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Backcountry Leaders Initiative

Considering the lack of BIPOC AIARE instructors & ski/snowboard guides, this is a free mentorship program.

Climbers of Color’s Backcountry Leaders Initiative provides extended mentorship, education, and coaching for those seeking to further their backcountry skills to become certified AIARE instructors &/or pursue backcountry ski/snowboard guiding. The cohort will be limited to 4 intermediate backcountry* snowboarders and skiers. The program will run from January 2024 - April/ May 2024. Prior goals for this group may include: 

  • Improved forecast interpretation and application skills

  • Improved confidence traveling in advanced and complex terrain

  • Improved confidence traveling to & leading groups in new snowpacks

  • Volcano/big mountain touring efficiencies

  • Pro-1 application

  • AIARE Instructor Trainer Course application

  • Introduction to technical skills for ski-mountaineering/ split-mountaineering



Climbers of Color recognizes a conglomerate of factors that creates an intermediate ability level. Rigid prerequisites are outlined below; any further questions or concerns may be directed to



  • AIARE I certified (may be taken this season, see AIARE I page for application) 

  • 2 or more seasons of backcountry travel with at least 5 days/ season

  • Familiarity with avalanche forecasting websites

  • Backcountry travel gear & familiarity with applications


Course FAQs:


  • I have all the prerequisites except for an AIARE I, can I still apply?

    • If you can receive AIARE I certification this season, yes! CoC will offer three AIARE I this winter, including many scholarship opportunities. 


  • What if I do not want to become an AIARE instructor &/or ski/snowboard guide?

    • I (Cal’ S.) encourage you to re-think this! There are very few BIPOC AIARE educators and backcountry guides. Let’s work to change this together!





January 13th: Initial meetup! Location TBD, but likely Snoqualmie Pass


February 19th: Review materials from the initial meetup. Expand further into snow-test pits & their results. Location TBD


March 1 - 3: Overnight trip as introductory to winter camping, on-site riding, and forecasting. Location TBD


April 5 - 7; April 12 - 14 (optional backup dates): Cohort trip to the desired venue. Apply skillsets from previous trips to a different/ previously unvisited zone. 


May 10 - 13: Volcano expedition. Pahto, Kulshan, Takhoma, etc. Where do we want to spend 4-nights?!

Questions? Email

This is not an AIARE Level 1/Companion Rescue course. The focus of this mentorship program is to pool the cohort, mentors included knowledge and education. Participants will not be guided, nor should they expect to be guided, as this is a free offering from CoC.

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