The only academy-level program in the United States where young athletes can be immersed in the backcountry environment learning crucial skills and refining techniques for a lifetime of success and love of the mountains. 
Backcountry skiing and riding is a sport where skiing out-of-bounds is the norm and searching for the perfect powder turn is never ending. It allows skiers and riders to experience the wild mountain environment without ski lifts, groomers, trail closures, or crowds. It requires a higher level of knowledge about traveling safely in the mountains, making decisions, and working as a team.  


CVA Backcountry is the leader in backcountry skiing and snowboarding education for middle and high school students. We provide training in off-piste skiing skills, avalanche education, and ski mountaineering, and we use backcountry skiing and adventure travel to develop skills in leadership, problem-solving, communication, risk management, and teamwork. Our local venues around the Sugarloaf area and the White Mountains offer amazing opportunities for training and skill development. This program is designed with the adventurous skier in mind, who is always up for exploring and searching for the best terrain and snow.

Program Details

Skills to excel and stay safe in the mountains take years to learn, and a lifetime to master.  We are proud of the technical skillset and ski resume that our students leave CVA with, but we are prouder of their ability to work through the decision-making process, manage risk, continue to learn, and strive for excellence in their backcountry ski career. 

Acquired Skills, Certifications & Trainings

  • Uphill ski touring technique; skiing efficiency and skill, transition organization and efficiency.
  • Downhill technique; diverse skiing skill in all snow conditions and terrain and line selection - powder, chowder, bumps, breakable crust, groomers, corn, wind slab, hardpack and ice, trees, steep skiing, couloirs, spines, open faces, etc.
  • General mountain travel; gear selection and familiarity, clothing layering, nutrition, personal system organization and efficiency, pacing.
  • Mountain sense; mountain navigation, route finding and selection, hazard analysis, decision making.
  • Interpersonal skills; leadership, group communication, teamwork, time management.
  • Mountaineering and Ski Mountaineering; general use of technical climbing equipment, crampons, ice tools, basic climbing and rappelling techniques, and application of skills.
  • American Avalanche Association-recognized Level One Avalanche Course
  • American Avalanche Association-recognized Level Two Avalanche Course (for upperclassmen with multiple years in the backcountry program)
  • SOLO Schools Wilderness First Aid certification
  • SOLO Schools Wilderness First Responder certification (for upperclassmen with multiple years in the backcountry program)
  • Yearly attendance at Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop


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  • Garrett Morrow, Backcountry Program Director

    Growing up at Sugarloaf with a Dad on the ski patrol, Garrett developed a love of skiing, and the mountains, early on. In high school, Garrett joined the ski team, and after becoming team captain, he discovered his desire for coaching.  Although a former racer, Garrett’s passion has always been the backcountry, and exploring the world off-resort. 
    Garrett brings over two decades of experience to CVA. After traveling all over the continental US and Canada in search of deep powder and steep descents, he returned to the Valley to foster, and instill, a love of backcountry skiing and riding in future generations. As the trip coordinator and lead guide for Saddleback Mountain, Garrett led uphill ski tours in the winter and guided hiking and paddling trips in the summer. At Sugarloaf, he served as a coach for the Big Mountain Bubblecuffer program, helping 12–16 year-olds interested in touring to safely explore, and navigate, all-mountain terrain. 

    Learning how to be safe in the mountains is a pivotal component of Backcountry skiing and riding. Garrett’s experience in rescue operations, as a ski patroller and fire fighter, help him to better prepare the athletes that he works with. His certifications include Wilderness First Responder, Registered Maine Guide, PSIA Level 1, AIARE Level 1 and Avalanche Rescue, Swift Water Rescue Technician, Pro Board Firefighter 1 & 2, and Wildland Firefighter. 

    In the off-season, Garrett spends his summers rafting, mountain biking, and hiking. He even completed the full Appalachian Trail!
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