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Mountain Navigation – Breckenridge/Vail

Mountain Navigation – Breckenridge/Vail


Location - Colorado, Breckenridge

January 20, 2023 - January 20, 2023 February 17, 2023 - February 17, 2023 March 10, 2023 - March 10, 2023


Knowing where you are and where you’re going is an essential skill and safety component when traveling in the backcountry.  In this course we’ll focus on all things navigation including reading diverse maps, compass use, UTM coordinates, tour planning and various GPS platforms.  This course includes a complimentary 3 month trial GAIA subscription, a popular app for backcountry travel.

This course begins with an introductory online evening session followed by a day in the field with your instructor. Backcountry Babes guides and educators have years of backcountry skiing experience, ranging from professional ski patrollers, AIARE avalanche course instructors, cat ski guides, and AMGA Ski Guides. We love teaching Backcountry Babes courses so we can help more women access the backcountry and do so in a supportive, fun, and encouraging learning environment.

If you are eager to expand your knowledge and familiarity with backcountry navigation, this course is for you.

Duration: 1 Online Evening Session, 1 Full Tour Day
Activity Level: Moderate
Required Skill Level: An Introductory course or experience backcountry skiing is important for this course.  We’ll cover valuable navigation skills including map, compass and GPS.  Basics map familiarity is helpful for this course and will maximize your learning outcomes but is not essential.  Due to winter conditions, participants must have skis, splitboard or snowshoes for this course.  Basic downhill techniques and an adequate fitness level are required.

Course Dates:

Jan 18 Online Session and Jan 20 Field Day

Feb 15 Online Session and Feb 17 Field Day 

March 8st Online Session and March 10 Field Day 

About the Mountain Navigation Course


Evening Online Classroom Session

6:30pm - 8:30pm

Tonight’s session is focused on the basics including an introduction to USGS maps, compass use and digital mapping apps.  There is so much to cover with maps so be sure to bring your notebook and ask questions.

All Day Field Day

8:30am - 3:30pm

Meeting at the trailhead, the day will begin with revisiting the online sessions components and expand from there.  Your instructor will continue building complexity as the day progresses reserving ample time for student practice and leading.

What to Expect

  • Gain an introduction to digital and non-digital navigation tools
  • Deepen understanding of how to use all the features of navigation apps
  • Practice route planning
  • Travel off the skin track in the backcountry
  • Gain confidence micro route finding through terrain
  • Tips and tricks for route-finding in poor visibility
  • Build an understanding of what avalanche problems might be found in certain terrain
  • Comfortable and fun learning atmosphere
  • Attentive, experienced, & professionally-certified instructors
  • Engaging online classroom and field session
  • Edifying practical experience to build confidence
  • Complimentary 3 month GAIA app subscription
  • A great preparatory course for AIARE Level 2 and beyond
  • We’ll be skiing downhill on ungroomed snow. Must be comfortable avoiding unmarked obstacles and skiing in control on uneven snow.  Your skiing doesn’t need to look good, but we do want you to have downhill skiing skills and survival ski skills (side slipping, wedging, traversing, etc.)

Gear Needed

  • Compass
  • Smartphone & online mapping tool(s) — your instructor will advise
  • Backcountry skis or splitboard
  • Ski poles
  • Ski or snowboard boots
  • Climbing skins
  • Avalanche beacon, avalanche probe, avalanche shovel in good working order
  • Backpack/daypack
  • Outerwear and warm layers (hand warmers can be nice)
  • Appropriate food & drink for the day


Field Time

Classroom Time

Getting There

FLY: To Denver and take a shuttle or rental car to Summit County.

DRIVE: To our trailheads in the Vail/Breckenridge area.  Our field day location is typically Mt Baldy but it’s possible to meet at any of our other USFS permitted locations. If you are looking to book lodging, Dillon, Frisco, and Breck are all fairly central for this course.  Exact field day location is weather and condition dependent. You will receive specific field day location information during our online evening session.

Backcountry Babes is an equal opportunity service provider and employer. Backcountry Babes operates under special use permit from the USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest Ranger District and Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District.


It was beneficial in so many ways, just getting more time on the mountain uphill with new gear, and being able to ask lots of obvious and non obvious questions in a really educational and fun environment. Abby also offered a lot of content I wouldn’t have thought to ask, and it was all super fun and non competitive. Great prep for my Avi 1 the following weekend, I learned a lot and had a great time. The layering and packing education was key, as well as getting a start on understanding planning and research so I can start to get out on my own.

Julianne G.Intro to Backcountry Skiing

Built confidence, started friendships, and provided a good level of intro knowledge

Sachi K.Intro to Backcountry Skiing

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

This course was beneficial in so many ways – We lived backcountry touring for a couple of days and got to go through the motions of trip planning, avalanche observations, and terrain management. I have a great framework moving forward. Our instructors Kirsten, Casey, and Janine did a great job working together. I really liked hearing different perspectives, experiences and styles.

Nathan LLittleton, CO

There is an incredibly positive and high energy stoke level of the female-empowered AND co-ed classroom environment. It is cool to hear our students discuss the value of the learning environment–enjoying growth through our women’s empowerment focus and recognizing the reality that future teamwork will consist of co-ed teams in the backcountry.

Anne St. ClairLead Instructor

This co-ed setup is so cool, as it allows couples to take an AIARE class together in a stigma-free environment where both partners can feel empowered instead of the “token” female among males or vice versa taking an avalanche course. It really flows well with what AIARE tries to accomplish and I think everyone in the group really enjoyed this format and how well the group dynamics worked.

Mike BortnowskiAIARE Avalanche Level 1 Instructor

It was a terrific introduction to backcountry ski touring – I’d never even tried using the setup before, and this course gave me exactly what I was looking for in terms of introducing me to the fundamentals.

Erica P.Intro to Backcountry Skiing