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We all have questions, we know you have some. Here we try to answer the most common questions you have. If you do not see your question below give us a call or send us an email.

Click on the questions to see the answer...

I want to get into backcountry skiing/riding, where should I start?

We have a couple of options for you depending on what your goals are. 

1. Ski Touring / Splitboarding 101

Before you jump right into an AST Level 1 (blue), we recommend starting with our 1 day 101 courses, fitness level, and skill level are green (beginner).

Learn how to transition quickly, manage those sticky skins, walking techniques, and we will also show you some low-avalanche risk terrain to practice your skills. No previous experience is required, this is an entry-level course that anyone can participate in.

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2. AST Level 1

The AST Level 1 is designed for those looking to get beyond the ski resort. 

Our professional guides will teach you how to plan and carry out a safe backcountry trip, read and use the avalanche bulletin, utilize the vast array of online resources at your disposal, and carry out a proficient rescue in the event of an accident.  

Our AST-1 course is designed to get you the skills you need to get up to speed quickly so you can maximize your fun and safety in the backcountry. 

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You say safety is #1, what does that mean?

All of your guides at Kootenay Backcountry Guides are certified through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (A.C.M.G.) and the Canadian Avalanche Association. 

We use our experience and the vast array of up-to-date avalanche and weather information to make our decisions. We carry communication systems with us, plenty of 1st aid and mountain rescue equipment, and we are trained in their use. We make group decisions and we share our decision-making process with you.  If one person is not comfortable then the group needs to respect that.  

We have the utmost respect for the mountains, that is why we are here doing what we do! 

Do I need to be an expert?

The answer is no.  Kootenay Backcountry Guides are committed to helping everyone enjoy the backcountry. We teach people who are just getting into the backcountry through our Backcountry 101 and Avalanche Skills Training Courses

We can tailor a trip to any group or individual needs.  You should be able to confidently ski on intermediate runs at the ski hill, and not be afraid to tackle the odd black diamond.  

The fitter and more skilled you are the further we can go, but we do not put pressure on you to go past where you feel comfortable.  However, if you have the skills and want to go shred with a bunch of experts who know where to go to get it on, we can do that as well.

Be sure to review our Skill and Fitness Assessments

I have my AST 1, but less than 10 days in the backcountry. What's next?

We recommend before jumping into an AST 2, that you enroll in one of our Managing Avalanche Terrain (MAT) courses. This 1-day field-based course designed to expand on the terrain management taught in the AST 1 and to develop advanced winter backcountry travel skills.

Each of these courses takes place at a different popular touring location in the Kootenay Pass or Whitewater Ski Resort backcountry.

You must have taken your AST Level 1, and be at a BLUE ski and fitness level.

Where can I rent equipment?

Rent Avalanche Safety Gear From KBG

    • Shovel ($27) 
    • Probe ($27) 
    • Transceiver ($77)
    • You can rent the whole package for $100 

      • Airbag Packs ($200) Kootenay Backcountry Guides has a 45L BCA airbag pack available to rent for the week. 

      The ROAM Shop Nelson

      ROAM Shop in Nelson rents transceivers, shovels, and probes. They also rent tech binding-equipped touring skis, boots, poles, and a wide selection of splitboards. 

      We have teamed up with ROAM Shop to offer all registered program participants renting equipment to take one day’s cost of equipment rented from them off the purchase price of new gear. This means you can test out the gear you are thinking of buying. Also, you get a 10% discount on rentals and a 5% discount on all purchases of new equipment at ROAM Shop

      Please make sure you let them know you are a registered participant in a KBG program at the time of purchase!

      Check their rental fleet HERE. Be sure to call ahead and reserve gear as quantities are limited. In addition, you can fill out the Winter Rental Waiver Form and return them as soon as possible.

      What does a typical day look like?

      Start your day by meeting your guide at the Kootenay Backcountry Guides Office located at 198 Baker St, Nelson BC V1L 4H2 (Savot Nelson). 

      We start by going over our waiver, safety,  plan for the day, and final gear check. Depending on the objective this occurs between 7 and 8 am.  If you want to put in a massive day, we start earlier.

      For tours in the Whitewater Ski Resort Backcountry, we head up to the resort and launch from there. Once we arrive on the mountain, we practice our avalanche rescue skills. Then it is off to play in the mountains and having fun! 

      For groups going to Kootenay Pass we will take a 1hour drive to Kootenay Pass and launch from there.

      Fit groups can achieve 2000m or close to 7000 ft of vertical, and more relaxed crews can play until they are tired. Typically we get between two and five runs. We are always monitoring folk's energy levels and make our plans accordingly.  

      We always try to be back at our starting point at least one hour before sunset, which gives us a safety margin. After our final run, we re-group at our cars and end the day with debriefing and make plans for the next day.

      Can I book a private AST Course or Guided Tour?

      You sure can! Wanna book a private with your riding crew? Or bring the family out?

      We can create custom AST courses and Private Guided tours catered specifically to your groups' needs and requests.

      Just drop us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can set that up for you.

      What is your policy for minors (18+younger)?

      9 Minors

      Minors (under 19 years of age) are welcome to participate in our programs on the following terms: 

      1. Minor guests are permitted only as part of a group that includes a legal guardian and with at least one guardian per minor;

      2. Minors must be at least 12 years old and capable of meeting the ability and fitness levels described in the “fitness and skills” section.

      3. The minor’s legal guardian must sign a waiver on behalf of the minor prior to participation, and the minor must sign a waiver dated for the day they turn 19.

      4. The minor’s legal guardian must accompany the minor at all times during our activities.

      If you are a minor and wish to enroll in one of our courses please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

      My course/tour is at Whitewater Ski Resort backcountry and I don't have a pass, is my ticket included?

      At this time 1 Ride tickets are not included in your fee - we plan to have this incorporated for next season.

      1 Ride tickets are available only to Kootenay Backcountry Guides participants and will be billed to the credit card that you registered with.

      Is lunch included?

      Unfortunately, we are just trained guides and not chefs. Everyone must provide their own meals. We recommend bringing the following to ensure you are well fueld for the day:

      • Hot beverage
      • Snacks - fill your pockets! (Granola bars, Power bars, trail mix, etc)
      • Candy/Chocolate -for the extra boost in the afternoon
      • Sandwich/Wrap/Hot lunch (pre-assembled)

      Make sure you are prepared the day before. You will not have time to buy lunch the morning off.

      What's your Cancelation Policy?

      6 Refund and Cancellation Policy

      1. Ski Touring and Avalanche Education is a unique experience that is subject to weather and snowpack conditions. These conditions are constantly changing and add an element of complexity to each day. We reserve the right to cancel a ski touring day, course, or trip, in part or in whole, for any reason, including inclement weather, avalanche conditions, operational emergencies, lack of guides or instructors, or pandemics, or insufficient guest bookings.
      2. Except as provided in these terms and conditions, Kootenay Backcountry Guides will not provide you with a refund or compensation for any expenses related to your booking or trip to anywhere we operate, including airfare, car rentals, and accommodations. 
      3. Kootenay Backcountry Guides strongly recommends that you purchase trip cancellation insurance ( By purchasing trip cancelation insurance you will be able to receive a refund (amount depends on your coverage). 
      4. While we try our best to group skiers and boarders in our courses and mixed groups by ability level, no refunds shall be provided if your group skis or travels at a greater or lesser ability than you.
      5. For private guided trips you are responsible to ensure that the members of your group are of enough ability to complete their touring day. 
      6. Any refunds made at the time of the refund will be refunded in Canadian Dollars via your original payment method. No adjustments will be made to the refund to account for differences in the exchange rate between the time payment was made and the refund was issued.
      7. Full cancellation by Kootenay Backcountry Guides prior to the start of your trip or course. We may cancel your booking at any time prior to the scheduled start time.  If we do, you will be given the opportunity to reschedule to a later date or course in the same season.
        1. If a mutually agreeable date cannot be scheduled that season, we will provide you with a full credit towards a trip or course equal to the value of your trip with Kootenay Backcountry Guides.
        2. In the event, you do not want a credit we will give you a refund equal to the cost of the trip minus a 25% administration fee based on the total value of your activity. 
      8. If you arrive late, forget your equipment, have equipment issues, vehicle issues, challenging road conditions, injure yourself, decide to end your day early for whatever reason, or are instructed to stop skiing because we (in our sole discretion) determine that you are not physically fit or able, no refund will be provided. 

      7 Guest Cancellation.

      If you wish to cancel your booking, you must notify us in writing by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Your cancellation is only effective at the time we confirm the cancellation in writing to you.

      A. Lodge Trips, Traverses, Basecamps, and Lodge Based Avalanche Safety Training

      1. If you cancel your spot on a lodge/traverse/basecamp trip you must notify Kootenay Backcountry Guides in writing. If past the deposit date you will not be refunded and will forfeit the deposit/spot. 
      2. Lifestyle Financial and Capri CMW offers excellent trip cancellation insurance that covers a wide variety of cancellation reasons. In light of this, we do not offer refunds or credits for any Guided Tours or Lodge Based AST courses. Please see section 8. 
      3. If you cancel your booking, you cannot replace yourself with someone else. Kootenay Backcountry Guides will then be responsible for sourcing a replacement for your trip, as we need to ensure group compatibility (experience, ski/ride skills, fitness levels, ect). Kootenay Backcountry Guides reserves the right to re-sell your spot. 
      4. If you have a suitable replacement for yourself (or group member) you must notify Kootenay Backcountry Guides so we can ensure they are a good fit. This requires a $150 admin fee per person. 

      B. Avalanche Safety Training and Courses: 

      1. Lifestyle Financial and Capri CMW offers excellent trip cancellation insurance that covers a wide variety of cancellation reasons. In light of this, we do not offer refunds for AST and Backcountry 101 courses. (See section 8) 
      2. Kootenay Backcountry Guides does not offer refunds on any courses (AST or Backcountry 101). Participants are responsible for managing their own schedules and are expected to keep their original booking date. 
      3. If participants request to switch to another course date this is considered a cancelation and you forfeit your original payment. You will not be refunded for your original course date and must register and pay for the new course date. 
      4. If you request to switch to another course date or cancel and you source a replacement for yourself, you must notify Kootenay Backcountry Guides. If you switch to another date, but have a replacement, you will be charged a $100 admin fee. And if you cancel, but have a replacement, you will be issued a credit, less a $100 admin fee, that expires within a year. No refunds will be given (C.a).

      C. Private Course/Private Guided Tour Group Cancellations: 

      1. The same cancellation policies as above (7.a) apply to private bookings. If you cancel your booking, you forfeit your deposit/final payment.
      2. If you have a private group booked (guiding or courses) a group leader will be responsible for confirming the total number of participants and payment. 
        1. For example, if you book a private group of 5 participants, the group leader will submit a deposit and payment based on 5 participants. If one of the participants backs out, they are not entitled to a refund and either forfeit their payment or find a substitute to take their place. 
        1. Private group bookings payment will be collected from the group leader. It is the group leader’s responsibility to collect individual payments from members of their group. 
        2. If one of the group members decides to cancel they are not entitled to a refund or credit. We do this to protect your booking. 
        3. If you have a suitable replacement for yourself (or group member) you must notify Kootenay Backcountry Guides. This requires a $100 admin fee per person. 
        4. The group leader is responsible for collecting and refunding participants. Kootenay Backcountry Guides will not intervene on behalf of the group leader. 
        5. All individuals of group bookings are able to purchase trip cancellation insurance to protect their purchase. (See section 8 Insurance)

      In light of the refund and cancellation policies set out above, trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended to cover you for unforeseen circumstances that may interrupt or cancel your trip or course with us. We do not provide such insurance but have provided you with a recommended provider. Follow this link for a quote

      1. medical and rescue costs may not be covered by the BC government. We recommend that all participants from out of province or country purchase their own medical travel, and rescue insurance to ensure complete coverage during your trip. Lifestyle Finanical also provides this coverage. 
      2. Kootenay Backcountry Guides will not be responsible for any personal costs associated with an accident on any of our courses or tours. 
      Do I need to purchase insurance?

      Trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended to cover for unforeseen circumstances that may interrupt or cancel your trip or course with us.

      We do not provide such insurance but will provide you with recommended providers. Follow this link for a quote