Basic Ski Touring Skills


The Club Touring Programme normally has three courses each year, each led by IFMGA guides and focusing on ski touring skills at 3 levels:

Introduction to Ski Touring Course A course for newcomers to ski mountaineering and ski touring, covering all necessary skills and techniques for safe travel in glaciated mountain country.
Technical Skills - Snow Safety
Technical Skills - Navigation
Technical Skills - Glacier Travel
A series of three individual 2 day modules - these are run consecutively, so can be taken separately or combined.
These courses are focussed on improving skills for individuals who have mastered the basics of ski touring.
Tour Leaders Course Developing the skills needed to lead ski touring groups.

The Club Touring Programme also has an extensive set of courses aimed at improving off-piste skiing techniques and ability.

Many other skills courses are available, for example from Glenmore Lodge, Plas y Brenin, Jagged Globe, Mountain Tracks etc.


There are a handful of recent books in English which provide a useful introduction to ski touring and ski mountaineering skills and techniques. Probably the best is by Eagle Ski Club member and IFMGA guide Bruce Goodlad:

Ski Touring - A Practical Manual 

by Bruce Goodlad (2015) 

Published by Pesda Press

Other books include:

Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering

by Martin Volken, Scott Schnell and Margaret Wheeler (2007)

Free Skiing – How to Adapt to the Mountain

by Jimmy Odén (2007)

A Complete Guide to Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering

by Henry Branigan and Keith Jenns

(Second Edition, 2014)

Rucksack Guide – Ski Mountaineering and Snowshoeing

by Alun Richardson (2009)

Basic skills

This series of videos from Glenmore Lodge gives a taste of some of the skills and tips which are useful in ski touring and ski mountaineering:

"How to get the best from a touring day?" begs the question of what is a good touring day? Dan Carron ran an online session about some of the basics in terms of skills and behaviours needed to get through a day unscathed. Thoughts are then offered on how to move towards maximising the reward from a day. The session is focused on helping those relatively new to touring. The video is available on our YouTube channel:

A Typical Touring Day 

This article by Rob Collister discusses the art of uphill skiing.









Plas y Brenin produced, in conjunction with the British Mountaineering Council and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (now called Mountaineering Scotland), a video called "Off-Piste Essentials" in 2013. This video, which was filmed in the Alps, is available through the British Mountaineering Council online shop (via a streaming service):

Off-Piste Essentials - British Mountaineering Council shop


Rick Shearer, an International Mountain Leader and a navigation trainer for the Club, has produced a detailed GPS buying guide. The guide looks at a wide range of options, including whether to go for tap-screen or touch-screen technology, and how new technology is likely to develop in the next year or two. The recommendations made in the guide are the personal opinion of Rick but they will help all of us to make more informed choices when buying a GPS.

Cathy O'Dowd delivered a webinar on planning ski tours using GPS tracks and online mapping tools. You can find the video on our YouTube channel:

Planning tours with GPS, FatMap & other tools 

Avalanche Awareness & Rescue

Avalanches are the most significant hazard a ski mountaineer is likely to encounter, and if you are caught in an avalanche situation knowing how to find and rescue your companions is critical. Visit our webpage on avalanche awareness for more information.

This video from Glenmore Lodge is also a good starting point for learning more about avalanche awareness. It uses the Be Avalanche Aware! model, which was developed in Scotland, but the basic principles and approach applies anywhere:

Avalanche Awareness

Ken Marsden ran a webinar about transceivers and companion rescue, which offers a quick review of avalanches and burial, and why we need to be proficient at companion rescue. It discusses the rescue shown in the La Chamoniarde video: Secours avalanche en autonomie, pratiquants (niveau 1). Ken has instructed and directed Scottish Mountain Rescue avalanche training courses for ~10 years. The transceivers and companion rescue webinar can be found here:

Transceivers and companion rescue 

 Ken Marsden also delivered a webinar which looks more closely at avalanche transceivers, why we use transceivers in different ways at different stages of the search. He also looks at how electronic & metallic devices interfere with transceivers and what it means for companion rescue. You can find the video here:

A Deep Dive into Avalanche Transceivers

Crevasses and Crevasse Rescue

Rob Collister’s article in The Eagle Ski Club Yearbook 2009 explains some of the dangers associated with crevasses and how to handle them.