The Alpine Club of Canada

Intro to Ski Mountaineering

Learn the Skills Needed to Unlock Glaciated, Steep or Technical Terrain

Are you ready to take the next step in your backcountry skiing career? Sometimes just lapping that great powder field isn’t enough and you want to start testing yourself on technical summits or steep couloirs. Like many things in the mountains, increased challenge comes with increased risk. Which is why we’ve developed a course to teach you the skills needed to progress safely and responsibly.

Based out of the Banff/Canmore/Lake Louise area, this camp puts you on the doorstep of some of the best ski mountaineering terrain in North America at a time of the year when the snowpack is typically more stable, crevasses have good coverage and the ski quality is at its best. Combine that with our highly experienced guides, and the foundations are set for a full week of summits, couloirs and learning. Not to mention you can say goodbye to the -30 weather!
Come push your winter capabilities further with the ACC this spring!

Smartwool supports our Powder Program and we thank them for their assistance.
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APRIL: 12TH- 15TH, 2024

APRIL: 4TH – 7TH, 2025

Price: $1050+ TAX

Before registering, please review our Waivers and Liability page.


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

Backcountry Skiing Hazards

  • 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
  • Terrain
      • Cornices
      • Crevasses
      • Trees, tree wells, and tree stumps
      • Cliffs
      • Creeks
      • Rocks and Boulders
      • Variable and difficult snow conditions
      • Impact or collision with other persons 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
    • Our ACMG certified guides have experience and training to manage this risk
    • Radios and/or other communication devices
  • Boots and Binding systems
    • 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 injured. Non-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 circumstances. Using such a system increases the risk of injury and/or death when caught in an avalanche.
  • 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

This course aims to teach you core ski mountaineering skills such as: 

  • Use of ski crampons
  • Use of boot crampons and ice axe
  • Rapid transitioning
  • Rapelling and anchor assessment
  • Crevasse rescue techniques
  • Basic rope rescue techniques
  • Roping up for glacier travel 

As well as hard skills, there will be opportunity to develop softer skills such as

  • Trip planning
  • Risk assessment and mitigation
  • Navigation and route finding
  • Leadership tactics and decision making

    The focus of this course is on skill development. But we aim to give you first-hand experience on more involved objectives where learning can happen in a realistic environment. These could include:
  • Cirque Peak (plus couloir)
  • Crowfoot Mountain
  • Crowfoot Couloir
  • Cathedral Mountain
  • Grand Daddy Couloir
  • Many more!

    Our experienced guides will be there to supervise and coach, but this course is meant to get you out and give you the skills you need to be an independent ski mountaineer.
  • Day 1: 8:00am meet-up with your guide at a pre determined location (details will be sent our one week before the course starts). Introductions, gear checks and a brief companion rescue practice will be followed by an easy day in the backcountry where you can familiarize yourself with the guide and the other participants. 
  • Day 2 -4 : Workshops on each of these days will see you tackling local but diverse ski mountaineering objectives. Trip planning will take place the evening before each day with the group then executing each objective in an increasingly independent manner, while always being under the supervision of our experienced guide.

As a minimum, you should have an intermediate level of backcountry ski experience, be comfortable with your touring gear, and have already completed the AST-1 course or equivalent (preferably AST-2). You should also have a good level of fitness: some of the bigger objectives will involve an alpine start and a 10+ hour ski day. If you have any questions about your suitability for this course, please contact the National Office before registering.


Food is not included in this course. Please bring a packed lunch and snacks for each day.


We recommend staying in Canmore or Banff to be the most central to daily objectives. Why not top of your experience with a stay at our Canmore Clubhouse hostel.  Please check with our front desk for availability and bookings – 403.678.3200 ext. 0


Our highly experienced ski guides have a specialized background in offering instructional and skill development courses. This year we will be reducing the numbers of participants to each full ski guide to a maximum of 5:1 to give you as much time interacting with our guides as possible. If we receive sufficient registrations, this will also mean that the group can split into two based on ability, fitness, ambition or preferred objective. 

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 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.


Francisco – AKA Pancho – is originally from Santiago, Chile where he began his outdoor pursuits at an early age accomplishing numerous first ascents in the Andes. At 18, he was invited on a climbing trip to the Alps where his passion for adventures in the mountains was cemented. Pancho began his guiding career leading mountaineering trips to Aconcagua and trekking trips to Patagonia and in 2004 he received his UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guide certification in France and has continued his guiding career in the Andes, Alps, Rockies and Himalayas. In 2006 he began semi-annual trips to Canada to experience all the Canadian Rockies have to offer and now reside full-time in Canmore with his wife. Pancho is excited about sharing the outdoors with his guests, whether it is mountaineering, climbing, skiing, trekking, or teaching outdoor education courses.

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


  • 4 days of professional guiding at max 5:1 ratios by certified ACMG alpine guides
  • All Group Gear


  • Transportation to and from the trailhead
  • Accommodation
  • Lunches and Snacks!
  • Personal gear (see gear list)


  • 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