Womens Backcountry Ski Skills Course

Please see below the information for the 2020 season. Details for 2021 will be released soon.

Who is this course for?

The NZAC Women’s Backcountry Ski Skills Course (WBSSC) is a three-day course designed for strong intermediate (or better) female skiers or split boarders with excellent aerobic fitness, who are looking for a good grounding in backcountry touring. The goal being to learn the skills to go and experience the winter backcountry by themselves! There is a “journey element” to the final day of the course. Day 1 will be spent touring in the backcountry near Mt Cheeseman ski area and practising skills. On Day 2, we will continue to develop your touring skills, whilst seeking out the best snow for the day and refining techniques. On day 3, we will tour from Mt Cheeseman to Mt Olympus or Broken River. There are numerous choices on which way to go and it’s a great chance to tie together all the skills you have learnt.

At a minimum, those wishing to register for the WBSSC must be capable of:

• Confidently skiing ALL the ‘black diamond’ runs on your local ski field in ALL conditions.
• Comfortably skiing steep ungroomed slopes on a ski field.
• Making turns in crusty or heavy snow on steep ground.
• Confidently performing kick-turn on steep ground to get out of trouble if needed. The guide will also show you some tricks for this.
• Slide-slip confidently to get down a slope too steep or rocky to turn on.
• Being fit enough to ski hard for three days in a row. The group will be looking for 600-1000m of ascent each day.

On the WBSSC, participants will learn the following:

• Equipment- what to carry and why. How to look after your gear.
• Trip planning and preparation – including use of the NZ Avalanche Advisory, weather forecasts and checklists.
• Skins- getting them on and off quick smart without holding too many people up.
• Skinning- good technique – how to lay a good, safe track that others will enjoy.
• Mountain travel – terrain analysis and choosing a safe route.
• Reading the snow- finding the goods and tests for analysing snow stability.
• Navigation- map and compass, altimeter, basic GPS. Navigating in a white out.
• Weather – general and specific to the Canterbury high country
• Avalanches – Signs of instability and how to avoid avalanches.
• Companion rescue: Avalanche Transceivers, probing and shovelling.


The course will be run in a minimum 1:4 guide to participant ratio, headed by a fully qualified NZMGA Ski Guide. All participants must agree to follow the guide’s instructions and directions.