Mad River Glen Backcountry Program
This year, Mad River Glen launches a Backcountry Program, allowing participants aged 14-19, to take their existing downhill ski skills into the backcountry. Backcountry skiing has seen a ten-fold increase in popularity over the past decade and it’s no surprise why: whether it’s seen as a way to keep fit, explore nature, discover untouched powder lines, or travel efficiently through mountain terrain, going backcountry offers a range of rewards to skiers.
But those rewards are not without risks and challenges. Navigation, avalanches, weather, and remote terrain are just a few of the twists that backcountry skiing adds to the traditional ski environment. The newly launched Backcountry Program is designed to provide participants with the tools, skills, and mindset necessary to maximize those rewards. This year, the BC Program will run for a total of 4 Sunday sessions. Each session will welcome new skiers into the world of backcountry in groups of six or less. We’ll start from the ground up, beginning with equipment familiarization and packing and preparing for safe and successful experiences, then moving onto the trails to look at effective “uphill technique,” including efficient striding, gliding, and kick-turning our way to the top. Then we’ll “rip skins” (removing the traction from the bottom of the skis) and get set for the downhill, covering safety pointers for traveling in terrain that is remote and where avalanches are possible.
In the coming years, the Backcountry Program will further develop the skills of those skiers who catch “the backcountry bug.” We envision that the program will be an 8-12 week progression. This longer format will allow for a curriculum targeted towards four areas: 1) Navigation, tour planning, and preparation, 2) Avalanche awareness, 3) Backcountry-specific ski skills, and 4) Ski mountaineering training. The navigation, tour planning, and preparation component will utilize classic tools like compasses and modern online mapping tools to “stay found” in the backcountry. We’ll also look at repair kits, first-aid kits, and backcountry-specific packing considerations. Avalanche awareness will introduce skiers to the fundamentals of staying on top of the snow while in the backcountry, getting them set for future success with the 3-day avalanche safety course that should be a part of every backcountry skiers progression. Backcountry-specific ski skills will include a range of techniques including transitioning from uphill to downhill skiing, utilizing ski crampons, tackling challenges associated with variable snow conditions, and much more. The ski mountaineering component will introduce skiers to mountain tools like boot crampons and ice axes and how to safely utilize those tools to access steep, mountainous terrain. Taken in total, skiers will come away from this skills progression with a toolkit for moving forward, upward, and downward in their own backcountry skiing pursuits!
MRG’s Backcountry Programs will be led by Kel Rossiter. Kel holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and is an IFMGA Certified Mountain Guide. The IFMGA Certified Mountain Guide training process takes several years and it is the highest level of training and certification possible in mountain guiding; to date, less than 175 American guides hold this certification. Beyond these qualifications, Kel brings an enthusiastic and engaging instructional style to his teaching. You can learn more about Kel’s qualifications and qualities at this link to his guide operation’s website.
Backcountry skiing continues to gain momentum in the mountain landscape and it is increasingly being seen as an essential arrow in the well-rounded skier’s quiver. We’re very excited to be offering this development opportunity to MRG’s skiers. Thank you!
Program Dates: February 13th, 20th & 27th
Cost: $89.00/ day
Ages: 14 – 19
Limited BC rental skis are available from the Rental Shop
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