A day of private mentorship in avalanche terrain for you and your backcountry partners.

Whether you have just taken your first avalanche course or have been skiing avalanche terrain for decades, this course can help take your terrain assessment skills to the next level.  Terrain assessment is the most important skill for moving through avalanche terrain safely and being able to choose the right slope to ride given the avalanche conditions of the day.  

We have found over the years that the standard Avalanche Level 1 and Level 2 courses are a little light on moving through avalanche terrain, due to group size and participants’ skiing/riding skills.  The group size on the Terrain Assessment Tour is limited to you and your backcountry partners, so you are able to move through a significant amount of terrain under the direct mentorship of an experienced guide.  

Terrain Assessment Tour

These courses are offered at Washington Pass, Stevens Pass, and Blewett Pass.  They can be snowmobile access trips at Washington Pass, Ski Area “Out of Bounds” skiing at Stevens Pass or standard backcountry trips at Stevens or Blewett.

Participants will meet in the early morning to discuss the weather and avalanche forecasts and make a plan for the day.  Since this course will be a private course with your touring partners the terrain choice will be up to the participants and will mimic a real day out with your backcountry partners, with the added benefit of having an experienced ski guide as a resource.

The day will be spent moving through as much terrain as possible given the group skill level, fitness, learning goals and avalanche conditions for the day.  An emphasis will be placed on getting the best turns possible while analyzing the group decision-making process along the way.

There is not a set curriculum for this particular course.  Each group brings a unique skill set and experience base to work with and the course will be customized in order to increase the group’s ability to assess avalanche terrain and become better at choosing the right slopes in the future.

Gear List

Backcountry Skiing Day Trips



  • Washington Pass Backcountry Day Trips
  • Stevens Pass Backcountry Day Trips

A NOTE ABOUT EQUIPMENT LISTS: Nothing can ruin a trip faster than having the wrong gear for the conditions at hand.  All our programs are subject to rapid and severe changes in the weather.  Select garments that are warm, lightweight and durable.  Generally speaking, the best arrangement is to think in terms of layers – a system that dries quickly, allow flexibility and resists wind, water and abrasion. All of us have different tolerances for heat or cold; for example, you might choose warmer gloves than specified here if you tend to get cold hands. If you have doubts about a specific garment’s appropriateness, please talk to your guide in advance about conditions you are most likely to experience. This list is built for a trip with an unsettled weather forecast.  With a good weather forecast some of these items may be left behind to save weight. All trips require that you bring adequate food and water, please see our “food” equipment list for details.


Head, Hands & Feet

  • Warm Hat
  • Sun Hat
  • Buff
  • Lightweight Gloves (for uphill; softshell)
  • Heavyweight Gloves (for downhill; waterproof and breathable)
  • Ski Socks

Upper Body Layers

  • Lightweight Base Layer Top
  • Lightweight Fleece jacket
  • Softshell Jacket with Hood
  • Puffy Jacket with Hood
  • Hardshell Jacket with Hood
  • Additional Puff Jacket (for snowmobile)

Lower Body Layers

  • Lightweight Baselayer Bottom
  • Softshell Pants
  • Hardshell Pants (worn over softshell pants for snowmobile)


  • Backpack (30-40 Liters, designed for skiing)
  • Sunglasses

ACCESSORIES continued…

  • Goggles
  • Sunscreen and spf lip balm
  • Water & Food (we strongly recommend not using drink hoses during winter trips)
  • Headlamp
  • Blister Kit
  • optional: Ski Helmet


  • Skis or Split Board (we recommend tech/pin bindings and skis  105mm to 125mm waist width for winter conditions)
  • Climbing Skins (sized and cut for your skis or board)
  • Ski or Snowboard Boots
  • Ski Poles (collapsible for split boarders)
  • Ski Strap (rubber voile style)

AVALANCHE SAFETY (these may be rented from NCMG)

  • Transceiver (3 antenna, less than 5 years old)
  • Shovel (metal blade required)
  • Probe (240cm or longer)


Terrain Assessment Tour
Skills Required

To get the most out of this course we recommend all participants take a Level 1 Avalanche Course prior to this course.  That being said, if you have a solid foundation from years of riding in avalanche terrain and understand the concepts of the Avalanche Problem and Avalanche Hazard Assessment then you may take this course without formal education. 

The most important skills to have to make the most out of this course are good backcountry skiing/riding skills and fitness.  The more efficiently you move through the backcountry the more you and your partners will get out of this course.  

Terrain Assessment Tour