Backcountry Skiing with Chris Davenport

Let's get you into the backcountry feeling safe and stoked with the help of legendary skier, Chris Davenport.

Start Course
Beginner - Advanced
1 hr 33 min

About the Course

Chris Davenport is one of the most experienced pro skiers in the industry. A former World Champion, professional ski guide, and author - there's really no one better to get you dialed in for epic backcountry ski days!

What you're going to learn:

  • How to establish meaningful goals for your adventure travel
  • What to pack and how to get it there
  • How to build the ultimate trip spreadsheets to be organized like a pro
  • Budgeting tips to take the trip of your dreams
  • And much more

Lesson 1: Introduction

Welcome to the Backcountry Skiing course! Let's start with an introduction to the sport and the legend himself, Chris Davenport!

Meet Your Instructor: Chris Davenport


What is Backcountry Skiing?


Lesson 2: Why Ski in the Backcountry?

Why? It's a big and important question to ask as we begin this course. In lesson number one, Chris dissects why Backcountry Skiing has become his ultimate calling in life. And spoiler alert: It's about more than just skiing fresh powder.

Lesson 3: Things to Keep in Mind Before Traveling in the Backcountry

We call this lesson, "Things to Keep in Mind Before Traveling in the Backcountry." But you can call it, "Check yourself before you wreck yourself." Because here we talk about realistically evaluating yourself and your equipment before stepping out the door to ski. By taking a good hard look at your ability level, your attitude, your ski partners, your gear, and more, you're becoming a smarter and safer backcountry skier right out of the gate.

Know Your Ability Level

One of the most important topics we'll talk about in this course is your own ability. You don't have to be the best skier on the planet to venture into the backcountry. But you should feel comfortable in variable terrain and conditions, especially in powder. Unlike the resorts where terrain is controlled, mother nature has a mind of it's own and you never know what type of snow you'll be skiing in the backcountry, and this requires a certain level of ability to navigate. Let's get started.


Know Your Gear

Before you step foot into the backcountry, make sure you have the right gear (we'll get into the details later) and test it out. Even if it's on your living room carpet, trying out your touring bindings, boots, etc. goes a long way to making sure your outings are a success.


Lesson 4: Avalanche Awareness

This is arguably the most technical lesson of the course. And by no means is it a substitute for real-world, in-person avalanche awareness training. But across these 6 chapters, we'll become familiar with a range of key topics—from understanding why most avalanches occur, to what goes into digging a proper snow pit.

First Things First - Check Your Beacon

Your avalanche beacon is one the most important pieces of equipment in the backcountry. It could literally save your life. In this chapter, Chris will go over some basics of beacons.


Demo - Digging A Snow PIt

Snow pits are how we assess the various layers of the snowpack. They are important to tell us the "story" of a particular ski season (like rings on a tree) so Chris will walk us through the details of interpreting the various layers of snow and what it means for avalanche safety.


Avalanche Gear Overview

Avalanche gear is critical. You'll never leave home without it. Let's take a deeper look into what you should have in your pack and know how to use in the backcountry.


Avalanche Precautions On The Skin Track

Uphill travel has its own avalanche considerations. We'll cover a few things that are important to remember.


The 3 Ingredients Of An Avalanche

There are a couple of golden rules in where and how avalanches occur. Let's cover each of them in detail.


Avalanche Resources

This course is NOT a replacement for a full Avalanche Course. Use the resources and links below to learn more and find a course near you.


Lesson 5: Partner Selection

Without the right partner(s) in the backcountry, nothing else matters. Lesson 5 focuses on the importance of this selection process and the consequences of selecting poorly.

The Importance of Partners

Partner selection can be one of the most important aspects of backcountry skiing. Find out why.


Example - Having A Bad Partner

Do you know what makes a bad backcountry skiing partner? Let's dig in.


Finding Partners

Here a few helpful hints for finding buddies to ski with.


Lesson 6: Gear

You're only as good as your gear in the backcountry and, fortunately, Chris dove DEEP into his gear preferences for this lesson. Whether you already own a perfect setup or need to dial in the details, the following three chapters are absolutely for you.

Recommended Essential Backcountry Skiing Equipment

Gear! One of the funnest parts to the sport. Tune in as Chris dissects what's in his pack and all the essentials for having a good outing.


Essential Skiing Hardware

Here it is - your opportunity to nerd out on ski gear with Chris ;-)


Bonus: Dav's Favorite Piece of Gear

What oh what will it be? And why?


Lesson 7: Uphill Travel

Like everything in the backcountry, walking uphill isn't as simple as it sounds. Here, we break down the best skinning technique, as well as accompanying situations like breaking trail and executing the perfect kick turn.

Skinning Fundamentals

Skinning is one of the most important skills you'll learn as a backcountry skier. Here Chris will give you the low down!


Demo - Breaking Trail


Demo - The Kickturn

Kickturns are an efficient way to change directions on the skin track. In this lesson, Dav shows the best way to perform a kickturn  in a step-by-step process.


Lesson 8: Route Finding Tips

Before every safe and smart backcountry adventure comes a lot of homework. And a big part of that homework is nailing your route. In this lesson, Chris explains his process—from the early stages researching at home, to executing on the mountain with proper GPS tools.

Route Finding Starts at Home

It's very important to have a plan far before your ski trip. Find out the best ways to stay prepared!


Avalanche and Weather Resources

In this chapter, we discuss the importance of knowing the weather and avalanche forecasts, and where to find them!


Demo - Route Finding With Gaia GPS

The Gaia GPS App can be a very helpful tool when finding the right slope and terrain in the backcountry. See how Dav uses it in the Aspen backcountry below!


Lesson 9: Fitness

While backcountry skiing absolutely makes you a fitter skier, it can't stand alone as your sole fitness source. Truly enjoying the backcountry requires workouts on and off the hill. And when you're in the right shape, that's when the sport gets extra fun.

Fitness Determines Your Fun

Backcountry skiing is an exhilarating sport, but like other sports, your fitness levels can contribute to how fun and how long of a day it can be. Learn more about the required endurance, flexibility, and core strength below!


The Importance of Cross Training

It's also important to keep cross training as a part of your routine. See how these skills can transfer from the gym to the mountains.


Lesson 10: Picking Your Ski Line

So much goes into the perfect backcountry day, and it's a shame to waste all that preparation by rushing into a line. This lesson delves into this decision-making process and why communication with your partner becomes extra important.

Establishing A Line With Your Partner

Communication with your partner is imperative before and throughout the day. Find out below why you and your partner should always be on the same page.


Demo - Downhill Travel


Lesson 11: Backcountry Etiquette And Safety

The community of backcountry skiers is a passionate one, not to be messed with. Be sure to understand etiquette to ensure everyone's having a good time and feeling welcome.

Skin Track Etiquette

Backcountry skiing can be a very popular activity.  Next, we'll talk about how to stay respectful on the skin track when it is crowded.


Backcountry Safety And Responsibility

Being responsible while skiing can be just as important as the preparation steps. Here are Dav's tips for staying safe and responsible.


Lesson 12: Other Types of Backcountry Skiing Adventures

Other Types of Backcountry Skiing

Backcountry skiing is becoming more and more popular every winter. And as the sport grows, it's important to understand the many paths available to you as a skier. Take it from Chris; he's done it all.


Lesson 13: Course Conclusion

Congratulations! You've reached the end of the course! Take a moment to celebrate your accomplishments. Then get out there and put your knowledge to work because the backcountry is waiting.

Chris's Final Thoughts


Files & Resources

Browse all the links and downloads mentioned in the course. If you would like us to include any other resource, please let us know by contacting us here.

External Link - Academy Webflow Template
Master Course Audio File
External Link - Academy Webflow Template
Course Audio Files (Individual Lessons)
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Contact Chris