4 Month Backcountry Program


We are at capacity for this program, registration is closed. 

The JHSC 4-month backcountry program is open to aspiring and experienced split boarders and skiers 13 and older.  It will consist of weeknight training sessions at Snow King, and full-day guided backcountry ski tours in Grand Teton National Park. Dates throughout the season will vary slightly due to weather and snowpack conditions.  This program will have a maximum ratio on touring days of 5 students to 1 coach/guide and will be open to 10 athletes this season.  Our coaches are experienced backcountry skiers/split boarders and are certified guides. This program will include an online training module and two full days with the American Avalanche Institute, earning athletes their Recreational Level 1 avalanche certification. This is the first step toward official certified mountain guide training.  Athletes who have already completed a Recreational Level 1 avalanche certification will further their skills assisting in mentoring and instruction with the up and coming backcountry skiers. 

With 10 athletes in the program, we will be able to split into advanced and beginner groups to make this a great program for first-time backcountry skiers and seasoned travelers alike.  The advanced group will dive into more detail with avalanche forecasting, routinely performing snowpit tests and route planning.  The advanced group will also be held to a higher physical standard during the Snow King sessions in order to build endurance for bigger objectives in the park.  

At the end of the season athletes who show good judgement and a strong track record throughout touring days will be invited to an overnight backcountry skiing trip.  This trip is only open to athletes in the backcountry program who are 14 and older and is a separate offering from the 4-month program.

This program is put on in partnership with Exum Mountain Guides, and the American Avalanche Institute.  

Exum Mountain Guides has had great success managing Covid-19 this summer during their alpine climbing season.  We are confident in managing these risks this coming winter and believe the nature of backcountry skiing will make a safe environment to do so. The American Avalanche Institute has developed special online learning courses to take place of the classroom avalanche lectures, this not only mitigates the risk of Covid-19 transmission but it will also give athletes a chance to revisit information and learn at their own pace.  Please visit the JHSC Covid-19 page for our official statement.

Please read all drop-down menus below, or contact bvotilla@jhskiclub.org for more information. 



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Snow King Sessions

The Snow King evening sessions will run Thursdays from 4:30-6:30pm, once per week December through March, and are designed to:

  • Grow team building and cohesiveness among the backcountry group
  • Build fitness and technique for the longer touring days in the park
  • Hold the classroom component of the Avalanche Level 1 certification 
  • Host guests and experts from the local backcountry skiing community

Athletes should be prepared to ascend Snow King (approx. 1,500 vertical feet) on ski touring gear during the majority of these sessions.

GTNP Touring Days

There will be seven guided ski touring days held in Grand Teton National Park and on Teton Pass.  These touring days will be put on in partnership with Exum Mountain Guides.  Athletes will build upon the skills and topics covered in Snow King sessions and take it to the mountains.  We will skin up and ski down some of the classic routes in GTNP. Routes will depend on conditions, group level, and will increase in physical commitment level as the season goes on and athletes progress.  Two of these touring days will include the field component of the AAI Avalanche Level 1 certification.

Some of the ski touring goals could include routes on:  25 short, Mavericks, Albright, Shadow Mountain, or crossing Jackson Lake to ski the wild northern park... to name a few.  Towards the end of the season, there is opportunity to do an overnight winter camping and ski touring trip in GTNP.

These touring days are fully guided and will operate under Exum Mountain Guides' professional permits. Towards the end of the season, athletes will be expected to develop their own tour plan for the day and execute some mock guiding of their own.

Physical Requirement

JHSC coaches will work with athletes to perform at their best level in all ski club events.  A large part of the Backcountry Program will be to build the athletes’ physical endurance throughout the season with more demanding climbs towards the end of the season.

With that being said backcountry skiing is an extremely physically demanding activity both uphill and down, and athletes do need to come into the program with a base level of physical fitness.  An athlete should be able to hike to the top of Snow King with a light to medium-sized pack and participate in some other hiking, walking in the mountains before the season starts.

Athletes will be expected to skin up Snow King, roughly 1,500’ vertical, once per week through the season, and will ideally plan for additional training and skiing/snowboarding days on their own.  The GTNP touring days could consist of at least 3,000’ vertical of climbing and being outside in remote areas for up to 8 hours at a time. As the season progresses we are excited to up those numbers as we see fit!

As for the downhill... athletes should have advanced skiing/snowboarding skills and feel comfortable navigating a variety of ungroomed snow conditions.

Team News

03/28/2021 - 6:46pm
Season is a wrap and we are looking forward to more next year!
02/28/2021 - 5:48pm
The big news for the JHSC Backcountry Programs this month is the Mini Mountaineers team.  They are up and running and have really impressed the coaches.  Everyone has been showing awesome commitment to get through the learning curve.  If you have
01/29/2021 - 6:50pm
With a rough start to the winter in much of the west we are super lucky to live in Jackson.  Although we have had below average snow pack for this time of year, we have still had plenty of snow and some awesome storm cycles with deep powder skiing