2022 Class Update

This season the Mazama Backcountry Ski Touring Program will return to its normal format with some slight changes to accommodate the ongoing pandemic. Tours and outdoor classes will be in-person while most lectures will be online. All students and class personnel will need to be vaccinated in order to take part in in-person activities. 

Registration will be open from November 15th to December 10th. Acceptance will be communicated by December 17th. 

New for 2022, Interested parties and prospective students who don’t get accepted to the course this season can get access to last year's 6 part virtual lecture for $30. This is 12 hours of education and covers topics such as gear needed, trip planning, weather evaluation and more. One live group Q&A session will be scheduled for all participants. These lectures would be a great compliment to an Avy 1 course.

**COVID-19 Safety Class Guidelines**
All lectures will be held virtually. They will include breakout rooms and online student engagement exercises. Field classes and tours will reduce the number of participants (6 students and 3 assistants) to ensure social distancing of 6ft apart. Wearing masks will be required at all in-person classes if less than 6ft. Students will be required to take their own temperature before attending in-person classes and expected self exclude if experiencing symptoms. There will be no overnight tours offered. 
Please follow the Mazama’s Coronavirus Response and Policy for more information.

Course Information

The Mazama Backcountry Ski Touring Program (formerly called Ski Mountaineering) is designed to teach you the skills, attitude, and awareness necessary to safely enjoy the many backcountry ski opportunities that exist in the Cascades and beyond. Ski mountaineering in the Pacific Northwest can span the spectrum from multi-day traverses, to skiing off the summits of local volcanoes, to just basking in the sunshine on the south side of Mt. Hood in July. Each tour has its special joys and dangers.

Our goal is to help you make a safe and confident transition from skiing advanced slopes at resorts to touring the off-piste environment of mountain wilderness. The focus of this course is on the skills necessary to ascend/descend non-technical intermediate level backcountry ski climbs in the Northwest (terrain such as the basic routes of St. Helens, Mt. Adams, South Sister, and snow fields of Mt. Hood). 

The course takes place over a period of 8 weeks and includes lectures and field sessions. It is open to AT/randonee skiers, telemark skiers, and splitboarders, and is taught by experienced Mazama volunteers. Participants must be 18 years or older by the day of the first lecture.

Course Format

 

Backcountry Ski Touring accepts approximately 30-40 students per year. The course includes a series of lectures and field sessions that cover gear, travel techniques on backcountry skis and split-boards, self-arrest techniques, emergency shelters, avalanche awareness (analysis, safe travel, and rescue), route finding, navigation, weather, and trip planning.

This course does NOT cover advanced skiing/snowboarding skills, roped travel, or crevasse rescue.

Course Details

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Schedule

Typically held in the winter each year (January–March) and includes a series of lectures, field sessions, and tours. COVID 2021 months are February - April.  

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Time Commitment/Duration

High—Backcountry Ski Touring is an intensive time commitment, and we highly recommend that you clear your schedule as much as possible during the duration of the course.

Moderate—Backcountry Ski Touring is an appx. 8-week course, and consists of required and optional activities.

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Tuition

$325 for Mazama members, $375 for non- Mazama members

 

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Skills Taught

Backcountry Ski Touring curriculum covers gear, travel techniques on backcountry skis and split-boards, self-arrest techniques, emergency shelters, avalanche awareness (analysis, safe travel, and rescue), route finding, navigation, weather, and trip planning.
This course does NOT cover advanced skiing/snowboarding skills, roped travel, or crevasse rescue.

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Prerequisites

All applicants must be 18 years of age by the introductory lecture of the course.

Applicants must be competent advanced level skiers/riders, comfortable with off-piste skiing, and linking turns on most downhill slopes. It is expected that students will be able to safely ski/ride in challenging conditions that involve ice, deep powder, wind crusts, and trees. 

Students should be able to confidently navigate and enjoy black diamond runs on local ski hills, such as Mt. Hood Meadows (Heather Canyon) and Ski Bowl (Upper Bowl). Students should also be comfortable spending extended periods outdoors engaged in moderate to intensive cardiovascular activity including at least 2000 vertical feet of climbing.

If you are unsure whether you meet the skills required for this course, please feel to contact the Program Coordinator (skimt@mazamas.org) to discuss your abilities

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Application Process

There is a student info night scheduled to provide prospective students with an opportunity to learn more about the course and to ask questions.

The application period is typically open for 2 weeks.

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Scholarship Opportunities

We are offering a limited number of scholarships to allow students to participate who will not be able to do so without financial assistance and whose participation can help expand the Mazamas membership base beyond current cultural, economic, and ethnic demographics.

A scholarship is for course tuition ONLY. Mazamas may cover the cost of your course up to 90% of the course tuition based on factors listed above. Other costs associated with the course may apply. You must have access to a computer, smartphone, or tablet to participate in the course. Please see course home page for associated costs and logistics. All scholarship awardees will qualify for select course gear at a discounted rate.

Applications for scholarships will be part of of the class application. 

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Requirements

Backcountry Ski Touring is a demanding commitment in terms of time and gear, so apply only if you can make the necessary commitment.

All students must attend the first introductory lecture to obtain information about clothing, equipment, and course content. 

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Gear List
  1. Clothing, food, water, the ten essentials, etc. appropriate for an all day ski mountaineering tour.
  2. AT/Randonee skis, telemark skis, or split-board.
  3. Climbing skins. You must have good quality climbing skins that adhere well to your skis/board. Please be familiar with how to put them on BEFORE arriving on a field session.
  4. Stiff AT/randonee, telemark, or snowboard touring boots.
  5. Poles, preferably adjustable.
  6. Pack capable of carrying your skis or board.
  7. Large Ensolite pad or insulated pad suitable for winter conditions.
  8. Shovel, probe, and transceiver (the MMC has transceivers available to checkout for the duration of the program).
  9. Ice axe.
  10. Compass with adjustable declination, and altimeter if you have one. We recommend getting a compass with adjustable declination, inclinometer, and a mirror.
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COVID-19 Safety

The class will be strictly following the Mazama’s Coronavirus Response and Policy. By agreeing to participate in the class, you are agreeing to abide by the policy. All lectures will be virtual and field class sizes reduced following social distancing and mask safety measures.