Snow Skills

As low as:

$210.00 / person

(at 6:1 ratio) Next Trip: Apr 21, 2024 (day trip)


Mountaineering Kit Rental $15.00

Ice Axe, Crampons, Helmet, Harness, Carabiners, Cords and Sling. All these items are required to participate in the course. See the precise technical gear requirements in the 'Gear List' tab within this course information webpage. Once purchased - our rentals are non-refundable.


Climbing steep snow is an essential mountaineering skill for many of the involved peaks and hiking traverses in the Island Alps. On this course, learn snow climbing fundamentals to prepare for travel on steep snow where there is a need to manage a slip and fall risk. Minimal approach times to training areas help us maximize your time, providing opportunities for repeated scenarios under the expert eye of an ACMG Guide. 

This one-day course is great for anyone who likes to learn in bite-sized segments, or those with time constraints. We can accommodate different experience levels and deliver this as both an introduction and/or refresher. If you are new to traveling over technical terrain in the mountains, we recommend following up this course with either Crevasse Rescue or one of our mountain skills courses (such as Mountain Skills Fly-In or Combined Alpine Skills). These courses include snow travel and crevasse rescue in addition to many other necessary skills for safe travel in the mountains. 


  • Strategic route selection
  • Step making
  • Ice axe use
  • End roping and short roping 
  • Snow anchors
  • Opportunities for supervised practice and coaching

Included in the price

  • 1 day of instruction
  • Group technical gear (ropes, etc.)

Not included in the price

  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Personal technical equipment (available as an add-on when you book)
  • Accommodation
  • Personal gear

Questions? Check out our FAQ page or send us an email!


This course is typically held at Mount Washington Alpine Resort to allow for quick and efficient access to firm snow. For this reason, this course is best delivered in spring time in late March and April or while snow is still accessible around 1000m elevation.


A typical day goes from 08:30 to 16:30. The order of curriculum delivery will depend on the instructor, and factors such as weather and snow conditions. Below is a rough idea of what to expect:

08:30  - We typically meet at the base of the Sunrise Chair at Mount Washington Alpine Resort. Here you will sign waivers, and your guide will hand out any rental add-ons purchased when you booked.  

After introductions, you will travel a short distance to the training area, where you will set up for the day. 

16:30 - Debrief, return rentals, and finish the day. 

Questions? Check out our FAQ page for details about our booking and cancellation policy, and other commonly asked questions, or send us an email.


This one-day course can accommodate different experience levels, acting as both an introduction or refresher. However, it is important to understand that this course has limited time, and is not sufficient on its own. We encourage you to seek additional training to put these skills within a broader mountaineering context in order to manage the many additional mountain hazards you will encounter.

To take this course, we recommend that you have a basic understanding of knots at a minimum (this can be gained through courses such as Intro to Rock, or equivalent).

Pre-course homework: 

We ask that you learn to confidently tie the following knots prior to attending so that we can make efficient use of everyone’s time: 

  • Figure 8 (follow through and on a bight)
  • Overhand
  • Double overhand
  • Double fisherman's
  • Clove hitch
  • Prussik 
  • Munter hitch

We recommend checking out the “Animated Knots” website for instructions. 

Questions about the suitability of this course? Send us an email! 

Gear List

Please ensure that all gear is functioning and in good repair. If you have questions about any of the following, please reach out. 


The following can be provided by IAG as a “Mountaineering Kit” add-on for $15 when you book.

  • Helmet (UIAA approved and adjustable)
  • Ice axe* (60-80cm, general mountaineering tool)
  • 4 locking carabiners (one “pear” shaped)
  • 3 non-locking carabiners (two should be matching flat stock)
  • Harness – a simple, lightweight alpine seat harness. 
  • 7mm accessory cord (2 x five-meter lengths)
  • Double shoulder length sewn sling (120cm length, rated to 22kn)
  • Crampons – 10-point, general mountaineering (step-in or strap on both acceptable – bring whatever will fit your boots)


Clothing may depend on the time of year, but please be prepared to get wet and have spare clothes to change into when you finish.

  • Base layer(s) (top and bottom)
  • Mid-weight insulation layer 
  • Warm insulation layer 
  • Waterproof jacket and pants 
  • Warm hat
  • Buff or neck warmer
  • Ski gloves or similar, 2 pairs 


  • Leather or plastic mountaineering boots, or ski touring boots -- These should be stiff enough to effectively kick steps in snow. 
  • Warm socks (plus option of liner)
  • Gaiters (optional if wearing pants with elastic cuff)


  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses which block 100% UV. 
  • Sunscreen (min 30 SPF for lips and skin) 
  • Water bottles (2 L ideally)
  • Pocket knife
  • Camera
  • Notebook and pencil (Rite in the Rain recommended)
  • Lunch (must be consumable on the go)
  • Backpack (around 30L or big enough to fit the contents of this list)


Technical Gear: All items on our technical gear list can be purchased as a “Mountaineering Kit” add on when you book. This includes items on technical gear list, and available for $45 ($15/ day). 

If you require other items from the personal gear list, perhaps check out Sports Rent based out of Victoria, Blue Toque Sports based in Courtenay, and/or on social media to name a few.

Questions about gear? Check out our
FAQ page  and blog, or send us an email. 


Over the years I have done a number of trips with Jan on Vancouver Island and in the Coast Range. Jan's enthusiasm for mountains is infectious. He is great fun to have adventures with and he has helped me push my limits in a safe way. For our first trip together he guided an all woman's snow and ice school that I had helped to organize. His teaching abilities and interpersonal skills were exemplary. Dr. Erika Kellerhals, Quadra Island, BC.
Ken, the guide, was fantastic. He was funny, easy to get along with, and made the whole day both fun and really informative. I'd be happy to recommend Island Alpine Guides to anyone. Trevor Peddle, Victoria, BC
I really enjoyed the Snow Skills course. Ken was great, very knowledgeable and funny. I would definitely recommend the course to any friends interested in boosting their adventure skills. Hayley Johnson, Victoria, BC
Really good training. Jan came prepared with extensive experience and effective teaching skills. He did a quality job of noting our goals (PCT snow, passes in the Sierras), along with evaluating our gear and abilities. His subsequent customizing of course content and instruction techniques made the most of our time together, and maximized our training benefits. Rod B, Victoria