Chic Choc Backcountry Skiing with AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course

The unique nature of this location allows us to incorporate more backcountry skiing than other courses in the northeast while also completing the AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course. This course is a must for all who travel into the mountains in winter and will help you develop a better understanding of safe winter travel. It is also a great tune up for winter travelers who have some experience or prior training.

Participants will learn about avalanche hazard formation through the relationships of terrain, snowpack, weather and people. You will also learn about interpreting forecasts, trip planning considerations, route selection, travel techniques, educated decision making, and search and rescue skills including use of transceivers and probes.

The course combines classroom skills with field time to help you to answer these questions: Where is the danger? When is it dangerous? Should we go on? What do I do if caught?

Date & Location

Travel currently not allowed. As soon as Canada opens we will schedule, Chic Chocs, Parque de la Gaspesie, Quebec



  • Includes four days of spectacular backcountry skiing and 4 nights lodging, all breakfasts and dinners.
  • Professionally guided by AMGA trained or certified ski guides.
  • Lodging in a warm, modern roadside huts with electricity, wood heat and shared bathroom / hot showers.
  • Trailheads within short 20 minute drive from hut
  • Ratio: maximum of 5 clients / guide
  • All group and emergency gear provided.
  • Annual park pass (appx $40.00)
  • Personal gear
  • Transportation to / from Chic Chocs
  • Evening beverages / pub visits
  • Quarters for the showers
  • Instructor / Guide Gratuities

5 days / 4 nights inclusive of travel days. Tailored toward strong intermediate / expert skiers and riders who ski or ride with control  at major New England resorts.

The goods in the woods!
Champ de Mar glades.

Specific Info

General Info

This course is for backcountry skiers and split boarders as who are strong intermediate / expert skiers who can ski trails with reasonable control at major New England resorts. The Chic Chocs offers us a variety of terrain choices and we will seek terrain where everyone can make enjoyable turns. Participants must also possess appropriate clothing to stay warm and dry on cold and windy winter days while both moving and stationary.

Sample Outline:

Each day will be a blend of classroom skills in the morning and evening with a ski tour in the mid day. Each day we will choose appropriate ski objectives based on weather, snow and avalanche conditions, and personal interest. Here is a sample from a prior year.

Day 1   Travel to Chic Chocs. Plan to arrive no later than 5:00p.m. Get settled in. Gear check. Evening introduction to avalanche awareness.

Day 2   AM – Class session.
            PM- Head out to Champs de Mars for some fun     ski touring and glade skiing while practicing companion rescue skills.
            Evening – Avalanche Class Session.

Day 3   AM – Class session.
            PM – The Hog’s Back is a classic peak in the Gaspe. Nice open faces, some cool glades, and great long runs like  the Grand Couloir give us many options to play.
            Evening – Avalanche Class Session.

Day 4   A full day in the field. The reward of great tree skiing is worth the longer approach into Mont Lyall or the backside of Champ de Mar. Some of the best glade skiing on the east coast.

Day 5   Depending on our legs and snow we can do a variety of different tours in the AM before packing up and sadly heading home.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of the AIARE 1 course, the student should be able to:

  • Develop a plan for travel in avalanche terrain.
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify avalanche terrain.
  • Effectively use The AIARE Risk Management Framework to make terrain choices in a group setting.
  • Demonstrate effective companion rescue.

Course Topics:
The following is a summary of topics presented. The classroom presentations is mostly instructor led presentations and discussion then reinforced by a variety of videos and case studies  – many of actual incidents.

  • Introduction to the Avalanche Phenomena Types and characteristics of avalanches
    Avalanche problems

          Avalanche motion
          Size classification
          Avalanche danger scale
  • Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment, and selection
    Slope angle and clues

    Trigger points and terrain traps
  • The mountain snowpack
    Tracking the winter snowpack
    Direct and indirect effects of wind, sun, and temperature
    Snow metamorphism and layering
    Information gathering and field observation
    Snowpack assessment: layering, compression, extended column
    Avalanche danger factors or “Red Flags”
  • Decision making and Human Factors
    Personal and group dynamics
  • Trip Planning and Preparation
    Building a tour plan using both traditional map & compass and digital tools
    Route finding and travel techniques    
    Travel techniques to further mitigate hazard
  • Companion Rescue and Equipment            
    Rescue organization
    Transceiver search
    Shoveling techniques
    You got them out, now what? Medical considerations and evacuation

Motivated skier or rider who can ski or ride trails with reasonable control at major New England resorts. 

Please try to meet in late afternoon at our hut (called La Bruant). The huts are located just a couple minutes up the road from the Gite du Mont-Albert hotel. There is a large parking area with telephone booths. Google maps should get you to the Gite. Approximate travel time from Burlington, VT – 9hrs, Boston, MA – 10.5 hrs, Bangor, ME – 8 hrs.

Personal Equipment 

Any gear you may need can be purchased ahead of the course from our gear store – Alpenglow Adventure Sports – where you get a 25% off purchases made prior to the course and up to a week later as well as 15% discount off MSRP for life!!!  Purchases may be made in-store or online. Gear purchased in advance of course can often be brought to you on the course. Alpenglow will also price match any in stock inventory if you find a better deal on the web for the same item. Simply send a link when you are ready to order to shop@alpenglowgear.com.

It is about 100yds to the hut from parking area. Please try to pack things in a pack or tote that can be easily carried or dragged on the snow.


  • Passport

Ski Clothing

  • soft shell
  • soft shell pants
  • 1 R1 top or similar mid weight base layer
  • 1 light top or similar baselayer
  • Base layers
  • 2 prs of ski socks
  • Heavy gloves
  • light gloves (soft shell, windstopper)
  • Ski hat/helmet
  • Down coat/puffy/insulation layer
  • Goggles
  • Sunglasses
  • Balaclava

Lunch Food, Snacks and Drinks (as desired)

  • cliff bars/energy bars
  • jerky
  • Mixed nuts (put into 5 baggies)
  • Chocolate
  • Hot chocolate/tea/coffee/etc

 In the Hut

  • 30 degree sleeping bag or sheet/blankets, pillow
  • Hut shoes or slippers to hang out in the hut
  • A boot or overboot to walk to the bathrooms / down bootie.
  • pants
  • Shirt
  • Shorts
  • T shirt
  • Socks
  • Personal Items – Towel, Toothbrush, etc.
  • Canadian quarters for shower
  • Plate, Cup, Utensils

In the field

  • Skis, poles, boots or splitboard
  • Probe, transceiver, shovel if you have or we supply
  • Ski crampons (nice to have)
  • Skin wax glob stopper
  • Skins
  • Ski pack (30 L or bigger)
  • Thermos
  • Compass with baseplate
  • Sunscreen / lip balm

Pre-trip Preparation and Resources

On line learning: AIARE offers an online learning component is great for getting an understanding of avalanche terrain, avalanche problems and how to recognize suspect areas.  We strongly suggest looking at this in advance. Plan about 2 – 4 hours to work on the online content ahead of the class.

Recommended texts: You will receive a hardcopy of the AIARE Level 1 manual at the course.

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, 3rd Edition. Bruce Tremper
This edition features a wholly new chapter in which Bruce pulls all the pieces together to create an organized, step-by-step system for making decisions off, and on, the mountain.

Avalanche Essentials : A Step-by-Step System For Safety & Survival, Bruce Tremper
This is the companion to Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain the bestselling avalanche text in the U.S – with easy-to-understand safety tips and checklists to help anyone stay safer in avalanche terrain. It is a small, take-along resource to reference in the field and assist decision making. Winter athletes don’t necessarily want to be snow scientists, but playing in avalanche country does require basic knowledge of the risks in order to stay safe.

Be sure to check out the Avalanche forecast for Chic Chocs

Tour Planning: we will be doing some sample tour planning during the course. It is helpful if you are able to bring a laptop computer. We suggest downloading the following programs and apps which are useful for digital mapping:

To your laptop: Caltopo
To your smartphone: Avensa, Caltopo, Gaia and Windy apps.

Getting There:
Please try to meet in late afternoon at our hut (called La Bruant). The huts are located just a couple minutes up the road from the Gite du Mont-Albert hotel. There is a large parking area with telephone booths. Google maps should get you to the Gite. Approximate travel time from Burlington, VT – 9hrs, Boston, MA – 10.5 hrs, Bangor, ME – 8 hrs.

Includes lodging along with breakfast and dinner.



Hut Information:

·       Huts sleep 8 people in bunks with mattresses

·       Huts are heated by wood stove, wood & kindling are provided.  Overall we find the huts are warm. 

·       Huts have electricity/lights.

·       Bathrooms are 50 yards from the huts.

·       Huts have showers available in the bathrooms. $1 or so gets a fine shower. Bring lots of Canadian quarters.

·       Gear drying is accomplished in elevated racks that work on a pulley system.

Food Information:

·       Breakfasts & dinners will be in the huts.

·       Student are responsible for lunches (eaten in the field) & beverages (coffee, Gatorade, evening alcohol if you desire)

·       Food list will be provided separately prior to the trip – we will eat well!

·       Please let us know if you have any food allergies or requests. We will do our best to accommodate various food requests and preferences.





Staying Connected:
Cell service has not been available in the past while in the heart of the Chic Chocs. In the evening we allow time to head down to the Gite de Mont Albert where free WIFI is available along with an evening drink or snack if you desire. The Gite is about a 5 minute drive from our hut.

Enjoying the outdoors necessitates a certain degree of risk-taking. You are participating in this trip and entering the winter backcountry environment at your own risk.  You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While such accidents are rare, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. Our guides draw upon solid guide education coupled with extensive experience to manage significant hazards inherent to mountain travel.  Some of the hazards that can lead to injury or death associated with this trip include but are not limited to extreme weather, demanding physical travel, avalanche, vehicle transportation and falls or collisions while skiing or snowboarding. Please be sure that you are fully aware of such risks. It is our goal to interpret the environmental, situational and group variables and to make educated decisions to minimize dangers to you while at the same time providing an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to minimize various hazards through the application of good judgment gained from a foundation of education and experience. On this course we ask that you ski or ride with good control at all time.

Self-reliance in the face of adversity is expected on the part of the wilderness traveler entering the wilderness. Rescue is not automatic. For all practical purposes, our party is alone and must depend upon our own resources for self-rescue and be equipped for an extended emergency. Cellular phones and radios should not be relied upon in an emergency.  

Finally, this is a group trip and good expedition behavior is critical. Participants are asked to stay with the group until everyone has safely exited the backcountry.

A 50% deposit is required for registration. Balance due three weeks (21 days) before the beginning of program.

When you book a course with Acadia Mountain Guides you are agreeing to our cancellation policy. Please realize that if your travel does not go according to plan in any way and for any reason, we are unable to provide credits or refunds outside of what is described below. We strongly recommend that you purchase trip insurance to protect your activity purchase against unforeseeable circumstances which include but are not limited to:

  • Anticipation of Inclement Weather
  • Flight and Travel Delays and Conditions
  • Personal or work schedule changes
  • Injury or illness of self or family member
If you cancel more than 21 days in advance you may put the deposit toward a future course or receive a refund of 50% of your deposit. Cancellations made within twenty-one (21) days of program forfeit full tuition rate. Alternatively, if you find a replacement you will receive a 100% refund. A full refund will be given if Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School must cancel the course.

Inclement weather is to be expected at this time of year. Snow is what we want. Please adjust your travel plans to accomodate weather and travel conditions

Tipping is never expected but always greatly appreciated. Like many in service industries, instructors and guides supplement their income with tips generated from satisfied clients.

There are several potential summits we can reach and areas we could potentially travel in. We will make every reasonable effort to reach desired summits and provide great lines of descent, however, extreme weather, avalanche conditions, inadequate personal fitness, difficult terrain, or park weather / travel closures may make it impossible to achieve our desired summit or descent objectives.


A minimum of four (4) participants are needed to run this program and there is a maximum of seven (7). The decision to run the program will be made at three weeks prior to the start date. In the case of low registration, you will have the options of joining another trip, receiving a refund or possibly paying an additional amount to allow the trip to run with low numbers.

Are you part of a college organization, ski club, etc.? We are happy to schedule a customized course for organizations, small groups, and individuals through New England and Eastern Canada. Of course, if you would like to schedule a course or trip in Iceland, Colorado, or Japan, etc. we would be very pleased to work with you.

Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School is certified through the
American Mountain Guide Association and the Professional Climbing
Instructor Association. Acadia Mountain Guides actively supports
furthering their guide’s development throughout their career. That means
our guides are constantly taking steps to progress their skills and
will provide you with an exceptional experience. AMG is also a proponent
of helping clients reach their goals, whether its having an epic day in
the mountains or gaining skills to get into other terrain, Acadia
Mountain Guides Climbing School can get you there!

A History of
Leading the way…

Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School is the preeminent frontrunner in climbing instruction and guiding in Acadia and across Maine. Since 1994 we have specialized in designing customized experiences or training for you, your family, your group or company.


• Since 1994 •

AMGCS is one of 32 AMGA accredited programs in the US and was one of the earliest to pursue and achieve accreditation. AMGCS is the only climbing school in Maine to remain continuously AMGA accredited. We have had one or more full time AMGA rock guides on staff each year since 1994.

Owned by internationally recognized IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide Jon Tierney who has been climbing in Acadia since 1982. Jon has over 30 years of local and worldwide experience. The IFMGA requires full AMGA certification as a rock, alpine and ski mountaineering guide.

All instructors are certified as AMGA or PCIA Single Pitch Instructors and all guides have been trained or certified by the AMGA.

PCIA Accredited

• Since 2007 •

AMGCS has the distinction of also being accredited to the highest standards of the Professional Climbing Instructors Association. The PCIA requires all staff to be individually trained and certified.

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