Steep Ski & Ride

Steep Ski & Ride Skills Camp

Backcountry Winter Travel Course

Our Advanced Steep Ski Skills camp is a two-day skills-focused weekend that aims to give you the tools needed to push your backcountry skiing into steeper terrain while traveling efficiently and with finesse. We will explore what gear should be added to your arsenal as a skier looking to push into steeper more committing terrain, and proper techniques to use the added equipment safely and effectively. Our guides will share the knowledge they have learned skiing in the mountain ranges of the world to teach you new skills and improve on any already existing foundation of skills that you may have.

  • Who’s it for? Backcountry skiers with significant touring experience and some steep skiing experience who are hoping to push their skills to the next level and prepare for bigger mountain objectives
  • How do we go? Participants may take this course on backcountry skis only
  • Where do we go? We will utilize terrain on or around Mount Washington and the northern Presidential Range
  • Why go with AMG? Acadia Mountain Guides is Maine’s only full-service climbing school, owned and operated by IFMGA mountain guide Jon Tierney. AMG has been teaching and guiding throughout the world for over 20 years with a passion for creating well-prepared alumni of courses so that they can go out and travel with confidence in the mountains. AMG is an AMGA accredited climbing school.
  • Pre-requisites:
    • Fitness, clothing, and equipment to ski or hike up to 5 miles round trip with a 10-pound pack.
    • Basic backcountry skiing skills and experience touring/traveling in relatively steep terrain

Starting with a brief classroom session to orient students to new pieces of gear that will be added to their arsenal, we will compare different types of crampons/ice axes and explain the uses of each, helping students make decisions about what gear they will need for the objectives they have. From there, we will go outside to work on the snow. Our initial tour to get up into the terrain will focus on leading a group and pacing your group. Once up high on the mountain, we will work with students on using ski crampons and when those would be useful. We will get out boot crampons and ice axes to learn about different cramponing techniques and effectively climb with added traction devices. If time allows, we will get out some ski ropes and explore the world of ropes in skiing! Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to “pick the brain” of guides who have spent many years skiing and climbing in the mountains all over the world.

2024 Course Schedule 

Tuition: $350.00
By clicking on the date you desire you will be rerouted to the registration page. 
Date   Region Classroom / Meeting Location 
March 23rd- 24th, 2024Mount Washington Valley, NH 

Quality Inn, Gorham NH

Specific Info

General Info

Backcountry skiers with moderate touring experience who are hoping to push their skills to the next level and prepare for bigger mountain objectives

Fitness, clothing, and equipment to ski or hike up to 8 miles round trip with a 10-pound pack. If skiing or riding, you should be advanced enough to ski ungroomed intermediate terrain at major northeast ski resorts safely.

We will utilize terrain on or around Mount Washington and the northern Presidential Range

Acadia Mountain Guides is Maine’s only full-service climbing school, owned and operated by IFMGA mountain guide Jon Tierney. AMG has been teaching and guiding throughout the world for over 20 years with a passion for creating well-prepared alumni of courses so that they can go out and travel with confidence in the mountains. AMG is an AMGA accredited climbing school.

Participants receive a 20% discount on any avalanche related purchases made between registration and seven days after the course (15% thereafter for lifetime). Avalanche gear will be available for purchase at the course as well. (online at AlpenglowGear.com

Ski Clothing; (your normal backcountry skiing kit w/ added insulation for standing around and learning)

  • Softshell jacket
  • Softshell pants
  • 1 mid-weight layer (regulator fleece)
  • 1 light top or similar base layer
  • Base layers
  • 2 prs of ski socks
  • Heavy gloves
  • light gloves (soft shell, wind stopper or wool)
  • Ski hat/helmet
  • Down coat/puffy/insulation layer
  • Goggles
  • Sunglasses
  • Balaclava 

Lunch Food, Snacks, and Drinks (as desired);

  • Cliff bars/energy bars/energy gels
  • Jerky
  • Mixed nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Hot chocolate/tea/coffee/etc.

In the field

  • Touring skis, poles, boots, split board, or snowshoes.
  • Mountaineering Axe*
  • Boot Crampons*
  • Ski Crampons (if you have them)
  • Ski or splitboard Skins*
  • Ski pack (30 L or bigger)
  • Thermos
  • Compass with baseplate
  • Sunscreen/lip balm




Please complete the following as pre-course work and be prepared to discuss in class.

Tour Planning:

  • Tour planning is how you prepare to go into the backcountry.
  • A tour plan is generated by using the avalanche bulletin, combined with maps (both hard copy and electronic versions) and a weather forecast to understand how the weather will influence your plan.
  • It is easy to create reliable computer/phone-based tour plans to bring to the backcountry. You should always have a hard map and compass.
  • Your tour plan should give you an idea of the vertical gain, the distance, compass bearings, run options, areas to be careful of. Attached is a sample tour plan template.
  • Electronic tour planning is great, but you need to understand some basics as well. We will review tour planning basics in class but keep in mind it is not a navigation class. Please bring a compass, ideally with a base plate.
  • 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: the mapping apps Avensa, Caltopo, Gaia, and the Windy app for weather.

         Tour planning resources:

Acadia Mountain Guides has partnered with Quality Inn, Gorham New Hampshire to offer lodging right at the same venue as the classroom location. Quality Inn offers single/double occupancy rooms for $99/night, an additional $5/night will be charged for above double occupancy, room charge also includes continental breakfast.

Gorham has several options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All are within walking distance of the classroom.

You will often find our instructors down the road at locally/skier-owned SAaLT Pub enjoying locally sourced food and drink for dinner after a long day in the mountains!

We encourage you to join us there, we are delighted to continue conversing about snow, mountains, and more even after the class has ended!


No one starts the day expecting to get hurt in the backcountry. However, despite all we know and all we do, accidents can still happen. At AMG, we take your medical care seriously. Like many guide services, our leaders are trained as Wilderness First Responders; many are WEMTs. Additionally, all our regular employees participate in periodic medical skills review with our owner Jon, a flight paramedic and lead instructor in wilderness medicine. Additionally, on courses traveling to remote areas such as Katahdin, Chic-Chocs, or Mount Washington, you can expect our guides to have pain and sedation medications available if needed.

As we all look for ways to get outside it’s important do so in a responsible manner that promotes the health and safety of both participants and guides. Since opening in 1994, Acadia Mountain Guides has had a strong reputation for leading the way with regard to safety quality assurance and has now established Covid-19 pandemic guidelines that meet and exceed those recommended by the CDC, the state of Maine, the American Camping Association and professional guide associations. We are committed to maintaining a healthy educational environment. As best practices continue to evolve and the nature of the pandemic changes we will continue to adapt our guidelines. We ask for your patience, flexibility and cooperation and we work through this together. If you If you do not pass our COVID screening or we are forced to cancel your program due to COVID, you will be given the option to reschedule or receive a full refund. 

During your avalanche training course you can expect the following COVID guidelines to be followed:

  • AMG will limit the size of courses and travel groups to reduce exposure and to meet spacing requirements.
  • Guides will record health status and temperature at start of day will not report to work if symptomatic.
  • Clients are expected to honestly answer the following health related questions regarding COVID – 19 signs and symptoms and understand that you may not be allowed to participate if certain conditions are present:
    • Known close contact with a + COVID person within last 14 days?
    • Onset of non-productive cough within last 14 days?
    • Onset of new shortness of breath within last 14 days?
    • If any of the above, you may not participate until having a COVID test or have been symptom free for 14 days.
  • Any additional signs / symptoms Fever (>100.4 F), recent chills, body aches/muscle pain, headache, sore throat, nausea/vomiting, new loss of taste or smell.
  • If 2 or more of above you may not participate until having a COVID test or have been symptom free for 14 days. If your participation in the outing is not allowed, you will be given the option to reschedule, or to receive a refund.
  • Surfaces, instruments and equipment in which we anticipate your contact will be disinfected prior to your arrival.
  • Hand sanitizer will be readily available throughout the course.
  • Whenever possible we will meet and prepare for tours outside in the fresh air.
  • We will not share food, drink or clothing.
  • We will not greet you with a hand shake but with a big, friendly smile hidden by our face covering.
  • Physical distancing will be maintained when possible and face coverings will be utilized when distancing can’t be maintained.
  • You will be issued a cleaned transceiver, shovel and probe for your own use during course. Any additional shared gear will be sanitized or quarantined between use.
  • Clients and guide should ride in separate vehicles. Carpooling with those outside of your family is discouraged.
  • Medical care: In addition to standard medical supplies, guides will carry an HME filter and mask to safely provide airway and breathing management.

You may view our complete COVID guidelines here. These guidelines have been reviewed by risk management experts and our Medical Advisor, Dr. Jonnathan Busko, M.D.

We seek to find the best snow and learning conditions possible for each course and to provide different venues for each field day. If we travel to the west side of Mount Washington a nominal parking fee may be charged at the Cog Railway base station parking area. Occasionally we utilize lift access at Wildcat to access terrain and this may require purchasing a single ride lift pass.

  • 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 countries does require basic knowledge of the risks in order to stay safe.

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. Our goal is to interpret the environmental, situational, and group variables and make educated decisions to minimize dangers to you while providing an enjoyable and memorable experience. 


Self-reliance in the face of adversity is expected on the part of the wilderness traveler entering the wilderness. Rescue is not automatic. Our party is alone for all practical purposes 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 100% deposit is required for registration.

Payment and reservations can be made at Alpenglow Adventure Sports.

Click here to register!

When you book a course with Acadia Mountain Guides, you agree 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:

  • The 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 the program forfeit the 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.

If you are symptomatic or found positive for COVID, have been exposed to COVID + person(s) in the past 14 days, you may request to be either rescheduled or receive a full refund.

The goals and objectives of this program are to learn avalanche skills. It is unlikely that we will pursue any summits during the course. Commonly we ascend into areas around Tuckerman Ravine, Gulf of Slide, and ravines adjacent to the cog railway. We will make every reasonable effort to reach these areas. However, extreme weather, avalanche conditions, inadequate personal fitness, difficult terrain, or park weather/travel closures may make it impossible to achieve our desired terrain objectives.

People often ask if it’s appropriate to tip the instructor. Tipping is never expected but always greatly appreciated.

This is your course. The more you let your instructor know what your needs are, the more he or she can help you. If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you have special interests, let your instructor know. If your instructor has provided you with a great experience and shared his or her knowledge and joy of the mountain world with you, a thank-you note or gratuity is always well received. If they have not, we would like to know about it.

A minimum of four (4) participants are needed to run this program, and there is a maximum of twelve (12). The decision to run the program will be made three weeks before the start date. In the case of low registration, you will have the option 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 to 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 constantly take steps to progress their skills and provide you with an exceptional experience. AMG is also a proponent of helping clients reach their goals; whether it’s having an epic day in the mountains or gaining skills to get into other terrains, Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School can get you there!

Our instructor team is the strongest in New England and our courses reflect that. We were at the table early on when the concept of furthering public avalanche education in the U.S. was being discussed and the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education was being created. For several years we were the only climbing school sponsoring AIARE avalanche courses in the eastern U.S. We often ran them at a financial loss, brought avalanche guru Karl Klassen (Canadian IFMGA guide, chief forecaster for the Canadian Avalanche Association, and initial technical director for AIARE) in from western Canada to teach them, and corralled all of our friends to attend just to have enough people to run the course. In fact, many of the snow rangers and current avalanche course providers who are working or have worked on Mount Washington were participants in those early courses. Today, times have changed and the demand for courses has created an abundance of courses and providers. While all the courses are good, we believe ours to often be superior because of the strength of our team.

Jon Tierney
Owner, Acadia Mountain Guides, AIARE Level I & II Course Leader
IFMGA/AMGA International Mountain Guide | AMGA Ski Mountaineering Guide | AMGA Alpine Guide | AMGA Rock Guide | AMGA Rock and Alpine Instructor / Examiner 1997 – 2007 | AIARE Level III Avalanche Certification | AIARE LI & LII Course Leader | Flight and Critical Care Paramedic | Professional guide since 1983, climber and skier since 1975 | American Avalanche Association and AMGA Professional Member | Registered Maine Guide
Albert Mandell
AIARE Level I & II Course Leader
AMGA Assistant Ski Guide | AIARE Level III Avalanche Certification | AIARE LI & LII Course Leader | Wilderness First Responder
almandellAl Mandell
Rob Benton
AIARE Level I & II Course Instructor
AIARE Professional Level I | AIARE Level I & II Instructor | AMGA Apprentice Alpine Guide | AMGA Single Pitch Instructor | Swift Water Canoe Guide | Wilderness First Responder | Maine Search and Rescue | Associates Degree in Outdoor Recreation and Tourism |
Rob Bentonrobbenton_
Benjamin Allen
AIARE Level I & II Course Instructor
AIARE Pro 1 Avalanche Certification | AIARE L1 & L2 Course Instructor | Wilderness First Responder | Professional Ski Patroller
Mark Renson
AIARE Level I & II Course Instructor
American Avalanche Institue Level III Certification | Canadian Avalanche Association AST-2 | Senior Outdoor Emergency Care Certified | Proffesional Ski Patroller
Mark P. Renson
Benjamin Mirkin
AIARE Level I & II Course Leader
AIARE III Certification | AIARE Level I, II & Rescue Course Leader | AMGA Rock Instructor | AMGA Ice Instructor | AMGA Apprentice Alpine and Ski Guide | Ph.D. in Education
Benjamin Mirkin
Cord Farmer
AIARE Level I & II Course Instructor
AIARE Pro 1 Avalanche Certification | AIARE L1 & L2 Course Instructor | Wilderness First Responder | B.A. in Sports & Recreation Management | M.A. in Sports Psychology

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, 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.

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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Become a client of Acadia Mountain Guides and receive a permanent 15% off MSRP on purchases in our stores or at AlpenglowGear.com.

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Gear Rental Program

AMGCS also rents outdoor equipment for your convenience. All clients receive 25% off rental equipment for use on our courses.
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