Newcomers’ Guide to Backcountry Skiing in BC

Share  Facebook Twitter

Guest post by Mark Sissons

BC’s backcountry offers plenty of opportunities for adventurous skiers and riders to explore the powdery bowls, glades, glaciers, and terrain that make this province so legendary. Happily, you don’t have to be an expert heli- or cat-skier on a big multi-day budget to fully embrace the magic of reaching rugged, untouched wilderness. More affordable, less intimidating backcountry experiences are also widely available at or near many of BC’s ski resorts. Here are some ways to get out and play in the snow this season.

Learn Safety Skills

Start with an introductory avalanche skills-training course offering essential preparation for safe backcountry travel. Learn how to read snow conditions and what to do in an emergency by attending a course certified by the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA). Most major resorts offer avalanche education, including Whitewater Ski ResortKicking Horse Mountain ResortRevelstoke Mountain Resort, and Whistler Blackcomb.

Go to Camp

<em>Learn the skills you need for safe backcountry travel with the new All Mountain Skills Camp offered at Sun Peaks Resort.

Learn the skills you need for safe backcountry travel with the new All Mountain Skills Camp offered at Sun Peaks Resort. Photo: Adam Stein

Hone your off-piste skiing skills and learn to safely access backcountry terrain with a professionally certified guide at an All Mountain Skills Camp held at Sun Peaks Resort. Or boost your confidence with backcountry clinics from Whistler Blackcomb-based Extremely Canadian. Some backcountry camps cater exclusively to women, like Revelstoke’s Girls Do Ski, which offers a range of ski-touring camps, from introductory to advanced.

Take a Tour

Earn your turns under the tutelage of seasoned guides who can tailor the route to your abilities and show you where to find the deepest ‘pow’ and best mountain views. Venture into the heart of the Selkirk, Monashee, and Purcell mountains with Summit Mountain Guides in search of first tracks through champagne powder. Or choose your own adventure with Powder Guides, who offer ski-touring options based out of Whistler that last one day to one week.

Ride a Cat

$10 cat-skiing at RED Mountain Resort.

$10 cat-skiing at RED Mountain Resort. Photo: Eric Kalacis/RED Mountain Resort

Carve graceful turns into the powder-packed faces of pristine mountain peaks without breaking the bank. Operators like Valhalla PowdercatsCariboo Snowcat Skiing, and Fernie Wilderness Adventures offer affordable single-day cat-skiing trips suitable for strong intermediate and advanced skiers. At RED Mountain Resort near Rossland, you can ride the snowcat to fresh vertical just beyond the chairlift for $10 per run.

Have a Heli Day

Heli-assisted ski touring with Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing in Revelstoke.

Heli-assisted ski touring with Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing in Revelstoke. Photo: Bruno Long

Sign up for a heli-assisted ski-touring adventure with Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing and enjoy a full day of touring with a certified guide in the Selkirk Mountains. Or get a taste of the kind of seriously steep and deep, virgin terrain that nearby resort-bound skiers can only dream of, courtesy of popular operators like Whistler Heliskiing and RK Heliski, near Panorama Mountain Resort.

Check out BC’s ski resort map to start planning your next ski adventure.

Opening image: Ski touring to the Asulkan Cabin in Rogers Pass. Photo: Katie Marti