Backcountry Skills Course

Excited to ski the backcountry but don’t know where to begin? This course is for you!

Are you a resort skier looking to get outside the boundaries? Using a combination of field-based learning and indoor presentations, we’ll cover trip planning, avalanche safety and companion rescue, backcountry equipment use and repair, as well as uphill and downhill ski/travel techniques.

The Williams Peak Hut in the heart of the Sawtooth Range provides an ideal venue for this course. Inspired by the stunning backdrop, you can explore a variety of ski terrain while learning backcountry ski skills and techniques from instructors who are passionate about the sport. While learning and skill development are the theme of the course, we won’t forget to have fun, ski powder, and soak in the spectacular alpine ambiance of the snow-covered Sawtooths!


Read trip reports from previous Backcountry Skills Courses:

 Day 1

  • Welcome and course overview
  • Intro to backcountry skiing equipment
  • Trailhead beacon checks
  • Avalanche safety and the avalanche bulletin
  • Fundamentals of avalanche rescue

Day 2

  • Trip planning
  • Field ski tour:
    • Uphill travel techniques
    • Transitions
    • Avalanche safety in the field
    • Downhill ski techniques
  • Avalanche rescue scenarios
  • Evening sessions:
    • What’s in your pack?
    • Gear troubleshooting and repair
    • Optional: rescue sled, emergency shelter, map skills

Day 3

  • Trip planning practice in small groups
  • Field ski tour: putting it all together
  • Course ends 4:30pm

 Difficulty: Good fitness, intermediate downhill ski skills

 Duration: 3 days

 Meeting Time: 8am

 Meeting Location: Sawtooth Mountain Guides Headquarters in Stanley

 What We Provide:

  • Avalanche rescue equipment
  • All food (we will ask you to carry a small 5-10L bag of food to the hut)
  • 2 nights at the William Peak Hut
    • Sleeping bags at the hut – we will provide a compact sleeping bag liner for you to carry in

 What You Need:


  • Hut-based courses for the 2020-21 winter season have been cancelled due to COVID-19

Ratio: 5:1

 Rates: $650/person