We’ve added an FAQ section to answer some common questions asked about our trips and courses. Choose a link below to see common questions and answers for different trips/courses. If you have further questions or you don’t see your answer here feel free to contact us by phone or email (email@example.com or 415/729-5046).
Question: Can I snowshoe in my AIARE level 1 course?
Answer: Yes, you can snowshoe in our AIARE level 1 course. Snowshoes, while not as efficient as alpine touring set skis, are totally reasonable for the distances we hike to study snow in avalanche terrain. Because snowshoeing is inherently less efficient, you’ll be slower hiking up and down than people in AT gear, and that is totally fine. We travel and learn together at all rates of travel. Often there are 2-3 snowshoers in each of our classes.
Question: Can I splitboard in my AIARE level 1 course? Can I snowboard with snowshoes?
Answer: Yes, you can splitboard in our AIARE level 1 course. Yes, you can snowboard with snowshoes. (See snowshoeing question above.) Snowboarders: please bring 1 or 2 collapsible poles to help move yourself along flat traverses that may come up.
Question: How much touring and skiing will we do on an AIARE level 1 course?
Answer: The purpose of our AIARE level 1 is to learn decision-making in avalanche terrain. We get out in the backcountry, study snow, make terrain choices, and travel on our gear for anywhere from 1-4 hours a day. During an AIARE level 1 course we tour only as much as needed to meet our curriculum objectives of studying snow and making terrain choices, so we don’t tour and ski very far or long. We all love hiking a ton and getting lots of turns, but that’s not the focus of our AIARE level 1 courses! If you want a field day that has more focus on skinning up, skiing down, getting lots of great backcountry turns, please register for our Beginner or Intermediate Ski Tours!
Question: Do I have to be a good skier to take my AIARE level 1?
Answer: Nope! The purpose of AIARE level 1 is to learn decision making skills in avalanche terrain. We tour outside to observe avalanche terrain, snow conditions, etc. You must know how to hike uphill in your gear, and you must be comfortable traveling downhill in your gear on ungroomed terrain. You don’t need to be a ripping shredder or make perfect turns. However, a basic level of comfort on green/blue steepness of terrain, ability to avoid obstacles and travel through uneven snow are musts for you to be able to safely tour with the class.
Question: I’ve never used my beacon, shovel or probe before. Is that okay?
Answer: Yes, we will show you how to effectively use your beacon, shovel and probe in AIARE level 1. To get the most out of the class, know the basics before you come. Put fresh batteries in your beacon, know how to turn it on/off, try toggling from transceiver mode to search mode, and read the manual for the basics. Assemble and disassemble your shovel and probe a few times. If you are familiar with your gear before the course, you’ll be able to focus on what our instructors will be teaching: effective companion rescue techniques.
Question: This is my first time using my backcountry skis. Is that okay?
Answer: We highly encourage you to use your backcountry set up before your AIARE level 1 class starts. Go for a short tour in the snow. Step into and out of your bindings, toggle from tour mode to downhill mode, put on your skins, take your skins off. This will help you be proficient with your systems so that you can focus on learning avalanche curriculum rather than figuring out your gear. Also you may discover that you need to trim your skins, adjust your bindings, etc. It’s also a good idea to try your backcountry skis at the ski resort so that you can get used to how they ski downhill, too. Want to learn the basics from a Backcountry Babes pro? Join our Beginner Backcountry Ski Tour! This will get you off the lifts, and into the backcountry with a professional instructor for an evening session and a full day in the mountains. Plus you’ll get introduced to a ton of Babes who are also just getting into backcountry skiing, too.
Question: I’ve been touring in the backcountry for years and am just finally getting around to taking my AIARE level 1. Is this course good for me?
Answer: Yes, this is a perfect class for you. Your hands-on experience in the backcountry and comfort on your gear and equipment will help you to get a ton out of this class. Many people say that they are excited to have the knowledge to backup their decision making in the backcountry, and the knowledge to express concerns in the backcountry to their travel partners.
Question: Am I the correct age to take this course?
Answer: We’ve had people of all ages from 13-75 in our classes. It is best for people ages 17 and under to have a parent/guardian take the class with them. If you have a concern about your ability or physical fitness for this class, please email and call and we can answer any questions you might have. firstname.lastname@example.org; 415-729-5046
Question: How do you pronounce AIARE?
Answer: Like the word airy; rhymes with fairy! It stands for the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education. AIARE collects research and data, writes curriculum & course materials, trains instructors to be AIARE-qualified avalanche instructors, increases the public awareness of avalanches and avalanche safety, develops an international network of professional avalanche educators, and provides professional development. More at http://aiare.info
Question: Do I need a lift ticket?
Answer: No, you do not need a lift ticket for any of our courses. We are self-propelled uphill! On our Janet’s trips we take a chairlift part of the way up….we provide your lift ticket for that ride. At Silverton we include your lift ticket in our trip price.
Question: What ability level do most people have on the trip?
Answer: On our Canada Hut trips, we love to ski powder together! Our group is comfortable skiing downhill on ungroomed steep blue/ black diamond terrain. We are a welcoming, encouraging, fun group of skiiers and love sharing the experience of skiing powder with old and new friends.
Question: I have lots of sidecountry, slackcountry and/or bootpacking experience, but very little true backcountry experience. Is a hut trip good for me?
Answer: In a word, yes! If you enjoy going out of bounds at the resort, entering lift accessed backcountry terrain, bootpacking, or any version of the “side country,” you are an awesome candidate for learning to backcountry ski with an alpine touring set up. Our guides and group members will take you under their wings, show you how to do it, share tech tips, and help you fly. Several of our long-time returning hut trippers started as experienced resort skiiers who were newbies to the backcountry on our Canada trips. While it is relatively easy to learn to ski uphill, learning to ski downhill on ungroomed terrain takes time and experience. If you enjoy skiing blue/black off-piste terrain, then you are at the right level of downhill skiing for this trip.
Question: What are the other women on the trip like?
Answer: We have a mix of returning and new clients on our Canada hut trips. We are ages 30-65+, fun, inclusive, friendly, funny women who like to ski with other women. People fly in from all over the world. Last year our group included women from Colorado, Montana, Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Chile, and Canada. We are architects, website designers, financial advisors, reporters, professors, mothers of young children, mothers of grown children, software developers, consultants, nurses, and more. Our clients enjoy not having to plan the details of a ski trip, knowing they are in the good hands of Canadian Mountain guides, look forward to good Backcountry Babes company, and enjoy 3 catered meals a day served in a casual environment, a nicely stoked sauna, oh yeah, and the powder skiing!!
Q: What are the ages of women who come to Powder Creek?
A: In 2016 the group included people ages, 59; 57; 50; 42; 38; 40; 57; 47; 50; 59; 65; 36 and 31 (that’s me!). No matter your age, you will fit right in with our group.
Q: Can I bring my teenager with me on a Backcountry Babes trip?
A: Yes, definitely. Your backcountry skiing teenager is welcome to join us on a trip, together with you. Typically teenagers really benefit from meeting women who are successful leaders in their fields on these ski trips. Oh, and we think it’s fun! Naturally, we’ll end up treating your teenager just the same as all our women in the group.
Q: What are the Co-Ed AIARE courses like?
A: Our unique, all women’s trips have shaped our attitude to be inclusive, supportive, uplifiting and inspiring. We’re proud of the positive learning environment we have created together, and we have found it easy to carry the same attitude into our co-ed courses. Guess what? Our male clients also appreciate our supportive, comfortable, non-competitive atmosphere.
Q: Do you learn the same material in a Co-Ed Course as an All Women’s Course? Is the touring the same?
A: Yes, and yes.
Q: I’m noticing that I have a male instructor for my trip. I thought Backcountry Babes was by women, for women? What’s up?
A: Yes, our mission is to support women into leadership roles in the outdoors. We do hire women, men and people who support this mission. Currently there are a very limited number of women who hold lead instructor qualifications with AIARE. So it makes it even more important for us to offer all women’s courses, give scholarships, encourage our students to become instructors, and foster our course instructors into the lead role! We believe that men and EVERYONE are an important part of the process of creating gender equality in our society. (Many researchers and social scientists back this idea, too) We strive to hire instructors who know what it’s like to learn about the mountains, enjoy helping people learn how to be proficient in the outdoors, and support women’s leadership in the outdoors.
Q: Why are there so few mountain guides who are women?
A: Here’s a quote from the AMGA website: “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction work holds the lowest percentage of female representation among surveyed occupations, comprising roughly nine percent. The second lowest? Ski guiding.” As of 2016 only 11% of American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) Ski Guides are women. Factor in AMGA Alpine Guides and Rock Guides, and the number drops to 8% according to Jane Anderson, logistics coordinator. Ski Guide Sheldon Kerr provides one explanation, “Women tend to lack mentorship because folks who are established in the industry tend to mentor people they see themselves in,” says Kerr of the male-dominated field. “So it’s not necessarily some sort of conscious discrimination; it’s unconscious bias. For that reason, we have smaller, fewer opportunities to be with the mentors we’d like to have.” I think that the lack of women ski guides is symptomatic of widespread, systematic gender inequality throughout our society. But, hey, that’s a really huge problem so let’s tackle what we can, piece by piece. Since we love skiing and we’re in the ski industry, we’ll start with supporting more women on their path to leadership in the ski industry.
Q: What becomes possible when men and women are operating together with all full authenticity, all together?
A: Good question. Check out Rayona Sharpnack, the Institute for Women’s Leadership; the Institute for Gender Partnership, Men as Allies, and the Better Man Conference.
Q: How do you support women?
A: One way we support women is through our Women’s Avalanche Education Scholarship Fund. Women can apply to get funding for AIARE Level 1 and 2 courses provided by Backcountry Babes. Second, we grow our course offerings to provide more employment opportunities for women instructors and guides. Third, we offer a limited number of scholarships for women who would like to take their AIARE level 3 and/or Instructor Training Course through AIARE. Fourth, we create and grow a community of women who like to ski together. Rather nebulous in form, hard to define, and hard to explain, our community is probably the most important piece of it all. You are warmly invited to come to one of our courses, events, or trips. Join the tribe!
Q: Can I do a private trip?
A: Yes, you absolutely can. Before winter starts, you can claim any trip and make it private. Or, tell us what you want in your ideal trip. We can create your ideal trip for you, set you up with an amazing instructor, and we’ll be the point person for you and all your friends. Send us an email to email@example.com and we’ll get your private trip started.