Backcountry Skiing Leadership

Backcountry Skiing Leadership

In-Depth Ski Touring Instruction

Backcountry Skiing

After completing our Level 1 Avalanche Course, many of our participants ask us – “What’s next?”. For those interested in furthering their backcountry skiing skill set, we have designed our 2 Day Backcountry Skiing Leadership Course with the Level 1 Avy Course graduate in mind.

Many backcountry skiers wisely take at least a year or two to complete their Level 2 Avalanche Course. We wanted to design a course that would further the knowledge acquired in the Level 1 Course and expand specifically on critically important ski touring skills that make the difference in the backcountry when combined with sound decision-making skills.

From planning a tour at home with your maps, gps, ski gear, and other associated tools – to the more refined elements of terrain selection, micro route finding, and downhill skiing techniques in the backcountry, this course will prepare you well to successfully execute a rewarding backcountry ski tour on your own. Come and join us for a truly unforgettable course that will impress upon you just how incredibly fun it is to be out in the wilderness on your skis!

  • This course is based out of Ouray, CO, but we can also arrange for hut-based courses for private groups or individuals if you would like to integrate the convenience and comfort of a high mountain hut.
Backcountry Skiing

The Progression

We will cover the latest techniques in all aspects of backcountry travel including, but not limited to the following topics:

  • Downhill Powder snow skiing techniques
  • Advanced uphill skinning techniques
  • Trip leader tour kit
  • Advanced tour selection and planning
  • Group leadership and team dynamics
  • and much, much more!

I have had the privilege to enjoy a number of excellent backcountry skiing adventures. The team a SJMG rank right at the top of the list. Their helpful, professional attitude and passion for sharing an exceptional backcountry experience put them right at the top of my list. Many thanks to Nate and the team at SJMG. – Doug C. Backcountry Ski Leadership, February 2017


Call 800.642.5389 to Reserve

Register Now Online

BC Skiing Leadership Itinerary


Backcountry Skiing

Day 1

Meet at the SJMG office at 0730 and we then drive to the San Juan Mountains to begin the day’s instruction focusing on the topics listed in the previous tab. Full day ski tour near Silverton/Red Mountain pass. Return to Ouray in the afternoon for a comprehensive trip and tour planning session focused on the following day’s tour objective.

Day 2

Meet at the SJMG office at 0730 and we then drive to the San Juan Mountains for a full day ski tour in the Red Mountain Pass area.  Participants will be expected to lead the tour at various stages during the day under the supervision of our guides. We want you to be out front, in a leadership role so that you gain valuable experience evaluating route choices, snow conditions, and pace/time management.

Backcountry Skiing Equipment List

  • Day-Tour Backpack: internal frame, 25-40 liters.
  • Touring Skis or Splitboard: skis with alpine-touring or telemark bindings.
  • Ski or Snowboard Boots
  • Poles: preferably adjustable.
  • Climbing Skins
  • Avalanche Transceiver: with fresh batteries.
  • Probe
  • Avy Shovel: metal blade is a must.
  • Ski Repair Kit
  • Ski Helmet
  • Goggles


  • Socks: wool or synthetic ski socks.
  • Base Layers: polyester, wool or silk bottom and top.
  • Mid-Weight Top: for layering purposes.
  • Shell Pants: hard shell or soft shell. A pair with side vents are best.
  • Insulated Vest: down or synthetic, for extra core warmth.
  • Soft Shell Jacket: Schoeller fabric or similar.
  • Hard Shell Jacket: waterproof and breathable, no insulation.
  • Gloves: a pair of heavy gloves, a pair of medium weight gloves, and a light pair of gloves
  • Down Jacket or Insulated Parka: preferably with an integrated hood.
  • Hats: one with brim, one for warmth
  • Neck Gaiter, BUFF or Balaclava
  • Sunglasses

Other Stuff

  • Small Thermos: optional, but nice to have.
  • Water Bottles: 2 liters
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm: water/sweat-proof
  • Headlamp
  • Personal First Aid Kit: for your personal meds/needs; guide will have a large one as well.
  • Camera
  • Lunch Food & Snacks: Everything you eat between breakfast and dinner. May include: bagels, dried meats, cheese, trail mix, candy bars, peanut butter, etc…


Participants should feel competent and comfortable on “Blue” rated runs at ski resorts. Participants should also be in excellent physical condition. We recommend that participants arrive in Durango at least 1 full day prior to traveling with us in the San Juan high country.

1Before Your Trip

Backcountry Skiing

Skiing and/or squats: do it. Cardiovascular activities such as running, swimming, and cycling are great to build heart and lung endurance. Taking day hikes with your loaded backpack at a local park will help train your legs for the mileage you will do in the mountains.

2Follow Up Programs

We very much enjoyed our time in Ouray! The private 2-day climbing program was impressive. Our guide, Mark, was/is an excellent teacher. He took the time to build the skills for each of us, listened to the concerns and course corrected to ensure we were achieving what we wanted to achieve. Basically, Mark rocks! We look forward to coming back. – J. Bowers, 2011 Private Program

Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here

Ouray is located in the SW corner of Colorado, approximately 30 minutes south of Montrose. Known as “The Switzerland of America”, the town of Ouray is a vibrant outdoor oriented community. All local businesses are very friendly to the ice climbers who flock each winter to climb in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding areas.

View Larger Map

Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Montrose, CO. Many airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, CO. It is also possible to fly into Durango, CO, Telluride, CO, or Albuquerque, NM. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of either of these airports.

Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Ouray. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.

  • Montrose, CO: 45 mins
  • Durango, CO: 2 hours
  • Denver, CO: 6 hours
  • Albuquerque, NM: 4.5 hours
  • Salt Lake City, UT: 6 hours

Hotels: Ouray has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suit you best for this trip!


Additional Information

  • Cost Includes:
Backcountry Skiing
  • Guiding and instruction with an AMGA Certified
  • Avalanche probe, shovel, and beacon,
  • Boots, skis, and climbing skins are available for rent from our shop for an additional cost.

  • Not Included:
  • Hotel costs before, during or after the courses
  • 5% land use surcharge
  • trip cancellation insurance
  • personal climbing & skiing equipment
  • Guide gratuity

  • Registration and Cancellation:
  • Advance Registration is required for this program.  You have the option to either call our office and register via phone, fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email, or utilize our secure Online Reservation System.  All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.

Call 800.642.5389 to Reserve

Register Now Online


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