Camp Highlights

  • Start your backcountry career with an ACMG certified ski guide
  • Pre-course learning maximizes hands-on learning in the backcountry
  • Hostel accommodation included in camp fee
  • Women's-only and splitboard-specific editions available

Dates & price

    4 course dates

    •  Dec 29 - 30
    •  Jan 7 - 8
    •  Jan 26 - 27 (women only)
    •  Feb 2 - 3 
    • $375 + Tax / Person

Get More Powder and Less Crowds by Opening the Door to the Backcountry

If you’ve been eyeing the untracked powder behind the rope at the resort or along the highway, but you’re not sure where to start, this is the course for you.

The backcountry is an entirely different beast to the resort. Terrain, snowpack, snow type, travel conditions, fitness, weather, avalanche hazard, and gear are just a few of the considerations that go into riding in the backcountry. Set yourself up for the best possible experience with our Learn to Backcountry Ski course.

As with 2017/18, we'll be running several iterations of the course through 2018/19 including the new and popular women's only edition. Aspiring splitboarders, we also have a dedicated course for you!

Camp Objectives

This course is not an Avalanche Safety Training (AST-1) course: while the guides will discuss terrain and safe travel practices, the main focus of the course will be on introducing people to the world of backcountry gear, travel, and skiing. Transitions from up the hill to down the hill can eat up a lot of time: imagine trying to un-stick skins from themselves, tighten your boots up, get all of your downhill clothing out of your pack and your uphill layers back into your pack, put on your helmet, and set off (all while your experienced partners are ready to go, eyeing their watches and the powder in frustration). Like anything, organization is key. Our experienced and patient guides will walk you through how to put together a clothing layering system for backcountry skiing; their tips and tricks to keep yourself warm, safe, blister-free, and comfortable; what emergency equipment is absolutely essential to have in your pack; and the basics of companion rescue (how to use your beacon, probe, and shovel).

The evening session will break down the basic trip planning needed for a winter backcountry outing: trip research and resources, weather considerations, hazard evaluation, difficulty assessment, basic backcountry gear systems, emergency gear, and clothing layering systems. The next two days will be very hands-on. While your guide may find time to discuss ski technique, basic terrain management, weather, and hazards, the focus of this course is on getting you outside and helping you make your first backcountry turns.

You should walk away from this course with a good understanding of what is involved in planning a backcountry ski trip, what gear you’ll need to purchase and/or rent, and what your next steps towards becoming independent in the backcountry are.

Day by Day Adventure Itinerary 
  • Pre Course
  • Familiarity with gear
  • Clothing layering system
  • Basic trip planning

Day 1 

  • Early morning start (to be determined by your guide); carpool to course area
  • 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

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; guide will model safe travel, be available to answer participant questions, and lead group discussions on gear, planning, conditions, or techniques
  • Course ends
Is this Camp For Me?
Entry Level

This camp is designed for those who have little to no backcountry experience. An intermediate level of ski experience at a resort is essential: you must be comfortable on ungroomed blue runs at a mountain resort. You will have a better time on the course if you have some experience skiing with a daypack (30L) and are used to adapting to challenging terrain and conditions.

You will spend almost all day outside (up to 8 hours), sometimes stopped for discussion or breaks. Come prepared for cold weather with warm layers: please read the gear list carefully, and make sure you have everything. Fitness is a key component to backcountry travel. 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. If you are unable to go on the course, we will try to provide suggestions about options to improve either ski technique or fitness.

Food, Accommodation and Guiding

To keep the cost of this course as low as possible for participants, food will not be provided as part of the course. So please brink along your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (or favoured alternative), a packed lunch and some snacks for both days.


One night of hostel accommodation is included in your course fee. Accommodation is at the ACC Clubhouse in Canmore or the Lake Louise Alpine Centre hostel where you can enjoy the remote atmosphere that surrounds us. Located on a high bench overlooking the Three Sisters, Ha Ling and Mount Rundle, our purpose built hostel is the perfect place to relax while completing your course.

For full details on the Canmore Clubhouse accommodation click here.


Our dedicated on-staff ACC guide Doug Latimer oversees our AST and Intro To programs. Doug has almost 20 years of experience in teaching AST and other winter instructional courses, as well as in developing course materials and winter guiding. We are extremely excited to have him on board for our 2018/19 season going forward and believe it will make our courses the best ever in terms of standardization and professionalism.

  • Even though I have friends who ski in the backcountry, I was intimidated to join them without some formal training, this gave me the confidence I needed
  • One of the best weekend investments I've ever made
  • The tips and tricks our guide taught us throughout the weekend will be invaluable for years to come
- Past Intro to Backcountry Skiing Course Participants-

Adventure Map

more information

  Email us
   403 678 3200 ext. 213

  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

Cancellation policy and travel Insurance

Please be sure to review our cancellation policy before registering for ACC Adventures:
Cancellation Policy
We sell Tugo® Travel Insurance suitable for both ACC Adventures and personal trips

Travel Insurance


  • 2 days professional instruction from ACMG certified ski guides 
  • 1 night accommodation at the ACC Clubhouse in Canmore or Lake Louise Alpine Centre hostel
  • Pre-course ACC learning materials
  • Group gear

Participants Must Provide

  • Transportation to and from the field location on Day 1 and 2
  • Meals and lunches
  • Personal gear (see gear list)

Your Guides

Chucky Gerrard

Participants and staff at the GMC are probably familiar with Charles “Chucky” Gerrard as the guy who keeps the camp running, can improvise a fix for almost anything with a roll of duct tape and the parts from an old dirt bike, and makes sure that everybody gets to where they’re going. In the winter, he does double-duty as an ACMG guide and a Level 4 snowboard instructor with CASI (Canadian Alliance of Snowboard Instructors). In his spare time, he hand builds his own gear.

Doug Latimer

Doug has 20 years of guiding experience behind him as an ACMG ski guide and an ACMG apprentice rock guide. As well as his private guiding he has spent a number of years working for the UoC where he taught a range of instructional programs in avalanche training, crevasse rescue and backcountry ski and ski mountaineering. He also somehow finds time to run a multimedia production company! In 2019, we are excited to announce Doug will be joining us as our on-staff winter guide; the perfect guy to take care of our Intro To, avalanche safety and other ski courses. 

Alison Cardinal

Alison moved to Canmore from Northern Ireland, and has spent a lot of time hill walking in the rain in Scotland as well as climbing and skiing in Chamonix, the Dolomites, the Pyrenees and Kenya. She is a certified backpacking guide and recently completed her full ski guide certification through the ACMG. Alison is an active trip leader with the Rocky Mountain Section and the National office.

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