You don’t have to be a beginner to start your backcountry education. We offer AIARE courses, as well as Advanced Courses to support intermediate to expert riders in taking their touring to the next level.
THE BLUEBIRD PHILOSOPHY
At Bluebird Backcountry, we believe backcountry education should begin before you arrive for the first day of your avalanche course. We know students get more out of their avalanche education when they’re not fiddling with gear or worried about making their first turns off-piste. That’s why we’ve developed a Backcountry Progression series focused on backcountry skiing and splitboarding to prepare you for your avalanche education. Our curriculum was developed by a team of experts with deep outdoor and experiential education roots, and we continue to hone it to better fit our students’ needs throughout each season. This year, we’ve revolutionized our approach to backcountry education by offering Backcountry 1, 2, and 3 lessons, as well as specialized clinics and mentorship opportunities, to help you feel fully prepared to take on your AIARE Rec-1 course.
Wondering where to start?
This graphic will help you get a sense of what lessons and courses are right for you – or take our quiz to find out which lesson is right for you.
BLUEBIRD BACKCOUNTRY LESSONS
Backcountry 1: Intro to Backcountry
Our classic Intro to Backcountry lesson is back by popular demand. This welcoming, beginner-friendly course is geared toward never-evers and folks who have only clicked into their bindings in the backcountry a handful of times. This course introduces newcomers to their touring gear and covers basic skinning techniques, backcountry etiquette, Leave No Trace best practices, and transitioning from uphill to downhill. You’ll leave this course acquainted with your gear and ready to hone your backcountry skills.
Backcountry 2: Backcountry Skills
This lesson is geared toward skiers and splitboarders who have spent several days on touring gear and are comfortable with their equipment and basic skinning techniques. Now that you’re familiar with your gear, it’s time to understand best practices for staying comfortable in the winter backcountry (including basic equipment troubleshooting), develop more efficient skinning techniques for varying terrain, and improve your downhill technique in variable conditions. (It’s very different from typical in-bounds skiing or snowboarding!) You’ll leave this course knowing how to prepare for a day in the backcountry and with better uphill and downhill technique.
Backcountry 3: Avalanche Prep
The final installment in our three-lesson Backcountry Progression is the bridge between the skills you’ve already learned and your avalanche education. This course is geared towards folks who are familiar with their touring gear, can skin uphill in terrain of varying steepness, and can comfortably ski or splitboard most of the terrain at Bluebird Backcountry. This lesson covers trip planning basics and introduces observations about current conditions, as well as more advanced skinning and downhill movement. You’ll leave this course feeling prepared to learn about avalanches and how to avoid them (because you’ll know enough about backcountry travel that it won’t be a distraction) in your AIARE course.
Intermediate to advanced backcountry Skier or Snowboarder? Bluebird is a great place to keep your skills fresh.
This season we have added six advanced courses that will be offered to those looking to improve their knowledge and skills in order to achieve bigger goals in the backcountry.
Women play an important role in the dynamics of the backcountry. In this women’s only course, you’ll learn tricks, tips, and knowledge that will empower you in the backcountry, as well as improve your efficiency and performance. This course also gives participants the opportunity to build camaraderie and ask backcountry-related questions in a female-only environment.
Looking to take your backcountry riding into more extreme terrain? In this course, we’ll cover the basics of taking your tour plans to the next level with an introduction to the gear and skills needed for ski mountaineering; how to plan and execute a ski mountaineering objective; steep skiing/riding/bootpacking techniques and more. This is our most advanced course, and is intended for those who are comfortable with their equipment and have the ability to ride 38º+ slopes.
Practice makes perfect, and reviewing your avalanche skills every season is something that everyone, no matter your experience level, should do. Our Avalanche Refresher Course will get you back in the habit of practicing avalanche rescue drills, digging into this season’s snowpack, discussing any questions about the AIARE 1 or 2 materials and concepts, and reviewing avalanche terrain and backcountry route finding. The course includes self-paced online learning, a virtual meeting with your instructor team, and a day in the field at Bluebird Backcountry, where you’ll be part of a community that’s committed to quality education.
Hut Trip 101
Whether you’ve never been on a hut trip or want to take your friends out into the backcountry for the weekend, learn how to create a positive, safe experience for all in our Hut Trip 101 course. This overnight, on-snow class combines introductory backcountry skiing skills with hut-specific safety information. You’ll learn cooking tips, leave-no-trace etiquette, and have time to participate in common hut trip activities and games.
Maps in the Real World
Where am I? How do I get over there? This course will teach you to incorporate mapping applications into your ski tours. Knowing how to use a map ensures a safer backcountry experience…and who doesn’t love navigating their way to a cool new spot?! This full-day course is done in partnership with onX Backcountry and takes place both in-classroom and on-snow.
Wilderness First Aid
Always be prepared! Our hands-on, two-day WFA course hosted by Desert Mountain Medicine bridges the gap between avalanche education and wilderness medical response. This introduction to wilderness medicine will teach students to prevent, assess, and treat ailments common to winter backcountry recreation in an on-snow, in-classroom group setting.
Skiing With Your Dog
This half-day, on-snow course will teach you the skills you need to know to keep your dog safe and happy in the backcountry. Bring your four-legged friend along!
AIARE AVALANCHE EDUCATION
Bluebird is one of the top AIARE provider’s in the country. Here are a few of the top reasons why taking your AIARE course at Bluebird is the best choice:
- Incredible Classroom – The terrain at Bluebird Backcountry is perfect for all levels.
- Amazing Instructors – Our AIARE trained and certified instructors are educators first and foremost. Plus, they know the terrain at Bluebird very well, meaning they will search out the best snow on the mountain for you.
- Mentorship Opportunities – When you take an avalanche course at Bluebird, you’re surrounded by people who are there to learn or those who are looking to help others gain experience. You’ll walk away from your AIARE course with new ski partners and future backcountry mentors.
- Plus so much more …
SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS WITH AN EDUCATION ADD-ON
New to backcountry touring? Check out our Bluebird+ Season Pass Add-On!
If you’re a newbie to the backcountry world, we suggest taking the Bluebird+ path. This three-lesson program — including Backcountry 1, 2, and 3 — is designed to get you oriented on backcountry snow with all the basics of your gear, uphill movement, and skiing off piste, while preparing you to take your avalanche education courses.
Available as an add-on to any Season Pass.
Once you’ve taken a lesson or course, keep adding to your backcountry tool kit!
Anyone looking to continue their backcountry education, find partners, and stay involved with Bluebird – check out our new digital learning community!
Bluebird Backcountry Community is a virtual place for Bluebird Backcountry lovers, and those new to Bluebird to gather. By becoming a Bluebird+ or Advanced+ Member, you’ll have full access to the following within Bluebird Backcountry Community :
- Online courses and learning resources, built and moderated by our experienced education team.
- Groups focused on everything from backcountry learning to gear exchanges and partner finding.
- Polls, prompts, and questions to bring more people into important conversations within the backcountry community.
- Topics and forums covering things such as Backcountry News and What’s Happening at Bluebird This Season.
- Virtual and in-person members-only events.
- And so much more …
WHY BACKCOUNTRY EDUCATION AT BLUEBIRD IS THE BEST
Still wondering where to start?
Last year, over 6,000 guests visited Bluebird and 1,153 of which took an educational course with us and had an amazing time. 1000 people filled out our surveys last year and they shared some great perspective on why Bluebird is the #1 destination to learn about backcountry touring and receive avalanche education.
“You guys have made trying something new and challenging a lot more fun!”
“It was a fun introduction to a sport that has always looked interesting to me, but I never felt comfortable trying without someone to show me how to start. Everyone was super nice. It was a great experience…”
“Awesome setup giving newbs like me a chance to learn and practice in a safe space.”
Have a large group of 10 or more?
Whether you’re a school group looking to further your avalanche education, a big group of friends wanting to refresh skills, or a company/nonprofit needing to re-certify, we invite you to bring your group or event to the friendliest and most unique ski area in the universe.