Backcountry Skiing and Split-Boarding through the ACC Calgary Section

Last updated on Feb 8, 2024

The ACC Calgary Ski & Splitboard Committee support backcountry ski & split board activities within the club, as well as touring or cross country ski trips.  Our focus is on providing members opportunities to get out backcountry skiing and to develop their skills so they can ski safely in the backcountry.  Section trip leaders post a variety of trips, including day trips and multi-day winter camping or hut based trips as well as lodge-based trips.  These trips are open to all section members who have completed AST1 and can ski at a level sufficient for the trip.  The BITS program offers a chance for skiers new to the backcountry to learn from experienced members, and the committee collaborates with the Training & Leadership Committee to offer guided courses at various levels such as AST1 & 2, ski mountaineering, ski leadership & crevasse rescue.

Note that unaccompanied minors (those not yet 19 at the time of the trip) are not permitted on backcountry ski trips, or any trips in avalanche terrain.  Minors may be permitted on trips where a parent/guardian is present at the discretion of the trip leader.  In this instance, the parent must also sign the ACMG Consent of Minor Release Waiver available on the ACC national website:

BITS (Intro to Backcountry Skiing Program, January – March)

Backcountry Intro to Skiing (BITS) is a volunteer-led mentorship program that provides new backcountry skiers to get experience in the backcountry.   The program includes an online session in December and three one-day trips with experienced section  leaders in January – early March.  Skills covered include packing for trips, trip planning, terrain assessment, transceiver skills, avalanche safety and backcountry specific skill/split skills.  The program is open to all Calgary section members who are comfortable skiing blue runs at resorts in all conditions.  Online information sessions are in October-early November, and registration is in November to early December.  There is a cost of $50, which can be waived.

Powder Review (Annual Section Ski Trip to Wheeler, Hut January or March)

An annual trip to ACC’s Wheeler Hut in Rogers Pass for section members.  The section books Wheeler Hut for two nights, with trips posted by leaders to objectives in the area.  There is a fee to cover the cost of hut accommodations and a discounted fee for those who lead trips during the review.  All section members with AST1 and sufficient (generally intermediate or higher) skills for trips in Rogers Pass can sign up and there is generally a pot-luck on Saturday night.  In some years, the section may also run a concurrent trip Asulkan Hut.

Guided Courses

The section is able to arrange a variety of courses, depending on member interest, often at a discounted rate.  These can include AST1 (required for all backcountry ski trips & trips in avalanche terrain), AST2 (strongly suggested or required for more advanced trips,  multi-day trips and some guided courses), ski-mountaineering, winter crevasse rescue, backcountry ski leadership, ski leadership refresher courses and avy skills refresher courses.  The club works with a number of guides & guiding companies.  Cost varies depending on the type and length of course and the guide to client ratio, with minimums needed to run courses at advertised prices or at all.  Ratios can vary from 8:1 for AST1 down to 4:1 or less for advanced courses.

Trips

A variety of backcountry ski trips, and occasionally cross country ski trips are available through the Events Calendar.  AST1 is required for all backcountry ski trips and AST2 is strongly suggested for trips into complex terrain, as well as multi day trips.  Guides or trip leaders may also require AST2 for specific courses or trips.  Trips are popular so sign up promptly and be sure to withdraw if you can no longer make a trip.  Please be sure to read trip descriptions to ensure trips are appropriate for your ski & backcountry skill levels — and read instructions fully.  If a leader is not familiar with you, emailing with a brief backcountry ski ‘resume’ can help, as well as filling out & making readable your calendar profile.  All trips participants must sign an ACC waiver (https://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/waivers-and-liability/) and agree to the ACC Code of Conduct (https://accvi.ca/programs/member-code-of-conduct/)

Trip Leaders

We always welcome new ski leaders!  The demand for ski trips is always high — and at all levels.   The requirements for ski leaders are AST2 and a first aid course (preferably wilderness first aid), and skills appropriate to the level of the trips you intend to lead.  Generally you will be asked to ski with (do a trip with) the ski chair or another experienced ski leader as a check out before being allowed to post trips.  The trip leader guides are available here (link).  We try to offer a variety of guided courses to help future and current trip leaders develop and further their ski & leadership skills, and leaders who lead enough trips are eligible for subsidies that can be used towards ACC/section courses and other relevant courses such as wilderness first aid.  For those interested, be sure to sign up for the appropriate mailing lists to receive notices of courses, watch the calendar, check out the newsletter.  As part of the BITS program, there are opportunities for those interested in leading to test out the waters by being /tail gunners/helpers – BITS leaders and helpers are eligible for an additional subsidy.

Safety

The ski committee is working with the section and the national safety committee to ensure that trips and courses run in line with best practices based on ACMG & ACC standards.  Waivers must be signed for all trips – paper waivers are currently accepted, but are being phased out by summer 2024 and will only need to be signed by non ACC members and for guided courses.  Current waiver and liability documents are found here: https://accvi.ca/programs/member-code-of-conduct/   Trip leaders and participants are expected to report incidents as per the ACC policy listed here: https://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/community/mountain-safety/

Questions?

Contact the ski chair (ski@acccalgary.ca), and for BITS, contact the BITS coordinator (safety@acccalgary.ca).