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Ski Mountaineering 101
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Group Size
4-6 guests per guides
Skill Level
Intermediate to Advanced

Ski Mountaineering 101

Take your Backcountry Skiing skills to the next level...

An introduction to ski mountaineering covering the skills to plan & execute big mountain objectives. Learn a safe progressive approach to get after big peaks, glaciers, steeps, couloirs & high summits! This 3 day course will take your backcountry skiing skills to the next level. Join on of our seasoned guide for a structured and supportive learning atmosphere.

Topics include; equipment required, understanding the alpine environment, glacier travel, crevasse rescue, trip planning, navigation, steep snow climbing, steep skiing, crampons, ice axe, rappelling & anchor basics.

Here is a sample itinerary for the Nelson based course:

*We will meet the evening before the course start (8-9pm) via Zoom to go over the course objectives, do a gear check, review the current avalanche conditions, weather conditions & cover trip planning.

  • Day 1: 7:30 am meeting at Whitewater ski resort. Topics include; companion rescue practice, crampons & ice axe skills, review of knots, roping-up, backcountry tour focused on steep snow ascents & descents. Debrief and wrap-up by 5:00pm
  • Day 2: 7:30 am, location TBA. Topics include; understanding the alpine environment, glacier travel, crevasse rescue, rappelling & anchor basics. Debrief and wrap-up by 5:00pm
  • Day 3: 7:30 am, location TBA. Topics include; navigation, route planning, backcountry tour focused on summiting a challenging peak and/or rappelling into steep couloirs. Debrief and wrap-up by 5:00pm

This is an intermediate ski mountaineering program. You must be an advanced intermediate downhill resort skier. Guests are responsible to self evaluate their skills as groups need to be matched together based on prior experience and ability. Prior experience with Summit Mountain Guides helps you anticipate the difficulty and style of our program. It is an asset. Please contact us to discuss your background.

All the ski touring venues in this section are located with-in an hour drive from Nelson. Depending on your preferences and the ski touring area you are interested-in, suitable accommodation can be found in Nelson, Rossland, Kaslo & New Denver.

You will be meeting with your guide the evening before the trip starts or morning of, for a final gear check. We will go over last minute changes (weather & avalanche conditions) and logistic for the following day(s). We will also sign a liability waiver.

Kootenay weather can vary drastically. In winter you expect temperatures to be from -15C to –5C in the day while in spring daily temperatures could rise well above zero. Visibility may be poor or whiteout conditions when snowing heavily or clear on bluebird days. Ensure you are dressed for all variations as temperatures, wind and precipitation can change within the day.

  • Pre-trip planning support
  • Fully certified ACMG/IFMGA guide service
  • Group safety equipment (communication device, rescue kit, first aid supplies, GPS, maps)

Not included in price:

  • Lunch, snacks
  • GST 5% tax
  • Personal ski touring boots, skis, skins or snow board set up
  • personal avalanche safety equipment
  • Transportation to touring location
  • lift fee if applicable, one way Whitewater fee is $25 plus tax, Red Mtn fee is $30 for SMG guests
  • Trip cancellation, adventure travel insurance, medical insurance

Where can I rent Ski touring and safety equipment?

Summit Mountain Guides has a limited amount of winter safety equipment available for rental. Contact us for availability. Here are a few outdoor stores in Nelson that supply good service and quality outdoor equipment and gear rental, please ensure you rent gear well in advance.

Rivers Oceans and Mountains in Nelson 354-2056
Valhalla Pure Outfitters in Nelson 354-1006
Gericks in Nelson 354-4622
High Performance Rentals at Red Mountain 250-362-7384

Skis, Telemark or Split Boards?


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 or Snowboarder should you bring Telemark or Split Board gear. All types of gear can be rented in Nelson prior to your day trip.  There are three types of backcountry systems you can use:

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 of downhill skiing who is not already an advanced telemark skier.

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 others.

Snowboarding with a Split Board is the most effective way to snowboard in the back country. We recommend this system to advanced snowboarder over snowshoeing.

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