Sunshine, powder snow to the knees and mountains that have not been touched by humans for days. My name is Sofie, I’m 21 years old and I’m a snowboard instructor at Sun Peaks – and in my spare time I’m hunting for the perfect powder days.
My first encounter with real powder snow was out in Japan’s backcountry. Until then, I thought touring seemed pointless: Why spend so much energy fighting your way up a mountain, just for a few turns down in powder? I had that attitude, until I tried it myself. One day I ended up joining the red bars that surrounded the Japanese resort, and I was sold. By the end of the winter, I had contacted Snowminds, and it was not long before I was convinced that the Snowminds Backcountry course (Click here )was for me. The dream of being able to navigate completely even outside the barriers.
In itself, it’s great to “just” be a ski instructor for one season.
My decision to do the backcountry course, is something I will never regret. From the first day, our guide Bodie taught us what it takes to travel outside the ski resort’s boundaries. Whether you wanted to pursue more, such as working towards a career in ski patrolling, or you just wanted to learn to explore the mountains. To lead this course one finds no more dedicated, wonderful and inspiring person like Bodie. A man who is passionate about teaching and giving to others. As a former heli-ski guide and level 3 instructor, he has all the knowledge he needs, ..and a little more.
We were introduced to the essential things about avalanches and other dangers that one can encounter when traveling in the backcountry. In addition, everyone got introduced to the hardcore side of wind and weather, where we saw how the ski patrol made choices about avalanche safety in the resort. We also learned compass and map navigation. We also got to try “rope rescue” where we were hoisted out over a cliff side on a simple string. Most important of all, we had days where we were looking for delicious fresh snow to stand in. At the same time we observed what the snow looked like, what consequences change of wind direction has, and how many layers of snow can be read and tested.
And when we were out, Bodie taught us to travel with respect for nature. After all, it is a huge privilege that we can move around in a terrain so different and beautiful, so it was about having respect for nature. Also, we wanted to leave as few footprints as possible. Since day one, it has been clear that Bodie has a fiery soul like no other. He set the framework for our little Snowminds Backcountry family, which I now so incredibly appreciate.
We have experienced many indescribably beautiful and wild places on the course. Large landscapes with lovely fresh snow without a single sign of people, candy of rocks and forests with dense trees. Everything just behind the resort. But we were also further away, and here we had the coolest experience: A heliskiing trip! (Find out more)Bodie took us to the Mike Wiegele Heli Skiing Operation. We got flown up the mountain in one of their helicopters, followed by having the whole mountain to ourselves. For a whole day we stood in pristine, light and knee-deep powder snow. All of us were tested on our knowledge in backcountry, perhaps to the same extent as our leg muscles.
The days of the backcountry course have given me memories for life. Memories of fun studies, too many peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and sore thigh and calf muscles after touring days.
Something I could never have been without..
Now the course is over, and I look at the mountains in a completely different way. Once in a while I meet another ski enthusiast without any kind of backcountry training, an idealist, who reminds me of how I thought before the course. A person who only mocks the cool opportunities in steep passages on the mountain sides, and who does not see the avalanche dangers, which I can only mock now. The things I learned during the course have clearly made me a realist in the mountains. The course has made me respect the mountain on a whole new level, but has also made me appreciate that we can just travel there. Not least, it has given me tools to get where the good snow is. It was a huge step for me when I could take my friends outside the red barricades, despite the fact that some of them had only received a brief introduction to avalanche safety. I use the knowledge that the course had given me, to navigate them to the deep and delicious powder snow. Something I had long wanted to be able to do.
As Bodie always said: “You do not know, what you do not know”. And I think that was exactly what I took with me from this whole experience. There is so much you can learn and explore, despite everything we have learned, this is only the beginning of exploration in the mountains.