Introduction to Winter Camping

Open up new terrain, and be ready for emergencies

Some of the best ski objectives don’t have huts. The 6-Pass Traverse in Jasper, Akshayuk Pass on Baffin Island, the Columbia Icefield, one of the Grand Rockies traverses, or the Bugs to Rogers traverse…if any of these are on your bucket list, you’re going to be spending some time overnight in a tent.

Whether it’s to learn to survive an unexpected night out or to get the skills for a big ski traverse, learning how to set up camp in the winter is an essential backcountry skill that many people are lacking. In the winter, the days are shorter and the nights are longer. A minor injury or mishap on a backcountry ski trip can quickly turn into an epic. Having the skills to build a shelter and stay warm can literally be the difference between life and death for yourself or for your group. On this course, you’ll learn about gear systems and packing for winter camping. This course will also cover the basics of emergency shelters, how to build and maintain a fire in cold conditions, and what emergency gear is essential to have in your pack to easily improvise a shelter and keep yourself warm.

If it’s your first time overnight in the winter, our experienced instructor will help guide you through the process of setting up camp. Cooking in the winter can also be a challenge, and organization definitely makes a difference. Depending on snow conditions, you’ll practise building an emergency shelter, set up a kitchen and sleeping area, discuss how to use snow structures to protect your kitchen and common area, and pick up as many tips and tricks as you can while having a safe and comfortable first winter camping experience.

Level of Difficulty

Participants should have some backcountry experience, and be familiar with the basics of clothing layering and packing. You should also have some summer backcountry camping experience. This course will involve a short snowshoe or ski to an appropriate camping spot; you must be able to carry a heavy pack for 1-2km.


  • January 26-28, 2018

  • $325+ Tax / Person
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Camp Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Meet at 6:00 PM in the Heritage Room in the ACC’s Canmore Clubhouse
  • Introductions, course goals, agenda, waivers
  • Classroom session (6:30-8:30 PM): Essential gear, winter survival, snow shelters, trip planning
  • Gear & food plan check for field session
  • Arrange carpooling for field session
  • Day 2 – Meet at 11:00AM at Bagel Co on Railway Avenue
  • Carpool to field session, snowshoe in to camping area
  • Set up camp (tents, kitchen area)
  • Survival school (emergency shelters, campfire)
  • Snow school (snow shelter options)
  • Gear care (how to dry and care for gear in winter environment)
  • Cook dinner
  • Day 3:
  • Breakfast
  • Break camp, hike out
This itinerary is subject to change due to weather, travel conditions and other factors.

Gear, Food & Lodging

  • Instruction throughout the course
  • Group gear (stoves, tents, pots and pans)
  • Emergency gear (satellite phone, first aid kit)
  • Pre-trip gear and planning advice
  • Transportation to and from the field location on Day 2 – participants will be expected to use their own vehicles and carpool
  • Accommodation on the first night is not included. Accommodation is available at the ACC’s Canmore Clubhouse ($30/night).
  • All meals for the course (Part of the course is learning how to pack and prepare food for winter camping yourself: a suggested meal plan is included in the info pack, and cooking gear (stoves or stove systems and pots) will be available.)
  • Personal gear (Please see gear list in info pack)

Introduction to Winter Camping Staff