We get asked a lot of questions about our #MASTERtheMOUNTAIN camps, with skiers and snowboarders scoping out their next big adventure. Get the lowdown on everything you need to know about this series.
What is the Nonstop ‘#MASTERtheMOUNTAIN’ series?
Inspired by all our favourite elements of skiing and snowboarding, our #MASTERtheMOUNTAIN series is a collection of month-long camps designed around pro coaching, backcountry riding and off-grid adventure, shared with a like-minded group of riders. Based across two locations in Canada and France, each features a unique and epic finale – a multi-day touring trip staying in a remote backcountry lodge – where you’ll ride untouched powder in the wilds of the mountains.
The ultimate goal of this series is to safely prepare riders to tackle any terrain, in any condition, with confidence and style, while embracing adventure, having fun and truly immersing in the laid-back pace of mountain living. We want every rider to be uninhibited, able to stare down any slope with total confidence.
Where are the camps available?
Our month-long camps are available in two locations across two continents: Fernie, British Columbia and Serre Chevalier, France. Each has been chosen for its wild and varied terrain, along with its snowfall and authentic local culture.
A steep and deep resort, Fernie has a reputation for light and fluffy powder, rolling bowls and a local spirit so infectious you’ll never want to leave. Set in a storied zone of southeast British Columbia, this is a perfect venue to develop your skills in untamed terrain and explore wild backcountry.
Serre Chevalier is a freeride mecca in the Southern Alps, spanning a series of peaks to form a sprawling ski area known for its beautiful and burly terrain, larch forest tree riding, and easy backcountry access. The valley forms a string of charming ski villages with a rich heritage.
Who are they for and am I good enough to join?
Our camps are open to all riders. Anyone with a passion for the mountains, with an appetite to improve at a sport they love, will be in good company.
This series is particularly suited to riders looking to spend an extended amount of time in the mountains, keen to push their limits, improve in powder and off-piste terrain, and learn about the backcountry – as well as to disconnect from the outside world.
The length is perfect for an adventurous sabbatical from work or escape from normal life. Most of the riders who join us are solo travellers, so fear not if you are travelling alone. We’re also regularly joined by couples and small groups of friends, with everyone united by one common passion.
From an ability perspective, the camps are designed for adventurous intermediate to expert skiers and snowboarders. As a minimum you should be a confident resort rider comfortable on most groomed slopes. Off-piste experience is a plus but by no means required – we’re joined by lots of skiers and snowboarders with limited experience off-piste, so you’ll be in good company. Check out our Ability Guide to see where you sit and ask us if you are unsure.
During the camp, you will be split into small, ability-based groups, so you’ll ride with people of a similar level and working on similar goals. Intermediate groups will work on developing technique and confidence, while more advanced riders will be challenged to level up from day one.
Am I fit enough?
You should be healthy and have a good level of general fitness to join this camp. First, this will ensure you get the most from your time with us. Second, being in good shape helps to reduce the risk of any injuries.
You don’t need to be running marathons, but you should be prepared to ski and snowboard most days.
How many people join each camp and how many to a coaching group?
Each camp varies. In Fernie, we limit places to 24 per camp across ski and snowboard, to create a close-knit and social group dynamic, with people from all walks of life. In Serre Chevalier, places are limited to 12—18 riders.
Coaching group sizes are kept small, with no more than 7 riders, to ensure a social dynamic on snow while providing time for one-to-one feedback.
What is backcountry touring and how much backcountry is involved?
Backcountry touring involves the use of specialist skis and splitboards to walk uphill, in order to access and ride unpatrolled and remote zones, away from the borders of a controlled ski area, as Mother Nature intended.
Touring is essentially a feeling of freedom, accessing the wilderness with the power of your own body and mind. The reward is being off-the-beaten track, with meditative uphill climbs followed by fresh and powder-laden descents - which will taste that much sweeter than any other approach.
Our #MASTERtheMOUNTAIN camps balance both resort and backcountry riding to make the most of your time. We’ll spend a handful of days in the backcountry through avalanche and touring clinics, before a 3-4 day touring retreat in the final week. The rest of your time is spent in resort, getting mileage and honing your skills as we explore increasingly challenging terrain.
Do I need any touring experience to join?
No. These camps are open to any rider, with or without prior touring experience. If you’ve never toured or been in the backcountry before, you’ll learn all the essential skills and knowledge to safely ride and navigate wilderness terrain. And if you already possess some touring know-how, we will continue to build on your knowledge, awareness and skill in the backcountry.
What kind of coaching and backcountry training are involved?
The ultimate goal of our #MASTERtheMOUNTAIN series is to equip riders with the skills and confidence to ride any terrain on the mountain, from resort groomers all the way to backcountry powder fields.
We combine all-terrain coaching with backcountry-focused clinics to furnish you with the fundamental skills needed to fill your boots in the mountains. You’ll get to grips with off-piste skiing techniques, learn about mountain and avalanche safety, and be taught how to use touring equipment.
Coaching will develop your off-piste freeride skills, and the venues we’ve chosen boast terrain that help us do this, with steeps, powder, trees and gulleys all accessible within resort. Our all-mountain coaches will guide you in small groups, tackling varied terrain and providing helpful tips and tactics along the way.
Complementing this is a series of avalanche and backcountry clinics. You will learn about avalanche safety and decision-making in workshops led by certified professionals, including how to use a beacon, shovel and probe in simulated search and rescue scenarios.
You will also learn how to tour in guided clinics, using specialist touring equipment. You’ll learn skills like kick turns, tactics for navigation, and tips on transitions, as well as how to prepare and what to pack for a day in the backcountry.
What are the backcountry finales all about?
Each camp culminates with a remote, hut-based touring trip in the final week, shared with your fellow participants. Designed to be a unique and memorable experience, this is the highlight of the trip and provides us with a tangible objective to work towards. Having acquired the essential skills, you’ll be ready and raring to escape into the backcountry when the time arrives. This is a chance to unplug from the outside world, embrace the simple pleasures of mountain life, and enjoy some of the best powder skiing and snowboarding you could imagine.
On the Fernie camp, we head on a four-day touring retreat at the Boulder Hut, a backcountry cabin nestled in the wilds of BC’s Purcell Mountain Range – and only accessible by heli. A series of rustic, cosy log cabins serve as your base, with daily touring led by expert guides to remote fields, wilderness bowls and steep chutes. A historic hut with a 15,000 acre tenure, fresh food is prepared by a chef daily, with evenings spent swapping stories and sipping wine by the log fire.
In Serre Chevalier, the finale takes place at Refuge Buffere, a welcoming cabin in the Southern Alps situated in a basin surrounded by powder fields and high alpine terrain. Over three days, you’ll explore the surrounding area on daily touring missions, followed by social evenings and hearty food in the warmth of the hut.
How do I know if backcountry touring is for me?
There’s only one way – try it, and see for yourself.
Backcountry touring essentially involves walking uphill with specialist equipment, before riding back down in untouched snow. Touring may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s one of the purest and most rewarding forms of skiing and snowboarding.
If you enjoy long walks in nature, bounding through deep powder, keeping fit and getting your heart rate up, you’re bound to enjoy touring.
What other adventures are involved?
It’s safe to say the schedules are full to the rafters. Besides the coaching, clinics and backcountry finale, each camp features experiences that make the most of the local area.
In Fernie, the highlight is an optional guided day of cat-skiing or -boarding at Fernie Wilderness Adventures, which doubles up as great preparation for the Boulder Hut. As the birthplace of cat-skiing, there is no better place to give it a go than in BC. With a snowcat as your ride for the day, you’ll zig-zag to wild peaks before dropping in to ski fresh lines – lap after lap, all day long. We’ll also organise weekly socials like curling and watching the local ice hockey team.
On the Serre Chevalier camp, each week concludes with a road trip to a nearby ski area, as we chase new terrain and fresh snow. The highlight on the roster is La Grave, a mythical and historic climbing village which boasts some of the best off-piste terrain in Europe. Accessed by a single gondola, the terrain is natural, rugged and unpatrolled, with soft snow, steep faces and couloirs all on the hit list.
What equipment do I need to bring?
For regular resort riding, skiers need their own skis, boots and poles, and snowboarders need their own snowboard and boots. We recommend an all-mountain ski or snowboard and can provide further advice if necessary.
For the backcountry elements, skiers will need a suitable ski with a touring binding, while snowboarders will need a splitboard. You will also need skins and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver, shovel, probe). An airbag is optional.
If you have your own touring setup and avy gear, you are welcome to bring this. If not, there are a few options.
In Fernie, we have our own fleet of specialist touring skis, splitboards, skins and avalanche safety equipment which you are free to use on any of the included backcountry trips.
In Serre Chevalier, you can rent or buy gear in resort from one of our partners at a good rate. If you plan on more adventures in the future, it may make sense to buy rather than rent. You’ll be using it a lot throughout the camp, so having your own gear is a plus.
Which one is for me – Fernie or Serre Chevalier?
This is a personal question and ultimately depends on where you want to do your riding and which destination appeals most. It’s a toss-up between the powder fields of British Columbia, or the endless peaks of the Alps.
Both camps follow a similar structure with a similar objective – designed to hone your off-piste and backcountry skills in preparation for an epic touring finale, with trips and adventures throughout.
If you can’t decide, toss a coin or put both on your bucket list.
I can’t do 4 weeks. Do you have camps of shorter durations?
Yes. We know getting 4 weeks away from work, family or your normal schedule can be challenging and requires some forward-planning.
If you have less time to spare, we have 1 and 2 week options in Canada and France.
One of our most popular trips is a 2-week all-mountain camp in Fernie, designed to fine-tune your all-mountain riding with a group of like-minded people, with the option of a guided day cat-skiing too. We also have a 1-week all-mountain camp in Serre Chevalier.
If you have any other questions, get in touch with our team and we’ll be happy to help.
Otherwise, check out the camps here:
We look forward to speaking with you.