow surface. Variable and difficult snow conditions. Snowcat roads and road ranks. Fences and other man-made structures. Impact or collision with other persons, vehicles or objects. Encounters with domestic or wild animals. Loss of balance or control. Becoming lost or separated from the group. Slips, trips, and falls. 

Hazard Mitigation

Mitigated by Trained and experienced Guide.

The use of Radios. 

General Hazards

What are the Risks?

Slips trips and falls indoor or outdoor. Equipment failure. Infectious disease contracted through viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi which may be transmitted through direct or indirect contact. Negligence of other persons, including other guests. Negligent first aid. Negligence of the guide Including failure to take reasonable steps to safeguard or protect you from, or warn you of risk, dangers, hazards, on participating in ACC activities

Hazard Mitigation

Developed safety plans and procedures with decades of experience managing risk. 


What are the Risks?

Avalanches can occur in the terrain you will be entering. Caused by natural forces, or by people travelling through the terrain (skiing/snowboarding). Anyone caught in an avalanche is at risk of personal injury, death, and/or property damage or loss.

Hazard Mitigation

Certified Guides with experience and training to manage this risk.

Daily risk assessment processes.

Guest training   

Communication and Rescue

What are the Risks?

Communication can be difficult and in the event of an accident, rescue and treatment may not be available. Adverse weather may also delay the arrival of treatment and transport out of the field. If an Injury occurs in challenging terrain movement to an evacuation point may be slow.

Hazard Mitigation

First Aid / Rescue Training.

Satellite Communications

Boots and Binding Systems

What are the Risks?

Even when set up correctly, a ski binding might not release during every fall or may release unexpectedly. The ski boot/binding system is no guarantee that the skier will not be injuredNon-DIN-certified bindings, such as pin/tech bindings, present a higher risk of pre-release and/or injury as they are not designed to the same safety standards as a DIN-certified alpine binding.

Unlike alpine ski boot/binding systems, snowboard and some telemark boot/binding systems are not designed or intended to release and will not release under normal circumstancesUsing such a system increases the risk of injury and/or death when caught in an avalanche.  

Hazard Mitigation


We sell Tugo® Travel Insurance suitable for both ACC Adventures and personal trips

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Guests who have immediate plans to travel to one of our huts in Jasper National Park please respect the wildfire closures. We will be in contact with guests affected by the closures shortly.

We are asking guests with future reservations at ACC huts in Jasper National Park to please be patient as the situation is evolving. We will update our guests on any future closures as we receive updates from the emergency response teams.