4 Month Backcountry Program

The JHSC 4-month backcountry program is a new offering open to aspiring and experienced split boarders and skiers over the age of 13.  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 of 5 students to 1 coach/guide. Our coaches are experienced backcountry ski / split boarders and are certified guides. This program will include two evening 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.  

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

Please read all drop down menus below, or contact bvotilla@jhskiclub.org for more information and to register for the 4 Month Backcountry Program.

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Snow King Sessions

The Snow King evening sessions will run Thursdays from 4-6pm, 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 (aprox. 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

10/30/2019 - 2:00pm
Winter came early!  Skiers are already enjoying some October powder turns in the high mountains.  This is very exciting, but remember early season backcountry skiing requires a high level of avalanche awareness and route finding technique.  The sn
02/27/2019 - 8:08pm
With all the snow that February has brought to the Tetons we are looking forward to the upcoming Backcountry Program events in March.
02/08/2019 - 7:13pm
Backcountry Skiing, JHSC, ski tour, avalanche
What a great winter for backcountry skiing it has been!  The backcountry programming has all but wrapped up, all JHSC teams have now had some formal avalanche training through AAI.  Thank you to the coaches for making time for this, it has been gr