Intro to Backcountry in Tahoe

Get up to speed in the backcountry with Intro to Backcountry. It's a fun and fast way to learn the basics so you can get out, get up and rip down the backcountry lines you’ve been dreaming of. From gear management to setting a proper skin track, our guides will help you get comfortable earning your turns.
Overview
Itinerary
Prerequisites
Inclusions
Gear

We'll cover the following topics and skills:

  • How to find the best mountain weather forecast for your day's objective
  • How to find and understand the Avalanche Advisory for the day
  • How to perform a trailhead transceiver check
  • Fundamentals of using your touring gear, whether you're using alpine touring skis or a splitboard
  • How to apply, maintain and store climbing skins
  • Techniques for efficient skinning and track setting
  • Basics of backcountry navigation
  • Basics of avalanche rescue tools

  • 8:00am - Meet your guide in the field at the designated trailhead

  • 8:15am - Review avalanche hazard rating, gear check, trailhead departure check

  • 8:45am - Begin the course / tour - with lessons and teachable moments along the way

  • 12pm - Lunch on the go

  • 3:30 - Finish tour at the trailhead. Debrief of the day and discuss strengths, areas for improvement, goals, and next steps in your backcountry progression.

Here are the skills and fitness you'll need for your course:

  • This is an introductory program - No ski touring / splitboarding experience is required!

  • Advanced Resort Riding skills - Including off-piste terrain in challenging snow conditions

  • Basic Fitness - Able to spend an active day outside, moving uphill at 1,000’ per hour for durations of roughly 1 hour between breaks. Participants should be able to hike 3-5 miles and climb 1,000-1,500 vertical feet throughout the course of the day.

  • Ski/Split Touring & Avalanche Gear - Come prepared with your own gear or rent from us
Shop Recommended Gear OR Visit our Rentals Page

Here's what's included with your course:

  • Experienced AMGA/AIARE Trained Guide
  • Tahoe or Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Permit
  • Group Safety Gear - Snow Science, First Aid Kits
  • Wag Bags - for human waste disposal, in compliance 'Leave No Trace' principles
Not Included
  • Ski/Splitboard Gear
  • Avalanche Gear
  • Transportation
  • Meals
  • Winter Parking Passes
  • Guide Gratuities

Tahoe Backcountry Skiing Gear List


Know Before you go

SKILL LEVELBeginner
ELEVATION6,000’-9,000’
LocationTahoe

Price/Person $250.00
Private Programs
Duration: 1 Day
View Full Itinerary
Private Programs

Blackbird Mountain Guides offers both scheduled group programs and private programs.

Private programs are simply above and beyond what Blackbird Mountain Guides currently has scheduled. Scheduled courses are not always less expensive. Before booking a trip with Blackbird Mountain Guides, clients are encouraged to review the differences between these types of programs, and to decide what works best for them.

SCHEDULED PROGRAMS

Scheduled Programs have fixed dates, itineraries, objectives, curriculum, and costs. They typically appeal to solo individuals or small groups or who are looking to share the cost of their program with a larger group. Correspondingly, scheduled programs are less expensive for smaller groups (1-2), and they provide the opportunity to meet others with similar interests. If you have a large group (3+), Scheduled programs will often be more expensive. They can fill up quickly, and scheduling flexibility is obviously limited.

Scheduled programs will have advertised dates. All scheduled programs can be run as private programs with private dates/rates as well.

PRIVATE PROGRAMS

Private programs have scheduling freedom. They typically appeal to those who would like some flexibility in planning their own trip or course. In this regard, Itineraries and objectives can be tailored to suit current conditions as well as client goals. Private programs are normally less expensive for larger groups (3+). If you have a small group (1-2) private programs will be more expensive.

Contact us
Full Itinerary

8:00am Meet your guide in the field at the designated trailhead. 

The venue will be in the Truckee / North Lake Tahoe area and most likely venues are Castle Peak, Johnson Canyon or Donner Summit. These are excellent zones to learn the fundamental skills you'll need to explore the backcountry with ease and efficiency. 

During this meeting your guide will discuss: 

  • The avalanche hazard rating for the day and our plan for managing that hazard. The Sierra Avalanche Center provides a daily avalanche forecast and we'll discuss concerns for the day, our intended route and observations we'll make along the way to keep tabs on the conditions.
  • Gear Check.  We'll do a quick gear check to make sure everyone has the appropriate layers, gear, and food and water for the day. Make sure you consult the gear list and bring everything listed! Conditions can change quickly and the weather in the mountains is significantly different from town in Truckee. If in doubt, bring an assortment of gear and your guide can help you select the best items for the conditions at hand!
  • Trailhead departure check. In the backcountry, each trip begins with a quick checklist to make sure everyone has the proper avalanche safety equipment and rescue gear to respond in the event of an emergency.  As part of this check, your guide will walk the group through a transceiver check to make sure everyone's beacon is functioning properly.

8:45 Begin the Tour, with lessons and teachable moments along the way.

You'll start off on the route described by your guide. Your guide will find appropriate areas to broach backcountry skills, lessons and observations including:

  • Navigation and route planning
  • Skinning technique: the mechanics of efficient skinning and body position
  • Skin track setting, including making rounded, A-V-A and kick turns
  • Relevant observations of snowpack and weather that inform us on where we can find the best ski quality and avoid avalanche conditions
  • Discussion of descent options
  • Travel techniques including sticking together, spreading out, skiing one at a time, skiing together and how to find good places to stop while other team members are skiing

3:30 Wrap up the tour at the trailhead.

We'll close out our program with a debrief of the day and some memorable lessons learned to help solidify the knowledge gained throughout the day.  We'll also talk about next steps for everyone in their backcountry progressions. We close all of our programs well before sunset to provide a margin of safety to get everyone back to the trailhead before dark.

We'll cover the following topics and skills:

  • How to find the best mountain weather forecast for your day's objective
  • How to find and understand the Avalanche Advisory for the day
  • How to perform a trailhead transceiver check
  • Fundamentals of using your touring gear, whether you're using alpine touring skis or a splitboard
  • How to apply, maintain and store climbing skins
  • Techniques for efficient skinning and track setting
  • Basics of backcountry navigation
  • Basics of avalanche rescue tools

  • 8:00am - Meet your guide in the field at the designated trailhead

  • 8:15am - Review avalanche hazard rating, gear check, trailhead departure check

  • 8:45am - Begin the course / tour - with lessons and teachable moments along the way

  • 12pm - Lunch on the go

  • 3:30 - Finish tour at the trailhead. Debrief of the day and discuss strengths, areas for improvement, goals, and next steps in your backcountry progression.

Here are the skills and fitness you'll need for your course:

  • This is an introductory program - No ski touring / splitboarding experience is required!

  • Advanced Resort Riding skills - Including off-piste terrain in challenging snow conditions

  • Basic Fitness - Able to spend an active day outside, moving uphill at 1,000’ per hour for durations of roughly 1 hour between breaks. Participants should be able to hike 3-5 miles and climb 1,000-1,500 vertical feet throughout the course of the day.

  • Ski/Split Touring & Avalanche Gear - Come prepared with your own gear or rent from us
Shop Recommended Gear OR Visit our Rentals Page

Here's what's included with your course:

  • Experienced AMGA/AIARE Trained Guide
  • Tahoe or Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Permit
  • Group Safety Gear - Snow Science, First Aid Kits
  • Wag Bags - for human waste disposal, in compliance 'Leave No Trace' principles
Not Included
  • Ski/Splitboard Gear
  • Avalanche Gear
  • Transportation
  • Meals
  • Winter Parking Passes
  • Guide Gratuities

Tahoe Backcountry Skiing Gear List

Book Now
Select Dates:
Spots to Book:

Epic Reviews From Adventurers

9 reviews
  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars
    Great skills coaching!

    Guide John Littleton took great care of a pair of us, one new to AT; super local beta and good skills coaching. Plus just a really nice guy!!

    Neil M.
    Flag of United States
  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars
    Couldn't recommend more!

    The most important thing for a trip like this is going with someone knowledgeable and experienced. I give them 10/10. I have done 2 trips with BBMG, and I am blown away by their level of knowledge of the terrain and conditions. They are also great to be with. They are incredibly patient and helpful and make being outside with them enjoyable. They are also fun to spend time with around the fire at the end of the day. I couldn't recommend them more highly.

    Matthew G.
    Flag of United States
  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars
    Great intro

    My guide Mike Henry was fantastic and I had a really fun day out!

    Betty C.
    Verified Buyer
  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars
    Extremely friendly, relaxed & knowledgeable!

    My husband and I took an Intro to backcountry skiing course with Blackbird Mountain guides in January 2022. We are both experienced resort skier / boarder, but are a bit nervous and inexperienced in backcountry terrain and deeper snow. So taking this course with Zeb was the best decision! He was extremely friendly, relaxed and knowledgeable and answered all our questions with great patience. He also showed us great and various terrain, explained weather conditions, the importance of aspects and how to navigate in an unknown area. We had a deep powder experience as well as a California dreaming experience on low-angled sunny slopes, which both was so much fun! Highly recommend booking with Blackbird Mountain Guides!

    Annelie A.
    Flag of United States
Reviews LoadedReviews Added

the blackbird difference

Innovative courses

Professional Guides

Positive Progression

Community Focused

ongoing support

Got Questions?

We’re here to help. Our FAQs or Gear Lists might have the information you’re seeking. But If you’re not finding the information you need, we’d be happy to help!