Introduction to Backcountry Skiing

Are you an expert skier at the resorts and looking to take adventure to the next level? Our backcountry ski skills course is jammed packed with necessary skills to get you shredding the pow out of bounds and away from the lines. Skiing the backcountry is about freedom and adventure. Out here, you earn your turns - but as you will discover the uphill travel is just as rewarding as the downhill descent.

Participants need to be competent skiing intermediate [blue] terrain at their local ski hill. The outdoor portion of this course may be held in a gladed zone or similar. If conditions do not allow for backcountry skiing, we may also head to one of the local ski hills with an uphill policy.

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Length: 8-10 Hours
Guide-to-Client Ratio: 1:4
Difficulty: Based on Experience: Ages 10+
When: December - April
Type: Backcountry Skiing
Type: Mostly Educational

Note: This ski course is focused on uphill travel and easy to moderate ski descents. We are unlikely to enter avalanche terrain.


1 person: $375
2 people: $300pp
3 people: $275pp
4 people: $250pp


Most of the required equipment [listed below] - including Avalanche Transceiver, probe and shovel - is available for rent from our affiliate mtnGEAR. NEM climbers will receive an exclusive discount of 20% discount on all rental equipment and clothing.

Visit mtnGEAR for Rental Prices

AT skis and Splitboards can be rented from Ski The Whites or Gorham Bike and Ski



Backcountry Ski Skills
  • Meet at The Bunkhouse at 8am
  • 8-9am: Check in and gear check
  • 10am-3pm: Ski Skills
  • 4pm: Departure

Skills Taught

  1. Proper techniques for effective and efficient uphill and downhill travel
    • Proper skinning techniques and uphill travel
    • Avalanche awareness brief & beacon searches
    • Sound transitions
    • Downhill etiquette and sound decision making

What To Wear


When selecting clothing for your adventure, think layers. Choose synthetic materials, wool, or fleece.
The saying is "Cotton Kills." It will absorb sweat and then freeze - increasing the chances of hypothermia.


Please Bring the Following Items.

Guides Pick

[  ] Base Layer Top and Bottom: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top will be used as your base layer. Zip-neck styles will allow for better temperature regulation. Smartwool Men's NTS Mid 250 Top
Smartwool Men's NTS Mid 250 Bottom
Smartwool Women's NTS Mid 250 Top
Smartwool Women's NTS Mid 250 Bottom
[  ] Socks Wool or Synthetic Darn Tough

Snow pants will suffice instead of soft shell climbing pants and if you have insulating layers and jackets we recommend that you bring them. There will be time to sort through what you should bring and what you leave behind.

Mandatory Gear List


Most of the required equipment [listed below] is available for rent from our affiliate mtnGEAR.
NEM climbers will receive an exclusive discount of 20% discount on all rental equipment and clothing.


Mandatory Items

Guides Pick

[  ] Pack with Waist Strap: A 20-30L pack is the recommended size for one day tours. Your pack MUST have a waist strap. A backpack will not suffice. Black Diamond Dawn Patrol
[  ] Crampons: 10-12 point adjustable crampons designed for ice climbing Black Diamond Cyborg
[  ] Ice Axe: Designed for mountaineering or ski touring Camp Cassin X All Mountain
[  ] Helmet: A skiing helmet. Smith Vantage
Smith Vantage [W]
[  ] Warm Hat: Wool or synthetic. It should be warm and thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet. OR Gradient Hat
[  ] Buff/Neck Gaiter: Buff makes the best option. Buff Merino Wool
[  ] Ball Hat/Sun Hat: Optional. A lightweight ball cap or sun hat.
[  ] Sun Glasses: A pair of dark-lensed sunglasses with side shields or full wrap-type sunglasses. Julbo Tamang
[  ] Goggles: Goggles designed for skiing. Julbo Airflux
[  ] Lightweight glove: One pair of fleece gloves. OR Sensor
OR Catalyzer [W]
[  ] Medium Weight Glove: Wind/water resistant insulated mountain gloves. OR Ambit
OR Ambit [W]
[  ] Heavy Insulated Mitten: Wind/water resistant, insulated mittens for protection against wind, snow and cold. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove. OR High Camp
OR Highcamp [W]
[  ] Light Insulating Layer/Soft Shell Top: A fleece or other insulation layer. Arcteryx Gamma MX Hoody
Arcteryx Gamma MX Hoody [W]
[  ]Hard Shell Jacket with Hood: Wind/rain Proof. Gore-Tex recommended. Arcteryx Beta LT
Arcteryx Beta SL [W]
[  ] Insulated Parka: This item becomes of highest importance when we are faced with poor weather. This should be an expeditionary-type heavy parka that extends well below the waist and above the knees. Goose down is recommended versus synthetic fill. It does not have to be waterproof, but that is a nice feature. The parka is worn primarily at rest breaks on summit day and as an emergency garment if needed. When sizing a parka, allow for several layers to be worn underneath; buy it large. The parka must have an insulated hood. OR Incandescent
Arcteryx Cerium LT [W]
[  ] Skiing Pants: Synthetic skiing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them alone on hot days, or in combination with the base layer on cold days. The thickness (insulation quality) should be based on how well you do in the cold. For most of our adventures snow pants will suffice. OR Trailbreaker
OR Trailbreaker [W]
[  ] Touring Ski Boots:  Designed for alpine touring and backcountry skiing. Allow for easy walking and click in for downhill travel. Dynafit TLT7 Expedition
Dynafit TLT7 Expedition [W]
[  ] Ski Poles: Collapsible trekking poles. Black Diamond Ergo Cork
[  ] Headlamp  Petzl Reactik
[  ] Avalanche Beacon  Ortovox 3+
[  ] Avalanche Probe Ortovox 240 HD PFA
[  ] Avalanche Shovel 
Ortovox Beast
[  ] Ski Skins Cut and sized for your skis. G3 Alpinist
Visit mtnGEAR for Rental Prices



Please read through the following frequently asked questions and answers. These will help you prepare for your trip and get a better understanding of what to expect.

Do I need any prior experience?

No, but to make the transition to the backcountry you must be a black diamond skier at the resorts minimum.

What happens if the weather doesn't cooperate?

We usually will go out in the rain and snow. Lightning will reschedule or end our course. Please plan for all weather conditions. We may just alter the plan based on the weather forecast.

Am I supposed to tip my guide(s)?

Tips are never expected, however if you think your guide did a great job, tips are welcomed and appreciated. A normal tip is 20% of the guide fees or $20 per guide per day.

Can I rent the gear that I do not own?

Most of the required equipment is available for rent from our affiliate mtnGEAR. NEM climbers will receive an exclusive discount of 20% discount on all rental equipment and clothing. We do not carry AT skiing setups. You will need to secure them from a local shop.

What are 'Touring Boots'?

These are ski boots designed for ski touring and backcountry skiing. They have functionalities that make skinning more enjoyable.

Where should I stay?

We recommend The Bunkhouse at Northeast Mountaineering. For your convenience, we offer co-ed, hostel-style accommodations on site. The cost is $45 per person. To maximize your climbing experience, we recommend that you stay in the area the night before your program.

How do I find out when and where to meet?

Upon completion of your registration you will get a confirmation email with a link to all the pertinent information. You will be asked to secure your rental equipment and read through the welcome information to be prepared and on time for your course.

Worried about avalanches? AIARE 1 Course should help ease the tension. Not Ready? Contact Us for a recommendation.


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NEMs Adventure itineraries are subject to change or be adjusted based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, group dynamics and many other factors. NEM has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including the discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program. We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, an NEM credit for the full value is given; however, NEM cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations). NEM reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip at any time if NEM determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program. This includes being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.


Northeast Mountaineering cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit or complete the objective you have signed up for. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities or the abilities of others may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party will have to turn around without reaching the summit. Your program fee entitles you to one mountain experience on your specified dates.


Most of our programs do not have a minimum enrollment. If you are the only one registered, it will likely become a private outing. For our Waterfall Rappelling adventure, we must have at least 50% enrollment (3 people) to run the adventure. In the event of low-enrollment, we will reschedule your adventure to another date. If another date cannot be accommodated, you will receive an NEM credit.


Safety is NEM’s number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in the mountains but they cannot eliminate them. NEM guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that maximize your experience without compromising the necessary margin of safety. Please clearly understand that mountaineering and all other mountain adventures are inherently hazardous sports. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of these sports, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in these activities.


Payment in full is due at the time of booking. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or check.


A non-refundable deposit of $200 per person secures your reservation but may vary - please check your specific adventure. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or check. Final payment is due 1 month [30 days] before departure. For your convenience, we can work out a monthly payment plan.


A non-refundable deposit of $200 per person secures your reservation but may vary - please check your specific adventure. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or check. Final payment is due 1 month [30 days] before departure. For your convenience, we can work out a monthly payment plan.


Up to 30 days before your adventure: Full Refund will be issued 29 days - 72 hours before your adventure: Full Refund in the form of NEM credit Within 72 hours of your adventure: No refund will be issued* In the event that you have a positive COVID-19 test and need to cancel within 72 hours, you will be issued an NEM credit for your adventure.


Up to 90 days before your adventure: Full Refund will be issued 89 days - 30 days before your adventure: Participant will be responsible for paying 50% of the total balance. If the balance is paid in full, participant will receive a 50% refund in the form of NEM credit. Within 30 days of your adventure: No refund will be issued and participant will be responsible for paying the full balance.* *Travel Insurance is highly recommended to protect your investment. If NEM cancels your adventure due to weather or another unforeseen reason, you will receive an NEM credit.


Date changes are subject to availability. Date changes may be requested at anytime up to 7 days prior to your adventure without incurring a date change fee. Date changes may be requested between 7 and 3 days prior to your departure date for a $25 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed within 72 hours before your adventure.


In the event your guide or a fellow NEM guide or staff has reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 or they are otherwise feeling unwell they will attempt to get a COVID test in time for your adventure or course. In the event of a positive test or the absence of results,  your course or adventure will be rescheduled or you can opt for an NEM credit to use at your discretion. Refunds for travel, lodging or other costs associated with your adventure will not be refunded or reimbursed.