Next Steps Backcountry Skiing

So you’ve taken your AST-1, you’ve taken an Introduction to Backcountry Skiing course, but now what?

This course is designed to bridge the gap for a beginner backcountry skier between what you learn on an introductory AST or Intro to Backcountry Skiing course, and what you need to go out with your peers in the backcountry. You can expect two days of great skiing and learning, focusing on hands-on examples of how to use terrain to maximize safety and fun. If you’ve taken your Introduction to Backcountry Skiing course through us, you’ll have a chance to experience a different area and a different snowpack. You’ll spend two days skiing with and being coached by ACMG-certified guides, stay at a hut overnight, and receive the Managing Avalanche Terrain certificate from Avalanche Canada.

The course includes overnight accommodation at the Wheeler hut in the heart of Rogers Pass. As soon as you step out your door in the morning, you’ll have access to world-class ski terrain. A variety of objectives are available to challenge your group. If you’ve never stayed at a hut before, the Wheeler hut is the perfect first-time destination. Just a short 2km ski from the highway, the hut is located at the head of the Asulkan Valley. Staying at the hut allows you to skip the commute and jump straight on your skis for day 2.

Sydney Dickinson

The AST-1 course is a mandatory prerequesite: without it, you can’t receive the certificate for the Managing Avalanche Terrain course. The course material for the one-day Managing Avalanche Terrain course is included in the Next Steps Backcountry Skiing course. Now that you’ve learned to recognize avalanche terrain in your AST-1, and learned or seen modeled the basics of safe travel technique, you’ll get a chance to put that knowledge into practice. Your guides will discuss how to select appropriate terrain based on the forecast and on your group’s experience level; how to travel safely through, under, and around various micro-features in the terrain; group travel techniques to avoid exposing your entire group and to move efficiently through danger spots; and tips and tricks that build good habits for safe travel. You’ll get used to estimating slope angle, evaluating aspect, and continually watching for changing conditions as your day progresses.

Level of Difficulty

This camp is designed for those who have minimal backcountry experience, but it is not designed for complete beginners. You should have basic familiarity with your gear (5+ days skiing with a group of your peers, have taken the Introduction to Backcountry Skiing program through the ACC, or equivalent). An intermediate level of ski experience at a resort is essential: you must be comfortable on ungroomed blue runs at a mountain resort (Lake Louise blue runs, not prairie ski hill blue runs!).

The AST-1 course is REQUIRED on this course. We offer several dates throughout the season, usually right before this course, if you haven’t taken it yet.

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, fitness, or recommend a different program for you.


  • December 11-12, 2017
  • January 15-16, 2018
  • March 18-19, 2018

  • $375 + Tax / Person
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Camp Itinerary

  • Day 1: Meet at the Rogers Pass Visitor Centre at 8AM sharp. Guides will go over your gear, discuss the day’s objectives, and review paperwork. You’ll also do a review of avalanche safety gear and a beacon check. You’ll then ski into the Wheeler hut, drop your overnight gear, and head out for a day of backcountry skiing.
  • Evening workshop: Now that you’ve had a chance to see and ski the area, your guide will lead you on a discussion around trip planning. You’ll discuss possible objectives in the area in a workshop-type format. What are the cruxes and hazards? What kind of a trip is it? What kind of terrain management experience and snowpack evaluation would you need to ski it safely in current conditions?
  • Day 2 – Early morning start (to be determined by your guide); pack up, tuck away your overnight gear, and head out for the day. You can expect as much skiing and coaching as your legs will allow. Guides will encourage participants to step up and break trail, help choose the best line up and down your chosen objective, and apply the safe travel techniques that were discussed on day 1.
This itinerary is subject to change due to weather, travel conditions and other factors.

Gear, Food & Lodging

  • Guiding and instruction by ACMG-certified guide throughout the course
  • Pre-trip gear and planning advice
  • Accommodation at the Wheeler hut (evening of day 1)
  • ACC course materials
  • Transportation to and from the meeting area
  • All meals for the course
  • National Parks vehicle pass
  • Accommodation before and after the course
  • Personal gear (see equipment list in Info Pack)

Next Steps Backcountry Skiing Staff