Washington Intro to Backcountry
Taking the leap from resort riding to exploring the backcountry? You're in the right place! Blackbird's Intro to Backcountry program is built for skiers and riders who want to learn the basics of backcountry travel without floundering around. Our expert guides will dial you in on the gear, techniques and safety tips to have you up to speed in no time! We offer options at Mt Baker and at Snoqualmie Pass.
- 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 split board. If you're travelling on snowshoes, contact us here and we can get you sorted out with a great setup to make your trip the best it can be! We'll discuss how to use your gear at the onset of the trip and talk about the pros and cons of different setups throughout the day as we travel.
- How to apply, maintain and store climbing skins.
- Techniques for efficient skinning and track setting.
- Basics of backcountry navigation
- Basics of avalanche rescue tools
The Intro to Backcountry program is for riders with little to no backcountry experience but advanced resort riding skills. The "wild snow" of the backcountry can be tricky and many riders don't get to experience these untamed conditions at the resort. Breakable crust, wind slabs, sticky "hot pow", and deep powder are all snow conditions that are somewhat rare to find at resorts (for better or worse!) and they require higher levels of skill to manage effectively. We want everyone to have a great experience on our programs, so we kindly request your riding skills meet the demands of the snow. Contact us if you're unsure and we can help you figure it out!
Contact Us Here to Schedule Custom Dates for your group on an Intro to Backcountry Course today!
PricesSee sidebar for current pricing.
8:00am Meet your guide in the field at the designated trailhead.
The venue will be in Mt Baker or Snoqualmie Pass. 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 Northwest 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. 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.
Backcountry Touring Gear
❏ Alpine Touring Skis or Splitboard - Light to Midweight Setup with “Tech Bindings”
❏ Alpine Touring Boots or Splitboard Compatible Boots; Scarpa F1
❏ Climbing Skins - Mohair Mix is Best; Black Diamond GlideLite Mohair Mix,
❏ Touring Backpack - A Pack with Avalanche Tools Pocket; BD Cirque 35
❏ Ski Poles - Lightweight, Adjustable Poles with Baskets; BD Expedition 3 Poles
❏ Ski Helmet - Lightweight S
❏ Avalanche Beacon - Digital Avalanche Transceiver; Black Diamond Guide Recon BT
❏ Avalanche Shovel - Collapsible, Aluminum Shovel; Backcountry Access BT2 Shovel
❏ Avalanche Probe - Quickdraw Style Probe; Backcountry Access Stealth 300
Head and Neck Layers
❏ Sun Hat - A Baseball Hat; Blackbird Mountain Guides Logo Hat
❏ Sunglasses - Dark Lens Glasses with Side Coverage; Julbo Shield
❏ Goggles - Ski Goggles with a Storm Lens; Julbo Aerospace Reactive
❏ Warm Hat - Lightweight Warm Hat that Fits Under Your Helmet;
❏ Neck Gaiters - Light to Midweight Neck Gaiters; Buff or your favorite Face Masks
***These Are Required as Covid-19 Face Coverings
Upper Body and Hand Layers
❏ Long Sleeve Base Layer - Lightweight, Synthetic/Wool; Patagonia SunHoody
❏ 2 Insulating Top Layers - Light to Midweight Insulation Layers; Patagonia R1 & Nano Air
❏ Puffy - Midweight Down or Synthetic with Hood; Patagonia Fitzroy or similar
❏ Hardshell Jacket, Hooded - Waterproof, Gore-Tex, NOT insulated; Arc’Teryx Alpha FL
❏ Light Gloves - Light to Mid Weight for Warm Temps; Flylow John Henry Gloves, BD Tour
❏ Midweight Gloves - Mid to Heavy Weight for Cold Conditions; BD Legend
❏ Sports Bra - Wool/Synthetic;
Lower Body and Foot Layers
❏ Socks - Midweight Wool/Synthetic; Darn Tough Via Ferrata
❏ Underwear - Wool/Synthetic
❏ Long Underwear - Wool/Synthetic “Long Johns”; Patagonia Capilene Air
❏ Softshell Ski Pants - Breathable, Weather Resistant for Fair Weather; OR Trailbreaker II
❏ Vented Hardshell Ski Pants - Waterproof Pants for Extreme Weather; Flylow Compound
Food and Water
❏ Nalgene Water Bottle - Hard Sided Bottle; Nalgene 16oz-32oz Wide Mouth Bottle
❏ Soft Water Bottle 1.5L - Flexible Water Bladder; Hydrapak Flux 1.5L
***Please bring at least one hard sided water bottle.
❏ Snacks - Enough Snacks for the Day. There will be no lunch break so snacks must be
convenient and easy to eat.
❏ Sun Screen (SPF 30 minimum)
❏ Lip Balm (with SPF)
❏ Hand Sanitizer
❏ Toilet Paper
❏ First Aid/blister Kit
❏ Chemical Hand Warmers
❏ Hydration System - Flexible Water Bladder with Hose; Hydrapak, Camelback, Platypus
Blackbird Mountain Guides will supply all of the group gear for the trip, including:
✓ Guide’s First Aid Kits
✓ Wag Bags (Solid Human Waste Disposal Bags)
✓ Snow Observation Equipment (Snowsaws, Loops, Crystal Cards, Etc)
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