Colorado Backcountry Ski & Snowboarding

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This course is an 8-day backcountry skiing and splitboarding expedition in the Sawatch Range of Colorado. It is designed to maximize time skiing or riding backcountry slopes, learning to safely travel in avalanche terrain and work as a highly functioning team. The terrain is challenging and we can only accept students with solid intermediate skiing or boarding skills.
ski ride tim ellis

Course Description

Our theme on this course is “Work hard to play hard.” This week-long intensive backcountry riding program will have plenty of opportunities to float through untracked powder, climb to majestic alpine views, and experience the awesome beauty of the Colorado winter backcountry.

All this glory takes hard work and proper training. The first few days of course are spent at our basecamp in Leadville, Colorado. You and your crew will spend a day riding lifts at a resort to acclimate to the high altitude and get your legs under you. At the resort our instructors coach you on some helpful backcountry techniques for powder riding, thriving in variable conditions, and navigating tight trees. Along with snowboard or ski instruction, you will receive training in avalanche awareness and hazard evaluation. And of course, you’ll be hiking for your turns, so you’ll learn everything you need to know about traveling uphill on your skis or splitboard. During the first days of course, you’ll sleep in our heated dorms and eat in our cozy dining hall.

After a few days of learning the basics of backcountry travel, you’ll head out for an overnight camping expedition, where you’ll really hone your backcountry skills. After setting up camp, you and your group will head out for some awesome turns. Along the way you will also learn about winter navigation, avalanche terrain management, cold weather physiology, winter camping equipment selection and care, and decision making skills.

Whether you’re interested in riding out of bounds at the resorts or going for major backcountry tours, this in-depth look at off-piste skiing and snowboarding will help you develop skills to be safe and have fun with your friends back home.

ski ride cisco

Avalanche Awareness Curriculum

This course incorporates The American Avalanche Association’s nationally recognized Introduction to Avalanche Field Course curriculum. We will focus heavily on decision making by using a professional, daily avalanche bulletin and examining the factors that contribute to avalanche hazard. We will analyze snowpack stability and terrain and explore the potential pitfalls of group dynamics. We will also practice route finding strategies, make travel decisions in a group, and practice companion rescue techniques, including the use of avalanche beacons, probes and shovels. This course exceeds the duration of the AAA’s introductory course and provides multiple days for navigating avalanche terrain under the guidance and mentorship of expert instructors.

Course Area

Rocky Mountains, Colorado – The Rocky Mountains are one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world, stretching 3,000 miles from Alaska to New Mexico. They have provided the foundation of legends and have had a profound influence on the development of the United States. Native Americans were the first to live among these peaks. In the 1800s, Colorado became a popular destination for pioneers, miners, cowboys and explorers, and you can see their legacy still today in the ruins scattered throughout the hills. Today, the state is famous for its abundant wilderness adventure possibilities, from skiing to rock climbing to mountaineering.  Colorado has the greatest concentration of high peaks in the lower 48, with hundreds of ‘Thirteeners’ (13,000+ foot mountains), and 54 ‘Fourteeners.’

Additional Information

NOTE: Colorado Outward Bound School ski/snowboarding courses require solid intermediate skills. At a minimum you must be able to ride ungroomed terrain, make it safely down a “black diamond” run at a typical ski area and safely navigate trees (slow is OK, safe is essential). Call our Student Services Department at 720-381-6589 for more information.

Course Documents

Click below to download a sample itinerary or a list of clothing required for the course.

CCXU 2017 – Travel and Itinerary

CCXU 2017 – Required Clothing and Gear

photos by Cisco Tharp, Tim Ellis