Pathfinder Program

Location: Van Isle & Canadian Coast Range

Duration: 6 Weeks

For those keen to gain self reliance in the backcountry ski or snowboard arena, the Pathfinder Program will give you the skills to have fun and stay safe while exploring the untracked mountain environment.

You will improve your ski or snowboard technique and tactics for off piste conditions while building confidence and learning the keys to survival in a remote winter mountain environment. Skills such as trip preparation, navigation, route finding, winter camping, avalanche safety, wilderness first aid and crevasse rescue will all become second nature.

For those looking to gain leadership skills, this course will earn you 3 basic certifications that are prerequisite to the guiding industry and give you plenty of opportunities to lead the group in real life scenarios under the supervision of professional mountain guides.

There is never a dull moment on course especially on the multi-day backcountry excursions… all culminating with an amazing helicopter access ski/board mountaineering trip to finish off the program. You’ll have some serious adventures to tell the grand kids about!

Prior backcountry experience is not required… however applicants should be confident skiers or snowboarders, have a good level of physical fitness and a strong sense of adventure.

Certifications Included

Backcountry Pathfinder Program – Included Certifications

Avalanche Safety Training – AST 1

  • 2 Days – Endorsed by the Canadian Avalanche Association the AST 1 certification is integrated into your introduction to ski touring and winter survivals skills training. The course covers recognition of avalanche terrain, safe backcountry travel, snow pack evaluation, avalanche rescue skills and risk management at an introductory level. This is a prerequisite to the AST 2 advanced avalanche course and is now required to achieve ISIA international ski instructors stamp for ski instructors.

Avalanche Safety Training – AST 2

  • 5 days – The more advanced AST 2 certification is integrated into your advanced backcountry mountain skills trip. This course looks more in depth at travel in avalanche terrain, snow pack evaluation, avalanche rescue skills and risk management. This is a prerequisite for the professional guiding level avalanche courses.

Advanced Wilderness First Aid & CPR level C

  • 10 Days – This intensive course teaches you how to manage injuries and illness in a remote wilderness setting. You will learn how to improvise treatments and evacuations with limited supplies. It is jammed packed with realistic simulations. A requirement for ski guides and patrollers as well as many outdoor leadership positions.

Upon finishing the course you will receive a Pathfinder Program Certificate of Completion.

Course Syllabus

5 Week Backcountry Pathfinder Program – Syllabus

  • Arrival

Week 1

  • Avalanche Safety Training 1
  • Map & compass navigation & mountain weather
  • Winter survival skills trip

Week 2

  • Off-Piste focused ski or snowboard tuition

Week 3

  • Off-piste ski improvement sessions
  • Glacier travel and crevasse rescue workshops

Week 4

  • Multi-day backcountry trip / Advanced alpine wilderness module
  • Avalanche Safety Training level 2

Week 5

  • Helicopter Accessed Trip – Intro to Ski Mountaineering Course.

Week 5 – 6

  • 90hr Advanced Wilderness first aid course & exams / CPR C

Optional Add – On

  • Surf Trip to the coast


Note* Schedule and trip locations may vary due to weather conditions and group needs.

What's Included?

What’s Included in the Pathfinder Program?

Included in the costs:

  • 6 weeks accommodation either on Vancouver Island or in the BC Coast Range (To keep this course flexible actual locations will depend on conditions – shared or private room options available)
  • Transportation within the program
  • Weekday evening meals (5 nights per week)
  • Lift passes for any resort based course days
  • All coaching, guiding and training fees
  • Avalanche Safety Training level 1 & level 2 certification fees
  • Wilderness first aid & CPR level C certification fees
  • Backcountry safety equipment rentals and group camping gear
  • All course materials
  • Equipment advice
  • Some organized extra curricular activities and social events
  • Section 8 Schwag (Usually a cool Section 8 hockey jersey or hoodie)

Additional Costs:

  • Flights to Vancouver Island
  • Travel medical insurance (mandatory if not a Canadian resident)
  • Trip cancellation insurance (optional but highly recommended)
  • Breakfast, lunches and weekend dinners (all meals are included on multi-day backcountry trips)
  • Personal ski touring and camping equipment (see equipment list)
  • Optional extra curricular activities on weekends.
  • Bonus surf week week option available at an additional cost
Extra Curricular Activities

Extra Curricular Activities

At Section 8 there’s always fun stuff to do in your spare time on the weekends. Activities are usually chosen by group consensus but to give you an idea, these are things we’ve done in the past:

  • We usually enter a Section 8 dodgeball team in the local league and play weekly matches.
  • We’ll head to the big city watch an NHL hockey game! Revelstoke is a few hours road trip from Calgary to catch a Flames game… and on our Vancouver Island courses we often catch the ferry over to Vancouver to see the ‘Canucks’ in action and party it up city style.
  • We’ll often rent the local arena and play a Section 8 hockey game… which can be pretty comical if you are just learning to skate.
  • Learn how to make hand make skis and snowboards with our Friends at ‘Kindred Custom Skis & Boards.’
  • A day of Snowmobiling is always a great Canadian past time.
  • We go on day adventures such as bungy jumping or caving
  • Float around at the aquatic centre
  • Practice your moves on the trampolines at the gymnastics centre
  • Hang out at the Climbing Gym
  • Take on a little extra backcountry adventure with one of our guides
  • Road trip to another ski resort nearby
  • Surfing, sea kayaking, whale watching, fishing, mountain biking, golfing, white water rafting, and having weenie roasts on the beach are all options on our Vancouver Island courses


Extend Your Course…

Enhance your Section 8 experience by adding our infamous surf week to the end of your course…

Bonus Surf Week

  • Road trip to the Pacific Rim National Park on the coast of Vancouver Island and go surfing. A great way to relax after all that skiing and boarding on the Pathfinder program!
Dates, Prices & Registration

Pathfinder Program – Vancouver Island and The Coast Range, Canada

Course Dates:

  • March 12th – April 20th, 2017

Regular Course Prices:

  • Course + Shared Room & Half Board: $9,995 CAD
  • Course + Private Room & Half Board: $10,995 CAD
  • Course Only (provide your own food, lodging & transport): $7,995 CAD

Note: A non-refundable deposit of $2,000 CAD is required to confirm your space on the program.

Science Friction Project - Ski Technique Self Assessment Tool

Outsmart your ski instructor

& troubleshoot your own technique?

  • Join the ‘Science Friction Club’ and get a little taste of what you’ll learn on a Section 8 course…. don’t worry it’s FREE.
  • Troubleshoot your ski technique and learn to assess others with our downloadable skill assessment tool.
  • Receive cool ski tips and other snow sliding words of wisdom.
  • Get to know what Section 8 is all about and stay informed about camps, instructor training and mountain leadership courses.

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