Skip to main content


We want more women to thrive in the backcountry ski & splitboard world!

Backcountry Babes is a Backcountry Ski & Spiltboard Guide Company for women. We are an AIARE Course provider and we offer a unique perspective on outdoor adventure in a fun, inclusive, and inspiring learning environment. We hold permits with the United States Forest Service in Tahoe, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Alaska and employ experienced instructors and guides that return to Backcountry Babes year after year.

We support and encourage all women, L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+, black, indigenous, people of color and anyone underrepresented in the backcountry community to join us. Our clients range from age 13 – 67+. Help us create an environment full of camaraderie, support, friendship, and celebration. Men are welcome to join in on the fun in our co-ed courses.

Build on your existing knowledge with courses and trips at a variety of skill levels, from the never-ever beginner to the intermediate/advanced backcountry enthusiast. You can sign up for our AIARE Level 1, AIARE Level 2, AIARE Rescue Courses, Beginner Backcountry Tours, Intermediate Backcountry Tours, Intro to Ski Mountaineering Trips, and international adventure trips. We hope you join us!


backcountry babes with ice axes

Our Guides & Instructors

Our team of instructors, coaches, and guides are industry leaders. We are passionate educators, experienced at our craft and enthusiastic about sharing knowledge.  Our goal is to guide fun experiences AND encourage our students to develop their own skill sets!

All of our avalanche course teachers are qualified by AIARE as Course Leaders or Course Instructors.  We have depth and breadth of experience on our team, including ski patrollers, AMGA Ski Guides, heli guides, avalanche forecasters and snow scientists.  Our guides in Canada are ACMG Ski Guides & ACMG Assistant Ski Guides, our guides in Japan are JMGA Guides. We also hire highly experienced men who support our mission.  All our guides and instructors are highly experienced feminists who support our mission of mentoring women into leadership roles in the outdoors.

OPERATIONAL EXPERIENCE:  So what does “experienced” mean?  We have about 12 core instructors who return year after year, and at our 2022 Staff Training we tallied our experience in “years working in the snow and avalanche industry,” and the results are impressive. Our 12 core instructors have a total of 62 years of operational experience at Backcountry Babes and 142 years in the snow and avalanche industry in general.  On average, our guides have 5 years of experience at Backcountry Babes and 12 years in the industry.  When you sign up for a trip, you will have 1 or 2 guides from our core roster and possibly a “new-to-Backcountry Babes” instructor paired with us. We bring new folks into our instructor team, to keep the team growing!

Cait Bourgault

Our Story – 25 Years!

Backcountry Babes was founded in 1997 by Leslie Ross as “Babes in the Backcountry,” in Breckenridge, Colorado.  As a 3x champion telemark skier, Leslie recognized the lack of women participating in backcountry skiing as well as the lack of available equipment and gear. Her passion for telemarking and backcountry travel provoked her to create a business that would provide more instructional opportunities and adventures for women to get outdoors in an inspiring environment. She created learn-to-tele clinics at ski areas, which led her to want to teach avalanche courses to women, and she became one of the first AIARE course instructors.  From there she built our BC and Japan trips, which have continued running annually through 2023!

Leslie built a team of instructors and clients that have kept returning through the years!

In 2014 the Backcountry Babes ownership torch was passed to Emily Hargraves.  Emily is an enthusiastic backcountry skier, backpacker, cyclist and river runner who has led outdoor education trips all over the world. She is delighted to have the opportunity to carry on decades of Backcountry Babes tradition and history and also to explore what new possibilities lay on the horizon for the Babes.

Emily is an AIARE Course Leader and you may meet her teaching an avalanche course in her home base in Tahoe with her avalanche dog in training.  She also enjoys joining our guided international trips, so you might ski with her in Japan, BC, Iceland or Chile!

Backcountry Babes continues to operate in Alaska, Colorado, California, New Hampshire, New Mexico, British Columbia, Japan, and wherever adventure bring us.  We love sharing the adventures of quality trips, with excellent instruction, adventure, and fun with our clients.

Meet Our Guides
Women's New Mexico Ski

What Our Customers Say

Perfect for learning the basics - I hadn't used my new skis, bindings or skins before the Backcountry Babes Beginner Tour. I learned that and so much more, navigating, reading the avy bulletin, putting a trip plan in place. The course content was just what I was looking for.

Maureen NDenver, CO

I feel way more confident using my beacon, shovel and probe. I feel more confident about making more conservative decisions about routes to take, things to look for, and whether or no to even go out. It also made me realize how much more I have to learn!

Jenny LSan Francisco, CA

I learned a lot about identifying safe/unsafe terrain, analyzing snow conditions, rescue, evaluating the snow and how that impacts if/where/when we can ski. ALL of the was super beneficial to my future backcountry excursions.

Alyssa WColorado Springs, CO

Great base knowledge to practical application being outdoors, doing beacon search, evaluating terrain, digging snow pits to understand layers and the way they interact with each other. I though the instructors were really great at creating an inquisitive environment for us students to ask questions. They prompted us to think creatively and thoroughly about problems as well as prompted us to think more deeply about issues that might not be first in mind for a new backcountry skier.

Lizzie JSan Francisco, CA

Our trip to Japan was phenomenal! As the location becomes more exotic, it becomes more important to have a guide who knows the area and knows where to find the goodness; Check. Combined with fantastic organization and a small group, we spent all of our time in the enjoyment zone. Kudos to Emily for getting all the elements just right, and creating a lifetime memory.

Casey SSanta Fe, NV

This course was a great refresher on avy safety for me. it's been several years since taking AIARE 1!
Both instructors were great - very supportive, explained everything well, and fun to be around.

Gracie SGolden, CO

I appreciated the balance of classroom education and field application. All of the instructors were AWESOME. Approachable, allowing for all of us to ask any question.

Trent KDenver, CO