The Backcountry is a scary prospect for many and definitely a far cry from the hustle and bustle of city living but for one of our course participants this leap was more of a calling than a choice. Having previously worked in London our participant spent last season working in the French alps, skiing and boarding every day and this was the place where, in his words, he “fell in love with backcountry stuff.” From there he knew it was a passion he had to pursue so he quickly booked onto Snow Rehab’s Backcountry course.
To help you decide if the course is right for you we sat down with a Snow Rehab backcountry course participant to find out the best tips and tricks for back-country exploring and to get a feel for what makes an aspiring international mountain guide.
What course are you on with Snow Rehab this season?
I’m doing the level 1 & 2 backcountry course with CAA level 1 avalanche and first aid training.
Do you Ski or Snowboard?
I’m a snowboarder first. I do like skiing and have done it before but snowboarding was always more my thing, I prefer it. I surf as well.
How experienced are you with boarding?
I’ve been boarding for years now and would probably consider myself to be an intermediate level boarder. It’s cool going out on the mountain every day here though; you improve so much in such a short period of time.
Why did you choose the course you’re currently studying towards?
The biggest reason for choosing this course, for me, was that I want to be a fully qualified International Mountain Guide and this Snow Rehab course seemed like the first step to achieving that goal. I want to be able to get to know a mountain properly before I work there and have the skills to do that safely. Chamonix is my dream mountain to explore with people and I know from experience in the Alps that you have to be really careful of no fall zones over there. It can be really scary if you don’t know what you’re doing and that’s why I want to do the level 2 Instructing.
You’ve been on the course for around 4 weeks now, what has been your best experience so far?
I’ve really enjoyed being able to go exploring by myself a bit more and in smaller groups. Getting the confidence to do so is a big part of it and me and some friends from the course hiked some really cool lines the first week we arrived in Revelstoke. I love boarding fresh powder that no-one’s touched in days, the weather was perfect for it and we had such a good time that day. Some great photo ops too!
What skills have you developed since starting the course?
Mostly assessing risk, it’s such an important part of it. We’ve also spent some time getting to know the terrain we’re working on. My boarding is always improving too and whilst I’ve done some first aid before it’s good to keep reminding myself of the important stuff.
Do you have any tips for people considering a backcountry qualification?
Make sure you keep your fitness level up! You’ll need to get used to carrying equipment (splitboards etc.) for some of the time. Plan your expeditions with people of similar level or better to you - this way you’ll always be being pushed and progress will be so much better. Zip up layers and reflective clothing are a must! You’ll be warmer and safer this way!
The mountain has so much to offer for skiers, snowboarders, resort junkies and explorers alike. The course is all about safety and fun and if you feel like you’ve got some stuff in common with this guy here (and are stoked about all that backcountry powder) it might just be what you feel like doing next season. Our essential backcountry gear list can be found here.
Credits: Written by Catherine Moore