Frequently Asked Questions
What level of skier/boarder do I have to be?
The snow in the backcountry is not machine prepared you need to have experience skiing off piste (away from the groomed trails) & be comfortable skiing a variety of snow conditions & terrain. You don’t need to be an off piste expert but need to be able to maintain control of your skis & link turns off piste in all types of snow conditions.
What level of difficulty are your tours?
We offer basic introductory tours through to advanced arduous tours. Your required fitness level will depend upon the level of tour undertaking but you should have at least a good level of fitness.
Backcountry skiing is an aerobic activity, the terrain we ski is away from the ski lifts & time spent climbing on skis is longer than descending. Stamina, endurance, technical ability, mental & physical strength, are all considerations when choosing the right tour for you but don’t be put off as our guides will help you along the way. "How do you eat an Elephant? One Bite at a time!" Refer to our TOUR DIFFICULTY TABLE to gauge the tour for you.
If you hold a good level of fitness & skiing skills with no prior BC experience you may be okay for a lot of our tours as we can guide you through the usage of the BC equipment. If you have some familiarity with BC equipment but do not have an adequate level of fitness or skiing ability you may struggle on some of our advanced tours regardless of your prior experience. Your BC experience is important but your skiing ability & fitness level is more vital. When it comes to our TOUGH tours your BC experience becomes more relevant. These are big days where we need to make a lot of ground so being familiar & comfortable with the gear helps us to achieve our goals.
Although it is difficult to get it right all the time we do our best to match the group & this is where it is very important you are honest with your self appraisal so as not to jepordise the groups' experience. It is rarely a problem but if it is plainly obvious you are struggling from the outset we will make other arrangements.
That doesn’t mean you can’t ski with us, our BC Intro Tour is the least demanding of all our tours and a great way for you to gauge your ability. We can also provide customised tours for group or one on one tours but we will need advanced notice for this.
Do I need to be an experienced backcountry skier/boarder?
Not at all, you need only be an experienced skier & we will guide you through the backcountry & familiarise you with the equipment.
Can you customise tours to my needs?
If you are concerned about your fitness level &/or ability we can customise a trip to suit your needs whether it’s for your own group or a single person. The outcomes of the day will depend upon your capabilities, current snow & weather conditions.
I am concerned I won’t fit in with the group, can I book as a single?
SMBC can provide a one on one service but minimum tour costs must be met. Having such a low client to guide ratio will allow us to customise the day to meet your ability & endurance maximising your experience & dramatically increase your learning!
How big are your groups?
This depends upon the type of trip, more advanced trips will have a lower guide to client ratio 1:3 & most others will be 1:5
How much do trips cost?
See Our Tours to find a package that suits you.
Moderate & Challenging: Guide to client ratio
Tough: Guide to Client ratio
Our trips are run out of our base at Guthega Mountain Centre.
- Vehicle: This is the easiest way to access Guthega. Follow Guthega Rd to the end where you will see the Guthega Mountain Centre, we are upstairs on the Middle floor. Be sure to carry chains at all times as it is legally required from the June long weekend to the October long weekend, drive to conditions at all times & listen to local radio stations for road condition updates. Allow longer times if necessary.
- From Jindabyne take Kosciuszko Rd & turn off onto Guthega Rd & follow it to the end. Allow an hour
- If arriving in vehicle from Perisher take the Link Rd between Smiggins & Guthega Rd if open, this road closes in winter & may only be open very early & late season. If closed take the Guthega Rd turn off from the Kosciuszko Rd & proceed to the Rd’s end. Allow about 45mins if road is clear.
- Ski Tube/Skiing Access for Tour Participants: Catch Ski Tube to Blue Cow, meet SMBC guide at Cowpaccino Cafe at uphill end of platform. Lifts & runs are still closed at this time & your guide will escort you to Guthega Mountain Centre. We will advise you of what time Ski Tube to catch.
- Accessing Guthega Mountain Centre when skiing at Guthega: take Norwegian Rd, look for Snowy Mountains Backcountry sign then then turn right onto Home Trail. Ski to the bottom of the Car Park Double Chair where you will find the Guthega Mountain Centre. SMBC HQ & the Mountin Ear Cafe is located on the middle floor. Access through the resort on skis can be limited by seasonal conditions, lift & run opening/closing times, refer to a trail map for lift operating times. Early & late season when access in between ski areas may be restricted SMBC may still be operating tours. See above details on vehicular access.
What gear do I need to bring?
Please see the "SMBC CLASSROOM" page for the detailed equipment lists.
Other than the recommended gear list what else should I bring?
You will only need the items listed on the gear list. We will rationalise your pack so your aren’t carrying unnecessary weight. Through experience a backcountry skier will omit unecessary items to reduce weight, we will fast track you on this process!
Where can I hire Alpine Touring Equipment?
SMBC have a modern fleet of Alpine Touring skis, adjustable poles & climbing skins for hire, there is allowance for hire on our Online Booking form.
What sort of food should I bring?
Simple easy to eat food like bread rolls, snacks, trail mix & energy bars.
Do you offer overnight tours?
How do I book a trip?
Go to our Contacts Page & submit queries or fill out a booking on our Onlibe Bookings Page
Is there any winter parking restrictions in the Kosciuzko National Park
Overnight parking from midnight to 6:30a.m. is not allowed at Perisher Valley, this is an enforcable regulation during the winter ski season.
What about accident insurance?
Some of the appeal of the outdoors is that it is a dynamic environment & whilst we do our best to mitigate risks it is impossible to eliminate them all & some situations are unavoidable. We strongly recommend that you take out ambulance insurance. For around $50 it is money well spent, if you have private health insurance you should already be covered but check your policy.
Time Management & Joining a Group
More than destinations reached the quality of the experience & what you take away from it is the best measure of the day. There is many things that can determine what a group can achieve whithin a period & SMBC tours have been designed & graded to give every real chance of achieving the expectations of our tours. You may be strong at skiing & find kick turning whilst skinning difficult. When joining a group it is important to have empathy for all within it. The endurance of the group, snow depth, snow cover, snow surface conditions, weather conditons & attitudes are some of the many factors affecting the outcomes of any tour. Safety is SMBC's highest priority & in order to manage our tours the guides will consider all these things. While experience & satisfaction of the day are very important so to is having enough energy & good spirit to enjoy the tour through to its finish arriving safely at the scheduled time.
Terms & Conditions
Snowy Mountains Backcountry Terms & Conditions
It is essential that participants are honest about their suitability for our tours, please read our TOUR DIFFICULTY TABLE, tour page information & FAQ’s. Tours will be conducted to suit the scheduled rating, if it is obvious from the start that you are unable to meet the tour’s rating as described you will be escorted back to our HQ. No refund will be available; the guide has the final word on this decision.
Modification of Itineraries
Snowy Mountains Backcountry is located in the more protected sub alpine area. If necessary SMBC will modify tour routes to the sub alpine before or during the tour. If SMBC go ahead with the tour & you choose to not take part or leave the tour there will be no refund.
Full payment & a completed booking form 7 days prior to tour commencement is required
- $250pp for BC Intro Tour, Guthega Backcountry, Main Range Tour
- $300pp for Western Faces Experience, 3Pks High Route
Balance of payment
If tour numbers are less than minimum number you will still be offered participation but will need to pay the balance prior to tour departure. Economic constraints require pricing based on a minimum of 3 participants per tour.
You are able to book as a private or a double if you choose however pricing will vary accordingly. See BOOKING ONLINE > PAYMENT.
Once we have received payment refunds will only be available if SMBC cancel the tour. If SMBC cancel you can choose to postpone your tour up until the end of that season. If you choose this option your payment will not be redeemable.
There will be no refund for tours voluntarily reduced in length.
There will be no refunds for tours cancelled 7 days or less from booked date.
If you have paid for your tour & you are the only person booked & you do not want to pay the higher rate you will be fully refunded or you can postpone until the end of that season.
Everyone's health is at the forefront of operational concerns for the 2020 backcountry season at SMBC. We have decided to carefully operate our winter programs & continue providing our guests with memorable backcountry experiences.
Thredbo Chairlift Backcountry Access 2020
Ordinarily our tours run from our base at Guthega which has easy access to excellent touring terrain. During early & late season our tours may be redirected to the top of Thredbo which would require a chairlift ride.