Main content

Backcountry Skiing & Splitboarding

The following list of courses are guidelines for a general progression of offerings. These courses are offered as private lessons any day of the week, and can be fully customized to meet your goals and needs. 

Intro to Backcountry Skiing

This one-day course teaches you the fundamentals of backcountry skiing. We will introduce you to the art of skinning and proper track setting, descent selection and land navigation, and lay the groundwork for establishing a strong backcountry decision-making framework. This course will give you the tools to feed the need to avoid the resort crowds and pricey lift tickets.
More information...

Advanced Backcountry Skiing

This full day in the mountains is the perfect follow-up to our Intro to Backcountry Skiing or anyone with touring experience. We’ll tackle more complex ascents and descents while fine-tuning your skills. We practice group management and proper terrain selection, all while maximizing our time skiing.  We’ll focus more on hazard awareness, land navigation and most important improve your off piste skiing ability.
More information...  

Sidecountry Skiing in Smuggler's Notch

Not interested in earning all of your turns? We’ll utilize the lifts at Smugglers Notch to maximize your time on the down. Smugglers Notch may have the reputation as a family resort, but did you know they also have the easiest and best access to New England’s premier backcountry ski and ski mountaineering playground? Whether inbounds or out of bounds, experience challenging untracked terrain, mind-blowing vistas, the crème de la crème of glade, chute and gully skiing and of course LOTS of snow. To join us mid week for a BC adventure please contact Petra Cliffs and set up a private or group session beyond the area boundaries. Get away from the crowds and get the best snow on the mountain.
More information...

Mount Washington Ravines 

Skiing Mount Washington is a rite of passage for all backcountry skiing and riding enthusiasts and should not be missed. The mountain holds seven different ravines all with their own essence.  From the super steep and classics of Tuckerman Ravine, to the ski mountaineering mecca of Huntington Ravine, or getting off the beaten path and exploring Gulf of Slides, Great Gulf, Ammonoosuc, Burt, or  Oaks Gulf.  Let Petra Cliffs professional guides take you to the goods and ski your dream line.  From day trips to overnight adventures Petra can provide the Mount Washington adventure you have been looking for.  Mount Washington has the terrain weather and conditions to train and prepare for any objective around the globe.
More information... (Not offered 20/21 season) 

Adirondack Slide Skiing

Steep lines mark the faces of many of the Adirondack High Peaks in Upstate New York. The descents mostly consist of landslide paths that ran deep to the bedrock after major rain events like hurricane Irene. More rugged than White’s or the Green Mountains, they often require complex navigation, longer approaches and a little bit of bushwhacking, but reward those hardy souls with some of the finest descents in all of the Northeast. Classics like Mount Colden, Gothics, Avalanche pass and Wright Peak all are awaiting those who are adventurous.
More information... (Not offered 20/21 season) 

Two-Day Ski Mountaineering Clinic, Mt. Washington NH

Highlighted in Skiing Magazine as one of the best clinics to learn steep skiing techniques!
This two-day course is for expert skiers who wish to explore terrain steeper than the black diamond trails at the resort and take their skills to the wilds of the backcountry. This course utilizes the world-famous Mount Washington’s Gulf of Slides and Tuckerman Ravine to amplify what you are capable of accomplishing on skis. Join us as we refine your terrain selection and teach you the techniques to mitigate steep terrain.  Over the two days we help find your limit and then show you how to push beyond.  Learn form our guides experience about their risk assessment, define hazards and work through their decision making process.
More information... (Not offered 20/21 season) 

AIARE Avalanche Courses

Read More about the American Avalanche Association NEW 2018 educational guidelines and the pro/rec split here.

Read more about the American Institute for Avalanche Research & Education from the AIARE website

AIARE Level 1 Course

Petra Cliffs Mountaineering School will teach you the basics of avoiding avalanches including route selection, evaluating avalanche potential and rescue procedures. This stand alone course is a must for skiers, snowboarders, climbers & backcountry enthusiasts. The Level 1 Course provides a complete introduction to the avalanche occurrence, avalanche terrain, decision-making, and rescue. It is an ideal first course for those new to travel in avalanche terrain and a great review or upgrade for anyone who has some experience or prior training but feels they need a skills "tune-up." The Level 1 Course is designed to lead into the AIARE Level 2 Courses.
More information about AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Courses ...

AIARE Avalanche Rescue

AIARE Avalanche Rescue is a one-day stand alone course that is intended to be retaken on a regular basis in order to keep abreast of best practices in rescue techniques and gear. New participants will learn the basics of companion rescue, while return participants will expand their skill set with advanced topics and realistic scenario practice to help improve their skills after the course.Each participant will have the opportunity to receive professional coaching their rescue skills and will receive a rescue card acknowledging completion date at course end.

AIARE Avalanche Rescue is a prerequisite for the AIARE 2 and Pro 1 courses. AIARE recommends that all backcountry travelers keep their skills current by taking an Avalanche Rescue Course and receiving a rescue card at least every other year.
More information about AIARE Avalanche Rescue Courses ...

AIARE 2: Analyzing Snow Stability and Avalanche Hazard


In the past the AIARE 2 was designed to be an entry level professional course. In 2017, AIARE 2 was redesigned to  specifically meet the needs of advanced recreational students who have taken an AIARE 1 and Avalanche Rescue class.

The AIARE 2 is a three-day/24-hour course that provides backcountry travelers an opportunity to advance their decision making skills in more complicated situations such as being a leader within a small travel group, traveling in more complicated terrain, and/or developing a travel plan where online resources are scarce.The AIARE 2 builds on the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in the AIARE 1 and adds to it the evaluation of critical hazard assessment factors. Students will describe and discuss weather, snowpack and avalanche processes, and identify how these processes relate to observations and travel within avalanche terrain.

Course Description
More information about AIARE Avalanche Level II Courses ...

Courses generally run from 9am - 4pm unless otherwise noted.  Please call Petra Cliffs to reserve your space in an open enrollment clinic or to book a day of private instruction.  We want to speak with you to ensure you are getting to program you are looking for.  E-mailing us is fine to check on dates and gather information, but your reservation will be confirmed when we speak with you in person. Thank you!