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backcountry skills and riding clinics

Winterstoke is your ticket to the next level in the backcountry. 3 days of backcountry skills clinics for anything from ski touring essentials to big mountain skiing. Each clinic is lead by ACMG guides provided  by Altus Mountain Guides.

speaker series highlighted by expert talks from local backcountry athletes.

3 evenings of presentations to fuel your stoke for this up coming winter by the top backcountry names from Whistler. This is the winter to take your backcountry skiing and riding to the next level, this is your ticket to get the stills and the stoke for the season.

Presented By

With support from

The Presentations

Wednesday – January 17

Backcountry Mentorship Panel: Hear first-hand from local athletes and backcountry enthusiasts about how mentorship has fuelled their progression in the mountains, and how you can benefit from mentorship too! Drinks will be available by donation to Mountain Mentors.

The Panel!

  • Julia Niles – AMGA/IFMGA
  • Wayne Flann – Avalanche Expert/Blogger
  • Vince Shuley – Writer and Ski Instructor
  • Jessa Gilbert – Artist and Mentor
  • Thea Zerbe – Mountain Mentors Co-Creator

8:00 pm – 10:00 pm Escape Route (Alpine Demo Centre)

Tickets: Free – Limited quantities

Sold out

Thursday – January 18

Local Lines: Join local guides, athletes, and touring fanatics as they share their favourite local lines to inspire and feed your next adventure.  Q&A to the panel to answer any backcountry, line or avalanche questions!

  • Joe Schwartz – ACMG Ski Guide
  • Ben Johns – ACMG Ski Guide
  • Chris Christie – Pro Photographer and ski adventurer

8:00pm – 10:00pm Whistler Arcteryx Store

Tickets: Free – Limited quantities

Sold out

Friday – January 19

Live Art Auction: Local artists complete a mountain inspired painting on the spot. Music for the evening provided by Vancouver based DJ duo Epitomic. All funds raised from the auction to go to benefit this year’s recipient of the Winterstoke fund.

7:30pm – 11:00pm Audain Art Museum

Tickets: $30 (includes drink ticket)


*proceeds going to the Winterstoke Fund

Saturday – January 20

Altus Apres: Free beer!!! if that’s not enough to entice you, come join the Altus gang and a crew of backcountry lovers at the Escape Route Alpine Demo Centre for some free beer and storytelling.

4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Escape Route (Alpine Demo Centre)

Tickets: Free – Limited quantities



The Winterstoke Fund

The past Winterstoke festival funds were raised from a silent auction and liquor sales on the weekend’s opening event; the donations went to the Howe Sound Secondary School’s outdoor leadership class. We managed to raise $1,000, which is the tuition for one student to attend this class. We will continue this fund to support a student every year the festival runs, as well as incorporating space in the event clinics for students to attend for free.

Read more about the program.

The Clinics

All clinics and tours will be lead by Altus Mountain Guides and joined by local pros. Guides are the highest calibre available to get you dialled and ready for your next backcountry trip!

Registration for courses will open December 10th**

Advanced Avalanche Skills

Have your AST?  Looking to expand your knowledge of looking at the snow pack, snow test and applying that information to your ski lines. This clinic is to help users use advanced snow observation to strengthen their decision-making in avalanche terrain.
$135 – 8 hour course
Book Now

Ladies Alpine Day Out

This clinic is aimed at women skiers who have backcountry experience and advanced skiing ability.  Let ACMG Mountain Guide Julia Niles teach you necessary skills to get you safely on top of, into and descending couloirs.
$135 – 8 hour course
Book Now

Steep Skiing

This clinic is aimed at experienced skiers who are looking to push their riding to the next level in the backcountry. Experience in the backcountry is essential, strong skiing ability is required. Our guide will lead you through hazard assessment, risk management, and line selection in order to shred the gnar.
$135 – 8 hour course
Book Now

Intro Ski Touring

The ski touring essentials all in one day. For anyone looking to get into backcountry ski touring or is new to the sport looking to improve technique. Gear, track setting, route finding, avalanche safety skill on the fly, safe downhill skiing techniques.
$135 – 8 hour course
Book Now

Intro Split boarding

Looking to take your snowboarding skills into the backcountry?  Well, get out with big mountain pro, 2 time Olympian and ACMG guide Justin Lamoureux.  This clinic will teach all the basics of movement, equipment, efficiency, and safety for aspiring split boarders looking to get into the backcountry.
$135 – 8 hour course
Book Now

Big Mountain Riding (split board)

This is for experienced split boarders who are wanting to push their riding into bigger, steep and more complex terrain.   We will focus on how to select objectives suitable for riding, how to assess conditions before you head out. On route, guide Justin Lamoureux will give coaching on hazard assessment in alpine terrain, reading lines for riding and how to safely approach and descend big alpine terrain.
$135 – 8 hour course

Ski Mountaineering Clinic

This clinic is for backcountry skiers and riders who want to spice up their backcountry adventures by covering more terrain and summiting peaks. Learn to approach common ski mountaineering challenges systematically. Hazard recognition and management, risk management, anchor building, rope descending and ascending, entering a couloir and complex glacier travel will all be introduced.
$135 – 8 hour course

Crevasse Rescue

Just what to do if someone falls in a crevasse! This clinic will teach the principals for crevasse rescue in the ski and mountaineering setting, 3:1, 6:1, Drop Loop and Prussik techniques. A must for anyone planning to do any glacier travel this winter!
$75 – 6 hour course

Tantalus Alpine Rip Ski

The dream day. Who hasn’t been teased by this majestic mountain range on their way to Whistler? This clinic is aimed at experienced skiers and snowboarders who are looking to push their backcountry riding. The goal is to ride big mountain terrain and lead you to be self-sufficient in this environment. Fly there and back for the ultimate day of skiing and instruction.

Backcountry Videography Clinic

Get out for a day of backcountry skiing and pushing your videography skills with our guest pro filmer.
$165 – 8 hour course
Book Now

Guided Tour – Whistler/Blackcomb Backcountry

The backyard, and how good it is!! Spend the day touring around the Whistler or Blackcomb Backcountry with a guide, learning their secrets, spots and gaining some snow knowledge all while getting in some epic runs.
$135 – 8 hour tour

Guided Tour – Mystery Location

Explore one of the many different locations in the Sea to Sky prime for touring. Our guide will make the call where the best spot is! Trees, Alpine, Chutes, Glaciers?
$165 – 10 hour tour
Book Now

Glacier Travel

Glacier travel is a key piece of the alpine skiing puzzle, learn how to properly assess glaciers, fit the line though safely and the tool to keep your team safe. Glaciology, route finding, managing bergschrunds, roped travel up and down.
$135 – 8 hour tour
Book Now

Advanced Companion Rescue

Learn the ins and out of your new (or old) transceiver and how to properly organize a companion rescue.  This course will focus on searching for multiple burials, organizing group rescues as well as first-aid packaging and rescue.
$135 – 8 hour tour
Book Now

Women’s Steep Skiing

The women take over the Whistler backcountry steeps!  Join Julia Niles and a group of other ripping ladies to learn how to approach and slay steep faces and couloirs.
$135 – 8 hour tour
Book Now

Pre-registration is necessary.

Contact Altus Mountain Guides
604 848 8543


Festival Schedule

Wednesday – January 17

8:00pm to 10:00pm – Backcountry Mentor Panel

@Escape Route – Alpine Demo Centre

Thursday – January 18

8:00pm to 10:00pm – Local Lines

@Arcteryx Whistler

Friday – January 19

8:00am – Ladies Alpine Day Out

8:00am – Ski Mountaineering

8:00am – Advanced Snow Assessment

8:00am – Steep Skiing

8:00am – Glacier Travel

7:00pm to 11:00pm – Live Art Auction

@ Audain Art Museum

Saturday – January 20

8:00am – Intro Split Boarding

8:00am – Crevasse Rescue

8:00am – Ski Mountaineering

8:00am – Women’s Steeps

8:00am – Tantalus Alpine Shred

8:00am – Guided Tour – Whistler/Blackcomb Backcountry

4:00pm – 6:00pm – Altus Apres

@ Escape Route Alpine Demo Centre

Sunday – January 21

8:00am – Intro Ski Touring

8:00am – Advanced Companion Rescue

8:00am – Steep Skiing

8:00am – Big Mountain Riding (split boarding)

8:00am – Guided Tour – Mystery Location

8:00am – Backcountry Videography Clinic


Presenters & Athletes

Justin Lamoureux – Athlete/Guide

Justin has spent over 25 years strapped into a snowboard, and loves it more every year. 2 winter Olympic and a Canadian Olympic record for guy’s halfpipe (7th in 2010), finals in major slopestyle and big air events, a few years racking in top boardercross results and first descents in Alaska and some others around the world. Justin has literally seen it all. Now the majority of his riding time is spent filming on a split board (check out “The Backyard Project”) and working towards being a full backcountry guide. He also has a mechanical engineering degree and has a deep understanding of the mechanics of avalanches. Enthusiastic and always ready for a day of riding and teaching, Justin is a blast to ride with and is always ready with a useful tip to help your riding

Ben Johns – Guide

Born and raised in Canmore, Alberta, Ben has been on skis for almost his entire life and it has been his passion since his introduction to ski mountaineering at the age of 10.  By the age of 14 Ben had already completed the Wapta Ski Traverse and his first avalanche course.  Long before graduating high school, Ben had decided that he wanted to be a Ski Guide.  He takes great pleasure in sharing his love for the mountains.

Ben has accomplished numerous technical ski descents throughout the world including the Yukon, Alaska, Nepal, Patagonia, the Chilean Andes, New Zealand, Japan and even Mexico.  Ben is also a certified rope access supervisor and a registered EMT with the Alberta College of Paramedics.  When Ben is not skiing or guiding he can also be found industrial rigging and working in the film industry.


Ross Berg – Guide

Born in Red Deer, Alberta, Ross discovered the mountains as a teenager visiting western Canada’s best winter destinations as a sponsored snowboarder. At the age of 16, he was introduced to rock climbing through a local Whistler guide. This experience completely captivated him and opened his eyes to the huge potential the mountains presented. In the following years, he completed his certification as an international mountain guide. “I feel privileged to be able to work as a mountain guide, and look forward to sharing the thrill of the mountains with my guests.” Ross has guided, climbed and skied in the European Alps for the last several seasons. When he’s at home he can be found working as a heli-ski guide in winters and climbing alpine rock routes in summer.


Julia Niles – Guide

Julia’s grandfather sparked her love for sliding down snow on sticks. He was a mountain man and dragged her out on even the coldest days at a small skier-owned hill in Vermont. She has been on the hunt for powder ever since. She was part of the first all-female team to ski the Grand Teton, she has guided the highest peaks in North and South America, and her journey led her to become the fifth IFMGA certified woman in the US. She has taken her passion all over the world shredding first descents and composing her infamous poems. She is now happily Canadian settled in Squamish with an awesome husband and two mini-rippers.

Paul McSorley – Guide/Athlete

For the last fifteen years, Paul’s passion for climbing has taken him to five continents and over 25 countries for work and play. With over a decade of guiding professionally, Paul is in his element instructing in his home range or on a remote mountain peak.  He has a penchant for establishing new routes and has made more than a hundred first ascents including two previously unclimbed Patagonian summits and “The Canadian Route” on Fitzroy’s South face.  It’s the interaction with people that Paul loves most about the mountain lifestyle, he speaks English, French, and Spanish and values his friends more than any climb he’s ever done.


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