Sidecountry & Ski Touring

sidecountry sunrise banner

2-Day Group Course Overview:

What is Sidecountry? Sidecountry is essentially ski touring within the bounds of the resorts we know and love. It is sometimes lift-accessed, but also introduces “skinning” to access areas of in-bounds skiing that would otherwise be difficult to get to. During the course, we’ll ski off-piste but there are no hard rules to say that a lap of your favourite piste can´t be part of the day!

Side country ski touring

Is this course right for you?

Over 2 days, we introduce basic elements of sidecountry and ski touring one by one. We’ll start from scratch, and we’ll take it from the top. We focus on basic off-piste ski technique, but also on building a foundational understanding of ski touring in simple terrain. We aim to create a familiar and safe learning environment for everyone and explore what’s required for safe sidecountry journeys without the added stress and exposure of being far into the backcountry. By the end of the course, you will have a good understanding of what is required for independent and safe Sidecountry journeys – and how you can get there!

In order to get the most out of your course, a requirement is that you are comfortably doing consistent, controlled parallel turns on blue runs in variable conditions and have a good level of fitness. In a day, we might be ascending as much as 600-800 metres on our skins! No prior experience of ski touring is needed though!

Side country mountain sunrise

2-day Group Course Itinerary

We will spend the full 2 days within the bounds of Cairngorm Ski Resort, doing a mixture of lift-accessed skiing, ski touring and skiing adjacent activities such as basic avalanche training. Together we will cover downhill off-piste skiing technique as well as uphill travel on skins. Planning, decision-making, safety and more are also on the agenda. The meeting place is the Cairngorm Ski Resort car park at 8:30 in the morning. On Sunday, we aim to finish in good time, allowing for travel back home afterwards.

Day 1 (Saturday)

  • Meeting in the Cairngorm Ski Resort car park, getting to know each other, and going over the itinerary for the weekend.
  • Kit check #1 – going over the differences in ski touring gear versus resort skiing gear for downhill skiing.
  • We hit the resort! The morning will be spent on-piste (lift-accessed). You’ll receive coaching with a focus on techniques for off-piste skiing.
  • “Planning a Sidecountry journey” session (An introduction to tools for making choices on the hill, weather and “BAA”)
  • We make our way outside and practice avalanche companion rescue during an afternoon ski tour. We also have a look at uphill equipment and emergency equipment.
  • “Debrief” and planning for Sunday.

Day 2 (Sunday)

We put all our skills together and explore the Cairngorm Ski Resort – Sidecountry-style! The day can consist of a number of ascents and descents on varying terrain – we will employ and practise our new skills and learn a bit more as the day progresses. At the end of the day there will be time for questions and having a look at what comes next in your ski touring journey!

Kit List

We recommend you either bring your own kit or rent from Ellis Brigham or Tiso in Aviemore. You are responsible for bringing your own kit. If you struggle to find any of the kit listed below or have questions, reach out to us and we can give you recommendations on where to turn and answers to any questions you might have!

To be able to participate, participants must bring the following essential gear. In terms of clothing, remember that the Cairngorms can be harsh – bring clothing for any type of weather!

Essential Hardware

  • Helmet
  • Avalanche Safety Equipment (Transceiver, Probe and Shovel)
  • Backpack (Ideally 20-30L with the capacity to carry skis)
  • Skis with Ski Touring Bindings
  • Ski Skins
  • Ski Boots with Walk Mode and Compatible with chosen ski binding
  • Ski poles
  • Ski Goggles
  • Headtorch
  • Water Bottle and lots of snacks


  • Base Layers
  • Warm Mid Layer (Fleece / Primaloft Recommended)
  • Spare Warm Layer
  • Waterproofs
  • 2x Warm gloves or Mitts
  • Hat
  • Buff
  • Ski Socks

We also offer Private courses over one, two or three days.

If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact us for further information – we are happy to answer!

See you on the hill soon!

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