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Backcountry Basics: Intro to Backcountry (2.5 day event)

Registration for all Mountain Festival events close 48 hours ahead of time. Participants for each event are emailed at this time with tour location, etc. Please remember that all events are held in and around North Lake Tahoe but exact specifics will be shared 48 hours ahead of time to assess snow quality and safety.

February 23 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every day that begins at 8:00 am, repeating until February 22, 2020

An event every day that begins at 8:00 am, repeating until February 23, 2020

Available 0 Refundable Deposit $100


Alpenglow Expeditions
1985 Squaw Valley Rd #23
Olympic Valley, CA 96146 United States
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Led By:


A new and exciting addition to Mountain Festival is a special two-and-a-half day “Intro to Backcountry,” provided by Alpenglow Expeditions, the premier guiding outfit in California. The goal of this consecutive day course is to prepare the participant for an AIARE 1 course, give beginners multi-layered instruction on the below backcountry topics and prepare them to become confident, educated and self-sufficient backcountry travelers. Please note that to register for this event you must attend all two-and-a-half days (Friday, February 21st through Sunday, February 23rd).
1) how to correctly use backcountry touring equipment, both in a controlled classroom environment and then in the field
2) how to correctly pack a backcountry pack, store climbing skins, and wear an avalanche beacon harness, both in a classroom setting and then in the field
3) how to adhere climbing skins to skis/boards, as well as overall skinning technique
4) how to safely establish an uphill track …. and where to descend for overall safety
5) how group decision making can hurt or benefit safe decision making in the backcountry
6) basic instruction for how to read the Sierra Avalanche Center forecast … and then look for the reported issues in the field
7) basic snowpack analysis

The course itinerary is as follows:

Day 1: Equipment overview at the Alpenglow Expeditions classroom in Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and how to plan the next day’s tour as a group
Day 2: Beginner backcountry tour where the lessons from the previous evening will be put to the test.
Day 3: Addtional beginner backcountry tour with a course summary and debrief.

Please note that the beginner tours are geared for skiers/riders who have all the needed equipment for touring but have done so less than 5 times.

Additionally, please note that this course is NOT for beginner resort skiers/riders and you should be an advanced resort skier/rider before pursuing backcountry travel. We define an advanced resort skier/rider as someone who can confidently descend OFF PISTE black diamond terrain (note NOT just a black diamond groomer). Please also note that we ask ONLY beginner backcountry skiers register for this type of tour (ie not intermediate or advanced skiers/riders). In the interest of fairness to the group, we ask that you abide by these mandates, as well as those spelled out in the equipment and physical requirements section.

If you have questions about your ability or are concerned if you qualify, please call the shop at (530) 583-6917 and talk to Brendan or Jeff. Additionally, we see many beginners register for tours on successive days, which we STRONGLY discourage. Backcountry travel is extremely challenging and we’ve found that beginners who may not be used to the phsyical demands tend to suffer or drop out on successive day tours. Please respect the group dynamic and the free nature of the event so that everyone can enjoy the process!

Discounted demo equipment will be made available to registered participants via email by mid January. Please no snowshoes, metal-edge (fish-scale) touring equipment, or dogs.

Mountain Festival Backcountry Basics workshops are designed to give beginners and intermediates a comfortable, safe and educational introduction into what it means to be a responsible backcountry skier/rider. There are several types of Backcountry Basics workshops: some are 100% classroom-based, some have a mix of classroom and field components and some are conducted 100% in the field during while short mini-tours.

While jumping directly into a beginner tour is perhaps more glamorous than an educational workshop, we feel strongly that beginner and intermediate backcountry skiers and riders need a solid foundational skill set BEFORE heading into the field. At Mountain Festival, our goal is to make sure that beginners and intermediates have an opportunity to build the requisite skill set in order to be responsible, safe and efficient backcountry travelers. Please note that Backcountry Basics workshops are significantly different than a beginner tour. Those new to the sport are STRONGLY encouraged to register for Backcountry Basics workshops BEFORE joining any beginner tour.

In addition to the skill development component of our Backcountry Basics workshops, we also feel strongly about educating those new to the sport about issues that transcends in-the-field skills, namely namely leave-no-trace ethics, skin track AND parking etiquette, human-powered access issues, climate change and more. Not only will you depart a Backcountry Basics workshop with an enhanced skill set, you will be made aware of some very pressing issues affecting the backcountry landscape in Lake Tahoe.

Equipment Requirements:

  • Backcountry Ski/Splitboard Touring Equipment
  • Avalanche Safety Items: Beacon, Shovel, Probe

Physical Requirements:

  • Ability to confidently descend "black diamond" OFF PISTE (note: NOT just a groomer) terrain at a ski resort.
  • Strong physical condition and ability to comfortably hike uphill for over 2,000 vertical feet.
  • Participants must be prepared for 5-6 hours in the field.


Sponsored by Alpenglow Expeditions

*PLEASE NOTE! In the spirit of inclusivity we are limiting participants to four tours. This does not include workshops, Backcountry Basics, etc. Registration for most events requires a deposit, which varies from $25-$100, that is refunded upon participation. Cancellations are not allowed after February 1st and all calendar adjustments prior to February 1st are subject to a $10 adjustment fee. Any excess garnered from the cancellation policy will be donated to Protect Our Winters and the Tahoe Backcountry Alliance.

**Please also note that you will be sent a complete equipment list for each individual event by the middle of January. Additionally, if you have registered for any backcountry tour you will be contacted 72 hours prior to the tour with the exact location. This is irrelevant if your chosen tour stipulates a location, but for others we want to assess the snow and avalanche conditions for others closer to the event. The goal is to show you the best time possible which requires a decision closer to each tour.


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