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Backcountry Travel Course

The Backcountry Travel Course is for recreational backcountry skiers and boarders. The focus of this course is to teach participants avalanche skills & backcountry travel techniques - proper use of backcountry equipment, navigation & route planning, group management route setting, assessing mountain terrain for safest routes of ascent & descent & identifying mountain & snowpack areas of concern.

As part of the course you will receive the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council Avalanche Awareness Certificate.

The Backcountry Travel Course is longer than a standard Avalanche Awareness Course. We spend two full days (instead of one) travelling on snow and in avalanche terrain in the Queenstown Backcountry. 

Participants on this course should be able to ski/ride off piste in a variety of conditions. Backcountry travel equipment is required for this course (touring skis, split board, or snow shoes). See the equipment list for more details and where to rent gear if needed.

Backcountry Travel Course Avalanche Skills

  • Introduction to the avalanche phenomenon - snowpack layering, triggers, avalanche types, avalanche sizes.
  • Avalanche terrain - slope angles, aspects, altitude/elevation, trigger points, terrain traps, avalanche terrain exposure scale
  • Conditions - Identifying signs of snow instability
  • Decision making
  • Safe travel techniques
  • Route finding in avalanche terrain
  • Rescue - Avalanche Transceivers, probing, shovelling technique

Backcountry Travel Course Ski Touring & Split boarding Skills

  • Proper use of backcountry equipment
  • Route planning
  • Assessing mountain terrain for safest route of ascent & descent
  • Identifying mountain and snowpack areas of concern
  • Efficient route setting in avalanche terrain
  • Group management ascending and descending


Sample Itinerary

Evening Lecture

Meet at 7.00pm at the Queenstown Mountain Guides Office for a 3 hour lecture and slide show on the avalanche phenomenon.

Day 1

Meet at ski area at 9am. Full field day in the backcountry. Skills covered on day one will include use of backcountry travel equipment, use of avalanche rescue equipment, identifying avalanche terrain, and movement through avalanche terrain.

Day 2

Meet at ski area at 9.00am. On day two we do a day tour in the Queenstown backcountry. The focus will be on decision making, route finding, and safe travel techniques.


Map 2014

3 - 12

Map 2014

2.5 days



Map 2014



2019 Backcountry Travel Course dates:

BT # 1  July 19th - 21st

BT # 2  August 2nd - 4th

BT # 3  August 16th - 18th

Experience Required

Whats Included

The price of the program includes

  • Guide fees
  • Group equipment
  • Department of Conservation concession fees

The price of the program excludes

  • Personal equipment & clothing
  • Ski touring skis, split board, or snow show hire
  • Lift access fees if applicable
  • Avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe (hire available for $40 for 2 days)
  • Lunch & snack food

More Information

equipment listFAQ