March 8-10, 2019

Registration & Courses

The Mt Washington Backcountry Ski Festival is designed for you! We’re offering a wide selection of Full Day Courses to help you advance your skills, whether you’re looking to improve your turns, learn travel and rescue techniques, take a women-only ski course, or focus on a variety of other skills. A 3-day AAIRE Level 1 avalanche course is also available. Try out a variety of demo gear, including skis with mounted bindings, from our festival sponsors. And don’t forget to join us for après ski and evening events.

March 8-10, 2019

A gathering in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for backcountry skiers & riders of all abilities. Presented by The North Face.

Registration Menu

AIARE I Weekend Registration

This is a 3 day course beginning Friday March 8th at 9am. There is limited availability and it's a popular course, so sign up early. Includes:

  • AIARE 1 Three Day Course (course materials included)
  • beacon, probe and shovel use during course
  • ticket to Friday and Saturday evening events
  • access to vendor camp and après ski at Ragged Mountain Equipment
  • access to demo equipment (subject to availability)
  • festival poster
  • discounted festival t-shirt (optional add-on, available through February 15, 2019)

Full Day Clinic and Weekend Registration | Two Full Day Clinics and Weekend Registration

Choose to take clinics/courses on one or two days, includes:

  • full day clinic/course of your choice
  • ticket to Friday and Saturday evening events
  • access to vendor camp and après ski at Ragged Mountain Equipment
  • access to demo equipment (subject to availability)
  • festival poster
  • discounted festival t-shirt (optional add-on, available through February 15, 2019)

Full Weekend Registration

  • ticket to Friday and Saturday evening presentations
  • access to vendor camp and après ski at Ragged Mountain Equipment
  • access to demo equipment (subject to availability)
  • festival poster
  • discounted festival t-shirt (optional add-on, available through February 15, 2019)

Evening Events

  • tickets available to Friday and/or Saturday evening events
  • this ticket does not include access to the vendor camp, demos, clinics, après ski, or t-shirt

Policies

Registration Policies

  • Payment is due in full at the time of registration.
  • Payments for the evening presentations are non refundable.
  • For cancellations 30 or more days before the festival, we will refund your payment.
  • For cancellations from 29 to 14 days before the festival, you will receive a credit towards a future course with Synnott Mountain Guides.
  • For cancellations 13 days or less before the festival, you will forfeit your payment (although you may transfer your registration to another person).

Course, Weather, & Snow Conditions Policies

  • Winter weather in the White Mountains can be harsh and variable, please plan ahead for the variety of weather and snow conditions that might be faced.
  • In most cases, we can hold all types of courses despite conditions...but please be prepared to take an alternative course if we need to cancel specific courses.
  • The festival and courses will be held in all types of winter conditions rain or shine.

Demo Policies

  • We will do our best to accommodate you, but please keep in mind equipment demos are on a first come first served basis and are limited.
  • Make sure you have your own equipment in the event that demo gear isn't available.
  • Demos will be lent out on a single day basis.
  • At the time of registration damage waivers will have to be filled out in order to partake in demo usage.

Course Descriptions

Course Notes

Course Notes

  • courses are approximately 8 hours
  • participants should be comfortable spending a full day outside in the mountains
  • final course itineraries and locations will depend on weather, snow conditions, and group ability

Gear Notes

  • backcountry skiers and snowboarders are welcome
  • the best mode of uphill travel would be skis or split boards with skins, but snowshoes are also acceptable
  • a limited amount of demo & rental gear will be available from sponsors, but course participants are encouraged to bring their own gear to ensure availability
  • keep in mind the weather in the White Mountains is variable; conditions could range from mild & sunny to frigid & dumping snow

Suggested Gear

Some courses will have other gear needs, please see the course descriptions or contact us if you have questions.

  • alpine touring or telemark skis or split board with skins
  • comfortable ski/snowboard boots
  • adjustable poles
  • day pack or specialized skiing/climbing pack (approximately 3000 cu. in.)
  • hard shell (Gore-Tex or other waterproof/breathable) pants/bibs and jacket
  • puffy coat (synthetic or down)
  • medium weight fleece jacket
  • fleece or softshell pants
  • long underwear top and bottom
  • ski socks
  • hats (one warm and another lightweight)
  • balaclava or neck warmer
  • 1 pair lightweight gloves for approach
  • 1 pair warm waterproof gloves or mitts
  • goggles and sunglasses
  • headlamp with extra batteries
  • 2 liters of water or thermos
  • lunch and snacks for each day
  • lip balm
  • sun screen (very important)
  • helmet

Optional Gear

  • phone
  • repair kit
  • camera
  • altimeter watch
  • first aid kit
  • Mt. Washington map
  • compass

 

Intro to Backcountry Skiing

This course is for skiers and snowboarders looking for an introduction to the world of backcountry skiing in the White Mountains. We’re lucky to have some of the best backcountry ski terrain in the Northeast. Your day will start with an orientation and gear check. You’ll learn how backcountry skiing & snowboarding equipment works and also how to securely put on your skins. Last but not least, we will review the latest Mount Washington Avalanche Center avalanche advisory and Mount Washington Observatory forecast before heading out. Along the way, we'll discuss a number of subjects such as:

  • safe route finding
  • identifying avalanche terrain and other objective hazards
  • snow stability
  • skinning and downhill technique
  • staying comfortable in the mountains during winter

The location of this course will depend on conditions and the group ability level, but may include:

  • Sherburne Trail (possibly into lower angle areas of Tuckerman Ravine) on Mt. Washington
  • Gulf of Slides Trail (possibly into lower angle areas of the Gulf of Slides) on Mt. Washington
  • Doublehead Ski and Black Mountain Ski Trails in Jackson
  • Wildcat Valley Trail

Avalanche Safety Equipment:

  • This course may travel in or approach avalanche terrain and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel) is required.

Intro to Backcountry Snowboarding

This course is for snowboarders looking for an introduction to the world of backcountry snowboarding in the White Mountains. We’re lucky to have some of the best backcountry terrain in the Northeast. Your day will start with an orientation and gear check. We will review the latest Mount Washington Avalanche Center avalanche advisory and Mount Washington Observatory forecast before heading out.

Outcomes:

  • Gain basic route-finding and navigation skills.
  • Improve ability to snowboard in backcountry terrain.
  • Learn how to stay warm and comfortable.
  • Learn and practice efficient touring and transition techniques.
  • Feel confident planning day outings - know where you're going and what resources are available, basic awareness of how to avoid avalanche terrain.

Itinerary (approximate, subject to change based on conditions):

  • 7:30am - What's in your pack? (What to bring on a day trip, what to ALWAYS have with you).
  • 8am - How to pick a route.
  • 9am - Skin up the Sherburne Trail, Gulf of Slides Trail, or Doublehead depending on group and conditions.
  • 4pm - Back at cars.

Prerequisite Experience & Equipment:

  • This course is intended to familiarize intermediate/advanced riders with trip planning and backcountry travel technique. No backcountry experience is necessary, although riders should have excellent control and confidence on a board.
  • Acceptable means of uphill travel would be a splitboard with skins or snowshoes.

Avalanche Safety Equipment:

  • This course may travel in or approach avalanche terrain and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel) is required.

Course Guide:

This course is being led by Jordan Parks. She grew up on the competitive snowboard circuit, participating in such events as the US Open. After traveling around North and South America for three years with her sponsors, Jordan turned her attention to art school and backcountry riding. Jordan is a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and has taken the AIARE 1 avalanche course.

Intro to Backcountry Skiing w/ No Avalanche Terrain

This course is the same as Intro to Backcountry Skiing, but we will not be traveling into avalanche terrain and you will not need a beacon/shovel/probe. This course is a good fit if you want to check out backcountry skiing/riding in the White Mountains, but aren't interested in avalanche prone terrain or don't plan to have avalanche rescue gear.

This course is for skiers and snowboarders looking for an introduction to the world of backcountry skiing in the White Mountains. We’re lucky to have some of the best backcountry ski terrain in the Northeast. Your day will start with an orientation and gear check. You’ll learn how backcountry skiing & snowboarding equipment works and also how to securely put on your skins. Last but not least, we will review the latest Mount Washington Observatory forecast before heading out. Along the way, we'll discuss a number of subjects such as:

  • skinning and downhill technique
  • staying comfortable in the mountains during winter

The location of this course will depend on conditions and the group ability level, but may include:

  • Sherburne Trail
  • Gulf of Slides Trail
  • Doublehead Ski and Black Mountain Ski Trails in Jackson
  • Wildcat Valley Trail
  • other trail and glades in the White Mountains are a possibility

Women's Intro to Backcountry Skiing

This course is for skiers and snowboarders looking for an introduction to the world of backcountry skiing in the White Mountains. We’re lucky to have some of the best backcountry ski terrain in the Northeast. Your day will start with an orientation and gear check. You’ll learn how backcountry skiing & snowboarding equipment works and also how to securely put on your skins. Last but not least, we will review the latest Mount Washington Avalanche Center avalanche advisory and Mount Washington Observatory forecast before heading out. Along the way, we'll discuss a number of subjects such as:

  • safe route finding
  • identifying avalanche terrain and other objective hazards
  • snow stability
  • skinning and downhill technique
  • staying comfortable in the mountains during winter

The location of this course will depend on conditions and the group ability level, but may include:

  • Sherburne Trail (possibly into lower angle areas of Tuckerman Ravine) on Mt. Washington
  • Gulf of Slides Trail (possibly into lower angle areas of the Gulf of Slides) on Mt. Washington
  • Doublehead Ski and Black Mountain Ski Trails in Jackson
  • Wildcat Valley Trail

Avalanche Safety Equipment:

  • This course may travel in or approach avalanche terrain and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel) is required.

Intermediate Backcountry Skiing

This course is for skiers and snowboarders looking to take the next step into backcountry skiing in the White Mountains. For experience level, this course is appropriate if you've already backcountry skied on trails and possibly in some higher terrain on Mount Washington.  Your day will start with an orientation, gear check, and we'll review backcountry skiing/riding basics if needed. Last but not least, we will review the latest Mount Washington Avalanche Center avalanche advisory and Mount Washington Observatory forecast before heading out. Along the way, we'll discuss a number of subjects such as:

  • safe route finding
  • identifying avalanche terrain and other objective hazards
  • snow stability
  • skinning and downhill technique
  • staying comfortable in the mountains during winter

The location of this course will depend on conditions and the group ability level, but may include:

  • Sherburne Trail into moderately steep areas of Tuckerman Ravine on Mt. Washington
  • Gulf of Slides Trail into moderately steep areas of the Gulf of Slides on Mt. Washington
  • Mt. Hale

Avalanche Safety Equipment:

  • This course may travel in or approach avalanche terrain and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel) is required.

Advanced Backcountry Skiing

This course is for more experienced skiers and snowboarders looking to ski steeper and/or above treeline terrain in the White Mountains. Your day will start with an orientation and gear check. We'll review the latest Mount Washington Avalanche Center avalanche advisory and Mount Washington Observatory forecast before heading out. Along the way, we'll discuss a number of subjects such as:

  • safe route finding
  • identifying avalanche terrain and other objective hazards
  • snow stability
  • skinning and skiing/snowboarding techniques in steep ski terrain

The location of this course will depend on conditions and the group ability level, but may include:

  • Mt. Washington: Tuckerman Ravine, Gulf of Slides, Oakes Gulf, Ammonoosuc Ravine
  • steep gullies on Mount Webster in Crawford Notch

The Advanced Backcountry Skiing course would be appropriate for skiers & snowboarders that already have backcountry skiing experience, although expert resort skiers that have mountain travel experience can also join.

Avalanche Safety Equipment:

  • This course may travel in or approach avalanche terrain and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel) is required.

Avalanche Awareness & Rescue

The Avalanche Awareness & Rescue course is for backcountry skiers & snowboarders looking to take the first step towards learning about avalanches, what causes them, how they can be avoided, and how to respond to an avalanche incident. You’ll start with some handouts & discussion before heading into the mountains. We will cover the following subjects:

  • mountain weather including checking out the Mount Washington Observatory forecast and Mount Washington Avalanche Center advisory
  • how to identify avalanche terrain
  • basic route finding & safe travel in avalanche terrain
  • basic snowpit & snowpack analysis
  • transceiver training & mock rescue

Course locations will be condition dependent, but are often a tour into either Tuckerman Ravine or The Gulf of Slides on Mount Washington. Other possibilities include Ammonoosuc Ravine (Mount Washington) or some of the gullies and open terrain in Crawford Notch.

Avalanche Safety Equipment:

  • This course may travel in or approach avalanche terrain and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel) is required.

AIARE 1 (3 Day Course)

This is a 3 day course from Friday through Sunday. An avalanche transceiver, shovel, and probe are provided during the course; however you are encouraged to bring your own if you own it. The Mt Washington Backcountry Ski Festival AIARE class instructors are able to not only teach the AIARE standard curriculum, but also draw on their own personal experiences and passion for avalanche awareness to prepare you for your own adventures. Upon completion of this class, you will be certified by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education…a globally recognized organization whose mission is to “Save Lives through Avalanche Awareness.” You will also be receiving from us an AIARE Field Book and the AIARE 1 Student Manual.

The AIARE 1 is a three day (24 hours) introduction to avalanche hazard management. The course is expected to:

  • Provide a basic understanding of avalanches
  • Describe a framework for decision making and risk management in avalanche terrain
  • Focus on identifying the right questions, rather than on providing “answers.”
  • Give lessons and exercises that are practically oriented, useful, and applicable in the field.

Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn rescue techniques required to find and dig up a buried person (if an avalanche occurs and someone in the party is caught). A final debrief includes a knowledge quiz to test student comprehension and to give feedback to instructors on instructional tools. Students are encouraged and counseled on how to apply the skills learned and told that no course can fully guarantee safety, either during or after course completion. A link is made to a future AIARE Level 2 course.

At the end of the course the student should be able to:

  • Plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain
  • Recognize avalanche terrain
  • Describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain
  • Learn and apply effective companion rescue

Instructional sessions (24 hours including both class and field instruction):

1. Introduction to the Avalanche Phenomena

  • Types and characteristics of avalanches
  • Avalanche motion
  • Size classification
  • The mountain snowpack: an introduction to metamorphism and layering

2. Observations and Information Gathering

  • Field observation techniques
  • Snowpack tests: rutschblock, compression test
  • Avalanche danger factors or “Red Flags”
  • Observation checklist
  • Avalanche danger scale

3. Trip Planning and Preparation

  • Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment, and selection
  • Route finding and travel techniques
  • Decision making and Human Factors

4. Companion Rescue and Equipment

No previous experience is required. Appropriate physical and mental fitness is necessary. Participants will be required to perform physically strenuous activities.

Ski Mountaineering - 1 Day Course

The Ski Mountaineering course, like its name, is a combination of backcountry skiing and mountaineering. In addition to searching out good ski runs, we'll focus on mountain travel and reaching summits with skis. Some techniques and topics covered will include:

  • crampon and ice axe use for reaching and traveling in ski terrain
  • transitioning from foot travel to skiing in steep terrain (chopping ledges and making stable platforms in snow)
  • some rope work such as rappelling into steep ski terrain
  • snow and ski/board anchors
  • ski and split board travel on glaciers
  • recognizing avalanche terrain and how to safely travel thought it
  • staying comfortable during harsh winter conditions in the mountains

Depending on conditions, this course will most likely take place on Mount Washington or other Presidential Range peaks. Specific locations may include:

  • Tuckerman Ravine
  • Gulf of Slides
  • Huntington Ravine
  • Great Gulf
  • Ammonoosuc Ravine

Other possibilities include the steep gullies in Crawford Notch.

Gear Notes

  • technical gear such as crampons, ice axe, harness, and ropes will be used for this course (this gear will be provided by Synnott Mountain Guides, but you are encouraged to bring your own if you have it)

Avalanche Safety Equipment:

  • This course may travel in or approach avalanche terrain and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel) is required.

Ski Mountaineering - 2 Day Course

The 2 Day Ski Mountaineering course will expand upon the one day course, allowing more time for practicing techniques. We will also focus one day on reaching and skiing a peak in the Presidential Range.

The Ski Mountaineering course, like its name, is a combination of backcountry skiing and mountaineering. In addition to searching out good ski runs, we'll focus on mountain travel and reaching summits with skis. Some techniques and topics covered will include:

  • crampon and ice axe use for reaching and traveling in ski terrain
  • transitioning from foot travel to skiing in steep terrain (chopping ledges and making stable platforms in snow)
  • some rope work such as rappelling into steep ski terrain
  • snow and ski/board anchors
  • ski and split board travel on glaciers
  • recognizing avalanche terrain and how to safely travel thought it
  • staying comfortable during harsh winter conditions in the mountains

Depending on conditions, this course will most likely take place on Mount Washington or other Presidential Range peaks. Specific locations may include:

  • Tuckerman Ravine
  • Gulf of Slides
  • Huntington Ravine
  • Great Gulf
  • Ammonoosuc Ravine

Other possibilities include the steep gullies in Crawford Notch.

Gear Notes

  • technical gear such as crampons, ice axe, harness, and ropes will be used for this course (this gear will be provided by Synnott Mountain Guides, but you are encouraged to bring your own if you have it)

Avalanche Safety Equipment:

  • This course may travel in or approach avalanche terrain and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel) is required.

Huntington Ravine Gully Skiing

While not as well known for backcountry skiing as its neighbor (Tuckerman Ravine), Huntington Ravine has great ski terrain. The catch is that much of the ski terrain requires navigating over or around small ice cliffs during the ascent and descent. The size of these ice cliffs changes depending on the season's snowpack; in big snow years, it's sometimes possible to ski a run like Central Gully on all snow.

Your day will start with an orientation and gear check. We'll review the latest Mount Washington Avalanche Center avalanche advisory and Mount Washington Observatory forecast before heading out. Along the way, we'll discuss a number of subjects such as:

  • safe route finding
  • identifying avalanche terrain and other objective hazards
  • snow stability
  • skinning and skiing/snowboarding techniques in steep ski terrain
  • climbing gullies with ski gear
  • snow and ski anchors
  • rappeling to enter steep ski terrain or avoid small ice cliffs

This course would be appropriate for experienced backcountry skiers & snowboarders that feel comfortable making controlled turns on steep exposed terrain. A climbing or mountaineering background would be helpful.

Gear Notes

  • technical gear such as crampons, ice axe, harness, and ropes will be used for this course (this gear will be provided by Synnott Mountain Guides, but you are encouraged to bring your own if you have it)

Avalanche Safety Equipment:

  • This course may travel in or approach avalanche terrain and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel) is required.

White Mountain Exploration

This course is for more experienced skiers and snowboarders looking to explore more obscure areas in the White Mountains. Depending on the objective, you may experience a long approach, trail breaking, and fights with the dense New Hampshire forest. Like any good adventure, you may spend more time on the approach than actual skiing.

Your day will start with an orientation and gear check. We'll review the latest Mount Washington Avalanche Center avalanche advisory and Mount Washington Observatory forecast before heading out. Along the way, we'll discuss a number of subjects such as:

  • safe route finding
  • identifying avalanche terrain and other objective hazards
  • snow stability
  • skinning and skiing/snowboarding techniques in steep and variable ski terrain

The location of this course will depend on conditions and the group ability level, but there is no limit to the slides and ravines we can explore in the White Mountains. You may be sworn to secrecy depending on the location!

Avalanche Safety Equipment:

  • This course may travel in or approach avalanche terrain and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, probe, shovel) is required.