Backcountry Academy Program


Our visionary Backcountry Program delivers an unparalleled experience for athletes who seek a lifetime of adventure and powder turns in the mountains.

Motivating factors

CVA Backcountry is the leader in backcountry skiing and snowboarding education for middle and high school students. We provide training in off-piste skiing skills, avalanche education, ski mountaineering, and we use backcountry skiing and adventure travel to develop skills in leadership, problem solving, communication, risk management, and teamwork. This program is designed with the adventurous skier in mind who is always up for exploring and searching for the best terrain and snow. 

Backcountry athletes gain experience, training, and coaching in:
  • Backcountry skiing in a variety of terrain and snow climates
  • Avalanche studies and snow science
  • Wilderness medicine
  • Pre and post-season physical training
  • Adventure travel
  • Rock and ice climbing
  • Navigation
  • Backcountry ethics
  • Mountain biking 
Backcountry athletes can earn certifications in:
  • Level 1 and Level 2 Avalanche
  • Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder

The CVA Backcountry Experience

"The past two years in the Backcountry Program I have grown as an individual more than I ever thought I would. I learned how to set and achieve goals in order to further my backcountry experience. I became efficient at time management while juggling a homework load in between long days of incredible skiing and travel. I am so grateful to have had this experience and I look forward to continuing to explore the Rocky Mountains on skis while attending college at Montana State University."
- Cam Niven, Class of 2018

"Not only was it awesome to ski a bunch of powder but the repetitive days of it really gave me a chance I haven't had before to develop my own powder skiing technique... Living a bit more primitively can do wonders for everyone - melting your snow for water, not having phones or electricity, spending time in a backcountry yurt, etc. Every time I had an experience like this, it positively shaped my outlook on life and on skiing."
Ellison Boord, Class of 2020
Backcountry skiing and riding is a sport where skiing out-of-bounds is the norm and searching for the perfect powder turn is never ending. It allows skiers and riders to experience the wild mountain environment without ski lifts, groomers, trail closures, or crowds. It requires a higher level of knowledge about traveling safely in the mountains, making decisions, and working as a team.  

The future is backcountry. It is no secret that the backcountry discipline continues to increase in popularity every year as more and more people buy backcountry products and show up at a trailhead rather than at the bottom of a high-speed quad. The wild, uncontrolled nature of the backcountry environment calls the adventurer within many of us. 

We are proud not only to offer the technical skills and knowledge for our students to excel in the backcountry environment, but also that we foster skills learned through backcountry skiing and riding that are life long and transferrable. Our graduates display a deeper understanding of leadership, effective communication, problem solving, risk management, and teamwork as a result of their experience. 

Our local venues around the Sugarloaf area and the White Mountains offer amazing opportunities for training and skill development.

Over the course of the winter we will travel to world-class and iconic ski locations in order to apply these skills to a big mountain environment and allow for exposure to different snow climates and ski cultures. Travel locations have included: Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, British Columbia, Chamonix, La Grave, and Northern Quebec. 


List of 2 members.

  • Photo of Patrick Scanlan

    Patrick Scanlan 

    Backcountry Program Director
  • Photo of Owen McAndrew

    Owen McAndrew 

    Backcountry Head Coach