Please review all training information to get a full sense of what type of condition and ability you need to be in for this backcountry course. For those who have not specifically trained for mountaineering and backcountry skiing/riding  in the past,  we recommend using a targeted training plan to help you prepare.

Books to consider:
Training for the Uphill Athlete: A Manual for Mountain Runners and Ski Mountaineerby Steve House and Scott Johnston

Personal trainers that are familiar with the demands of backcountry skiing / riding are highly recommended as they can create personal training plans utilizing both indoor and outdoor locations with long range objectives and criteria. Trainers and training programs can help build a program based on your location, access to gyms, and outdoor training venues.

For those who have not trained for backcountry skiing / riding or want to refine their training with some industry professionals, we recommend:

Steve House and staff at the Uphill Athlete

Preparation for Traveling in the Backcountry

Prioritize your training efforts in the following way, assuming that you are in good health and injury-free:

Backcountry skiing and snowboarding requires a higher degree of fitness.  We can accommodate each day of touring to your level of fitness, but the more you prepare, the more you will enjoy the course.  Typical days of touring are between 2,500 – 4,000 vertical feet of climbing up and skiing / riding down.  Please let us know if you have any questions about your fitness or training for backcountry skiing / riding.

  • Strength training – for the lower and upper body
  • Cardiovascular training – including both aerobic and anaerobic workouts
  • Flexibility training

Skiing and Riding in the Backcountry

While it is important to have a high degree of fitness, it is vital that participants are familiar with downhill skiing or snowboarding skills.  Participants don’t need to be advanced riders, but the more experienced you are at skiing or snowboarding, the more fun you’ll have.   Participants should feel very comfortable on blue runs and be able to get down black diamond runs. Prior experience skiing off-piste (terrain that’s off groomed trails) will pay dividends in the backcountry where snow conditions can vary greatly.   You may encounter deep snow, bumps, steep slopes, chutes, and crud in a single run!   If you are still working on basic ski techniques, we recommend taking a lesson at a ski resort before venturing out in the backcountry.

If you are new to backcountry touring, please make sure you are familiar with your gear prior to coming to the course.  We strongly recommend practicing with your equipment at a ski area.

  • Make sure your climbing skins fit your skis or splitboard and are properly trimmed.
  • Orient yourself to the tip and tail hardware of the skins and ensure they are adjusted to the right length.
  • Try putting on your climbing skins on your skis / splitboard and ripping them off several times to get the hang of it.
  • Practice switching your bindings from ski mode to tour mode and back again.
  • Unlock the walking hinge on your boots and practice skinning, aiming for a smooth and rhythmic slide.
  • Try using your heel risers in every setting and practice adjusting them smoothly with your ski pole.

We are happy to help you learn the techniques and skills to be a competent backcountry traveler, but we want to make sure you get the most of your day and don’t get bogged down in the details of using your equipment.

Feel free to give us a call at 206-378-1927 if you are unsure about your skiing / riding ability.

I recently got into backcountry skiing and I’m hooked!

backcountry ski d
Photo Credit: Ruby Mountain Heli


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