SIGN IN

The Alpine Club of Canada

Intro to Powder

Open the Door to More Powder and Less Crowds

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. A included copy of the ACC’s Winter Backcountry Leader Manual will provide valuable reference material once you’re ready to go it alone.

As well as our regular course dates, we offer a women & non-binary-only edition for those looking for a gender-inclusive learning environment. And we also offer splitboard-specific editions which are taught by splitboarding guru, Chucky Gerrard.

Whichever, you choose, 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. 

ARC'TERYX supports our Mountaineering Program and we thank them for their assistance.
Previous slide
Next slide

BOOKING INFORMATION

Date:
JULY: 7TH – 9TH, 2023
AUGUST: 4TH – 6TH, 2023

Price: $800 + TAX

Before registering, please review our Waivers and Liability page.

MORE INFORMATION

Please try to register online before calling. If you are having issues please try to have your emergency contact information and course questionnaire filled out before calling.

OR Call: (403)-678-3200 ext 213

Rockfall and icefall
  • Rockfall and icefall can be caused by natural forces, or by people travelling through the terrain (Climbing/Scrambling/Hiking)
    What are the risks
  • Impact from a falling rock or ice can result in injury or death and can also damage equipment such as ropes.
    Hazard Mitigation
  • Our ACMG certified guides have experience and training to manage this risk
  • Your guide will ask you to put on a helmet when in the mountains

Avalanche
  • Avalanches can occur in the terrain you will be entering. Caused by natural forces, or by people travelling through the terrain
    What are the risks
  • Anyone caught in a avalanche is at risk of personal injury, death, and or property damage or loss
    Hazard Mitigation
  • Our ACMG certified guides have experience and training to manage this risk
  • Daily risk assessment processes
  • Guest training if avalanches are a risk on your trip

Terrain
  • Cornices
  • Crevasses
  • Trees, tree wells, and tree stumps
  • Creeks
  • Rocks and Boulders
  • Variable and difficult walking terrain
  • Impact or collision with other persons or objects
  • Encounters with domestic or wild animals
  • Contact with poisonous flora or fauna
  • Loss of balance or control
  • Slips, trips, and falls
    Hazard Mitigation
  • Our ACMG certified guides have experience and training to manage this risk
  • Radios and/or other communication devices

Falls and belaying
  • Mountaineering and ice climbing present the risk of falling from the wall causing the climber to collide with the wall or ground
  • There is also the risk of a belay failure, which can contribute to a ground fall
    Hazard Mitigation
  • Your guide will review best belay practices with you or will control the belay

Communication, rescue, and medical treatment
  • 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 or transportation out of the field,
  • Alpine weather conditions can be extreme and change rapidly without warning making travel by helicopter, snowmobile, snowcat, dangerous
  • If an injury occurs in challenging terrain movement to an evacuation point may be slow
    Hazard Mitigation
  • Your guide is trained in both backcountry first-aid and rescue techniques
  • Emergency response plans
  • Satellite communication tools

Other
  • Slips trips and falls indoor or outdoor
  • Infectious disease contracted via direct or indirect contact, including but not limited to influenza or Covid-19
  • Equipment failure
  • Negligence of other persons, including other guests
  • Negligence of the guide Including failure to to take reasonable steps to safeguard or protect you from or warn you of risk, dangers, hazards, oh participating in ACC activities
    Hazard Mitigation
  • Your guide is trained in both backcountry first-aid and rescue techniques
  • Satellite communication tools

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. 

Evening Session:

  • 6 PM (MST) on Zoom. The meeting link will be sent 1 week before course start date.
  • The meeting with 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
  • Safety briefing and discussion of objective
  • Longer ski lap or laps: focus on efficient and safe travel;  
Novice

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.

Food

Food will not be provided as part of the course. So please bring along a packed lunch and some snacks for both days.

Accommodation

Accommodation is not provided on this course

Guiding

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!

Gear and Rentals

Don’t have everything on the gear list (found on the right hand side of this webpage)? We recommend heading to Gear Up in Canmore to grab any items your might be missing. To ensure availability of items call ahead to book. ACC members get a 10% discount.

YOUR GUIDES

CHRIS GIRARD

Chris Girard is an ACMG Ski Guide based out of Cochrane, Alberta and takes great pleasure is sharing his passion for the mountains. His guiding aspirations began through volunteering and leading trips through various ACC sections. In addition to being an ACMG Ski Guide, Chris is also a professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association, and an AST Provider with Avalanche Canada. Now a Father of two, Chris is well practiced in staying calm and keeping his sense of humour in times of chaos. During his off season, Chris works as a guide on the Athabasca Glacier.

Derek Tyron

Derek has a nine year background in industrial avalanche forecasting for mining and railway operations in BC and AB. He is now transitioning to guiding with both apprentice ski and rock guiding certifications. Derek is a passionate skier and rock climber, who loves sharing his knowledge and helping others achieve their goals in the mountains.

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

INCLUDED WITH YOUR CAMP FEE

  • 3 days of professional guiding at max 6:1 ratios by certified ACMG alpine guides
  • 2 nights accommodation at the Bow and Peyto Hut
  • All Group Gear

PARTICIPANTS MUST PROVIDE

  • Transportation to and from the trailhead
  • Food for your trip (2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners, and snacks!)
  • Personal gear (see gear list)

ORGANIZING FANTASTIC ACC ADVENTURES FOR OVER 100 YEARS

  • Local Knowledge – based out of Canmore, AB, we know the Rockies region and the best local caterers, guides and porters
  • Dedicated resources – full-time office staff, ACMG guides and group equipment on-hand to ensure your trip runs smoothly
  • Not-for-profit – any money we make on camps and courses is reinvested into providing services for our members and the mountain community