intro to backcountry skiing and splitboarding

Intro to Backcountry Skiing and Riding Hut Clinic: March 1-4, 2018

silverton avalanche school


Click on the REGISTER NOW button for the dates you’re interested in registering for. You will be re-directed to the Silverton Avalanche School website to complete the booking process.

  • Option 1:  All inclusive w/ Double Occupancy Room in Ouray $899

  • Option 2:  Backcountry Clinic only w/o Ouray Lodging $799

Join Chicks and the Silverton Avalanche School on Red Mountain Pass for our 3 day intro to backcountry skiing and riding hut clinic. We will spend two nights at the easily accessible Mountain Belle Hut. Under the guidance of an IFMGA/AMGA guide, PSIA and Avalanche Instructor you’ll learn the ups and downs of backcountry skiing in a setting that is perfect for anyone that can ski blue runs on-piste. You’ll gain a solid foundation of basic winter travel skills, safety and avalanche rescue fundamentals as well as tips and coaching to ski well in a variety of backcountry conditions.

This clinic is ideal for women who love to ski, are curious about venturing into the backcountry and want to get a feel for it in a supportive, fun environment. The Mountain Belle is a comfortable backcountry ski hut with great lighting and views, a wood burning stove, BBQ grill on the deck and all the essentials to kick back after a day out in the mountains. Your guides will prepare breakfasts and dinners giving you ample time to chill and enjoy each other’s company. Access to the hut is a moderate mile of skinning up a snow covered jeep road with breathtaking views. We use a snowmobile to tote in and out all the food, supplies and overnight equipment so your packs won’t be a burden.

The terrain we use is moderate but fun and includes both alpine slopes above treeline with open glades and moderate tree skiing below. There are no requirements for previous avalanche education for this clinic simply because we’ll avoid avalanche prone slopes. However, this area is one of the best classrooms anywhere to learn about avalanche safety with some of the most impressive avalanche paths in the country will be visible in the distance. For women interested in taking a Level 1 avalanche course this clinic is the the perfect warm-up. We’ll discuss how to find and interpret an avalanche forecast, the basics of using avalanche rescue equipment as well as how perform daily transceiver checks and carry out a basic companion rescue.

If you are in intermediate or even an expert skier or rider and curious about exploring the beauty and endless potential for untracked terrain, you’ll learn the skills on this clinic to help you do so. We’ll cover a wide range of topics including how a mountain snowpack forms, how to recognize and avoid avalanche terrain, navigating with a map and compass, decision-making and traveling in groups as well as how to manage clothing, temperature and equipment in winter conditions. We’ll teach you how to skin uphill, make an efficient skin track and set a pace that you can maintain for any length of time. You’ll also learn a number of different kick turns for the up, give you tips on how to conserve energy and make transitions from up to down more efficient. Backcountry conditions are typically variable and call for a wide range of tactics to ski or ride confidently and in control. You’ll come away from our clinic with tools to negotiate tricky conditions safely, both increasing your fun factor and reducing your risk of injury in the backcountry.

This course will equip you with the skills and knowledge to be more self-reliant in the backcountry and be a good companion on basic backcountry tours.  Our goal is to help you become more confident so you can enjoy a day out in the backcountry and have the tools to recognize and avoid hazardous terrain. For those that take the time to go through these first steps and first tracks, the magic of the backcountry is accessible for a lifetime.


You should be an intermediate to expert skier or rider with that ability to ski blue runs on-piste confidently and in control.  No previous backcountry experience is required. For those that would like to delve more into backcountry skills who already have a few days under their belts, this clinic will take your skills to the next level. Avalanche training or certification is not required for this entry level course.

intro to backcountry skiing and riding hut clinic participants

Day three of Intro to Backcountry Skiing. The Chicks head out for a tour in the Red Mountain Pass area of the San Juan Mountains, Colorado. Photo: Louis Aravelo


  • 3 days guided instruction 
  • 2 nights lodging at the Mountain Belle Ski Hut
  • 2 nights lodging at the Victorian Inn
  • Meals
  • Demo gear and clothes
  • Sponsor Gift Bag


  • Air and ground transportation to Ouray, Colorado
  • Personal ski equipment* (AT skis, AT ski boots skins, and splitboards available for rent at a reasonable cost)
  • Personal protective outerwear*
  • Warm clothing*
  • Gratuities

*Demos from our Sponsors are available including outerwear, warm layers and gloves. Please contact us if you would like to check out some of the latest and greatest.


What to Bring

Travel logistics


DAY 1: MARCH 1, 2018

Arrive in Ouray, check into your room at the Victorian Inn by 4:00pm.

5:00 Welcome and Introductions.  Meet your guides, other participants, discuss the clinic schedule, safety briefing, equipment check and demo gear check out. Tips on what you need to bring, how to pack your backpack, small bag of personal items for the snowmobile and what to wear for the skin into the hut. Q & A

Dinner together and packing for the trip.

DAY 2: MARCH 2, 2018

Breakfast at the Victorian Inn

Van shuttle to RMP

Avalanche Rescue basics of transceiver functions and use and trailhead checks

Skinning and touring basics, pacing and managing your temperature and layers

Approach 1 mile to the Mountain Belle Hut

Move into the Hut, tea and lunch

How to conduct a transceiver (mock burial) search, probing and shovel technique

Afternoon ski tour w/ basics of skinning and backcountry skiing skills

Tea, Dinner and R&R at the Hut

Evening discussion on the basics of avalanche safety and the mountain snowpack, plan for tomorrow


DAY 3: MARCH 3, 2018

Coffee, tea and breakfast at the hut

Reading an avalanche forecast bulletin and planning a backcountry tour

Backcountry tour – all day or option to return to hut for lunch

Tea, dinner and R&R

Discussion on Map and Compass Navigation


DAY 5: MARCH 4, 2018

Coffee, tea and breakfast at the hut

Group tour planning exercise for the day’s outing

Backcountry tour – all day or option to return to Hut for lunch and go back out

Return to the Hut, pack up and ski out to RMP

Van shuttle to Ouray Victorian Inn

Happy Hour Celebration with Hors d’oeuvres


A $35.00 fee is charged for course date transfers. 60% of the course cost can be refunded up to 30 days prior to the course start.  No refunds are provided for cancellations made less than 30 days prior to the start of the course for which you are registered. Unfortunately we cannot give refunds, rain checks or cancellations if passes into Silverton are closed.