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Colorado Mountain Club
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Home » Classes » CMC Classes and Schools » Intro to Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding

man hiking up on skis to the top of a mountain


*NEW!* Introduction to Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding


Introducing the newest addition to Colorado Mountain Club's fleet of snowsport educational offerings: Intro to Backcountry Skiing & Snowboard Course, brought to you by Arc'teryx Denver! We want to help our Colorado community learn the skills necessary to get started on their backcountry ski or snowboard journey! We expect so many new AT users and so many people are opting not to go to the resorts. This course is designed for those that are “new to the backcountry,” who plan to travel on AT skis, splitboards, or telemark skis. The curriculum plans to help those new users get into the backcountry and make decisions on their own that result in safe and enjoyable trips. There is a lot to know to get into the backcountry. Luckily, a lot of the safety curriculum is currently well-shared, but there are other basics (gear selection, trip planning, where to go for information) to just get outside. We'd like to thank our title sponsor, Arc'teryx Denver, for making this class happen! Special discounts, gear, and deals will be given to all students and instructors! 

Taught by some of our most experienced and dedicated backcountry ski and splitboard enthusiasts, our goal is to make this course short and memorable, providing a valuable skill of introducing new users to the backcountry ski/snowboard environment while also connecting students to fellow enthusiasts in the field. The course will consist two pointed, interactive lectures (with the option to attend in person or remote) and 1 field day (location TBD) where the students will learn hands-on skills in a backcountry environment. Additionally, the course will be providing optional, exclusive Intro-level backcountry ski and splitboard trips with trained trip leaders to give students the continued chance to enhance and practice the skills learned in the course. These trips are optional, but highly recommended.

Does this course apply to me? We aimed to create a course that would satisfy a multitude of different skill levels. This course will helps those that are brand new backcountry skiers coming from the resort who may or may not have some aspirations to continue into ski mountaineering, but are definitely interested in learning the basics of backcountry travel on mellow terrain (the meadow skippers, as you will). This course will also help those current backcountry skiers who want to develop skills and learn in a more professional setting, as well as meet new ski partners. To accomodate this broad scale of ability, we will be dividing our field day into three different levels, Level 1 encompassing our brand new backcountry users, Level 2 encompassing our users with experience, but a lack of comfortability, and Level 3 encompassing our experienced users. Our class size will be 24 students for the lectutres with an 8-person group size for the field days (3 groups of 8). 


  • This is an Intro-Level course. So, no prior backcountry ski or snowboard course work is required.
  • However, we highly recommend that you enroll in an AIARE Avalanche Level 1 course following this introduction.
  • Some Ski / Snowboard experience: you must be able to confidently ski blues and get down blacks. 

Note: This course is NOT an avalanche course. As mentioned in our prerequisite requirment, you must show proof of registration of AIARE Level 1 in order to attend this course. Assessing Avalanche Terrain is vital to backcountry travel, so these two courses truly go hand-in-hand. To find more information on CMC's avalanche program, please head over here. 



Lecture 1: Equipment and Trip Preparation

  • Gear to bring
    • Equipment participants will be using: Skis/board, skins, beacon, shovel, probe, helmet, etc.
    • How to use it
    • How to dress
    • What to bring vs. what to leave at home
  • How to pack
  • Nutrition/fuel for the day
  • Decision Making
  • Transitions
  • Things to expect on a trip
    • On snow evaluation of conditions - constant monitoring on this trip and throughout the season

Lecture 2: Planning and Fitness

  • Planning a reasonable trip based on:
    • Team
    • Objectives - tour distance / downhill route / laps etc
    • Weather
    • Fitness
    • Skiing ability
    • Access
    • Traffic
    • Backup plan!
  • Break into groups to plan Field Day 2 with a trip leader: Give location and ask students to pick a line. 
    • Provide resources in how to expand education
    • Give suggestions for beginner locations to practice 

Field Day: Co-lead trip & Practice Skills

  • Trip led by CMC trip leaders, but with heavy input from group
  • Focus on decision making, route finding skills, snow assessment by students, with input from instructors 
  • Practice pacing, skin track maintainance, uphill route selection/downhill selection
  • Group communication
  • Transition practice
  • Group wrap-up


Community Resources


Weather Resources


Information Resources


Join us for an Info Session & Gear Talk at one of our two offerings: 

Wednesday, October 21 6:00pm: Intro Gear Talk

Wednesday, November 18 6:00pm: Intro Gear Talk 


Schedule 2021:


January Session A - Click to register:

  • Wednesday, January 6 6:00pm: Session A Lecture 1
  • Wednesday, January 13 6:00pm: Session A Lecture 2
  • Saturday, January 23 6:00am: Session A Field Day

January Session A2 - Click to register:

  • Wednesday, January 20 6:00pm: Session A2 Lecture 1
  • Wednesday, January 27 6:00pm: Session A2 Lecture 2
  • Saturday, January 30 6:00am: Session A2 Field Day

February Session B - Click to register:

  • Wednesday, February 3 6:00pm: Session B Lecture 1
  • Wednesday, February 10 6:00pm: Session B Lecture 2
  • Saturday, February 20 6:00am: Session B Field Day

March Session C - Click to register:

  • Wednesday, March 10 6:00pm: Session C Lecture 1
  • Wednesday, March 17 6:00pm: Session C Lecture 2
  • Saturday, March 27 6:00am: Session C Field Day

April Session D (TBD):

  • Wednesday, April 7 6:00pm: Session D Lecture 1
  • Wednesday, April 14 6:00pm: Session D Lecture 2
  • Saturday, April 24 6:00am: Session D Field Day


We want YOU to help us instruct!

Interested in giving back to the Colorado Mountain Club community? Interested in putting your own expertise to the test, helping the up-and-coming backcountry users get their feet on the ground? Or, just interested in becoming a backcountry ski or snowboard trip leader? Join the backcountry ski and snowboard instructor and leader community! Whether you want to teach a whole session or help assist on a field day, this course is sure to be an absolute blast for student and instructor alike! Interested? Join us for the Wednesday, December 2 6:00pm Trip Leader and Instructor Chat. Questions? Email to learn more!