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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What level of skier/boarder do I have to be?
    It is very important that you are realistic about your skill level when joining a group! The snow in the backcountry is not machine prepared you need to have experience skiing/boarding off piste (away from the groomed trails) & be comfortable skiing/boarding a variety of snow conditions & terrain. We require that you are at least a strong intermediate....ideally a level 6 skier/boarder. You don’t need to be an off piste expert but need to be able to maintain control of your skis/board & link turns off piste in all types of snow conditions using your poles to iniate turns. If it is obvious that you are not at the required level you will be dismissed from the group & no refund will be issued. If you are concerned about your groups ability talk to us about organising a private guide or a closed group. Minimum ages are 16 for skiing & splitboarding & 14 for snowshoeing however we can disccauss further if booking as a private or closed group.
  • 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. We recommend that each newcommer to backcountry riding should initially undertake our Backcountry Intro Course unless you have prior experience in the backcountry or have a strong level of fitness & skiing/boarding skills. Backcountry skiing/boarding is an aerobic activity, the terrain we ride is away from the lifts & time spent climbing on skis/board 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. Refer to our TOUR DIFFICULTY TABLE to gauge the tour for you. Our minimum participant age is 16 for sking & splitboarding & 14 for snowshoeing however if booking as a private or a closed group we can discuss further. If you hold a good level of fitness & skiing/boarding 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 riding ability you may struggle on some of our advanced tours regardless of your prior experience. Your BC experience is important but your skiing/boarding 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/board 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.
  • Minimum age limit
    Due to the strength, arduousness, ability requirements & expectations of the group we find that our minimum age is 16yro for skiing & splitboarding & 16yro for snowshoeing. Another limiting factor for skiing is also the shoe size or boot sole length of a ski boot in consideation to minimum sizes to fit touring bindings. If your Boot Sole Length is less than 260mm you will be unable to fit into touring bindings. If booking as a private or closed group we can discuss on a case by case basis.
  • Getting To Us
    Our trips are run out of our base at Guthega Mountain Centre. SMBC can be accessed by vehicle or on skis from Blue Cow Resort, arriving by ski has limitations regarding resort operations. Parking can be extremely limited in the peak season, we suggest that you leave Jindabyne at 6:00am arriving at Guthega at 7:15 for breakfast at BASECAMP Cafe in the GUTHEGA MOUNTAIN CENTRE which opens at 7:30am 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 94.7FM. Allow longer times if necessary. From Jindabyne take Kosciuszko Rd & turn off onto Guthega Rd & follow it 20km to the end. Allow an hour & longer for fresh snow days. From Perisher If arriving by 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: THIS REQUIRES A LIFT PASS! 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 & BASECAMP 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. During late season when the Kosciuszko Rd is open to Charlotte Pass trips may also run from here. Snowshoe Summit trips to Mt Kosciuszko will run from Thredbo.
  • Do I need to be an experienced backcountry skier/boarder?
    Not at all, you need only be an experienced skier/boarder & we will guide you through the backcountry & familiarise you with the equipment. This is where regardless of your experience the BC Intro Course is an excellent stepping stone into an amazing new outdoor pursuit teaching you the fundamentals of safely moving away from the lifted ski areas. This course sets you up for a sequential progression to our more advanced courses This is a great course for individuals or a group or family to achieve & learn new experiences together. If you are conserned about your suitability talk to us about organising private tuition.
  • 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 You can book a trip out for yourself exclusively, for your group or you can join a group. Remeber minimum numbers apply for tour costs. If joining a group it is essential that you are completely honest about your ability as a non refundable situation can occur if you are less than a strong intermediate skier or boarder.
  • 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. If joining a group trip be sure to make a realistic appraisil of your fitness level. Our least demanding trip is the BC Intro Course & a great place to start
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • SMBC Rentals: Alpine Touring & Splitboarding. YES WE DO!
    SMBC have a modern fleet of Alpine Touring skis & Jones Solution Splitboards with Spark R & D bindings for hire. There is allowance for hire on our Online Booking form. We offer a discounted hire rate for our tour participants: - Ski touring skis, skins & adjustable poles; $85 ordinarily $110 - Splitboard, skins & adjustable poles; $110 ordinarily $150 For our 3Pks High Route you will need skis with tech bindings, talk to us about hiring these. We also hire snow shoes, other backcountry & mountaineering equipment & retail backcountry essentials.
  • How much do trips cost?
    See Our Tours & BOOKING ONLINE page to find a price that suits you or your group. Skiing/SplitBoardingDay tours: Moderate & Challenging: Guide to client ratio 1:3-5 $295pp 1:2 $355pp 1:1 $690pp Tough: Guide to Client ratio 1:3 $340pp 1:2 $380pp 1:1 $740 Snowshoeing Half Day 1:3 or more $130pp 1:2 $180pp 1:1 $330 Short Day 1:3 or more $170pp 1:2 $255pp 1:1 $470 Full Day 1:3 or more $230pp 1:2 $330pp 1:1 $620
  • What gear do I need to bring?
    Please see the "SMBC CLASSROOM" page for the detailed equipment lists. Our guides will rationalise your gear omitting any unecessary or inadequate items including your backpack SMBC supply excellent Alpine Touring backpacks for all participants. SMBC hire Alpine Touring skis, Splitboards, climbing skins & adjustable poles See "STORE" page for rentals at SMBC HQ.
  • 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!
  • What sort of food should I bring?
    Simple easy to eat food like bread rolls, snacks, trail mix & energy bars. Have your food pre made as conditions do not suit building your lunch in the backcountry. Make sure you have at least 2 litres of water, this weight will soon be halved & you will be thankfull for bringing it!
  • Do you offer overnight tours?
    Lodge an enquiry about our overnight tours on our CONTACT US page
  • How do I book a trip?
    Go to our Contacts Page & submit queries or fill out a booking on our Online Bookings Page Also call 0400 349 319 Please read Terms & Conditions in the FAQ's
  • Terms & Conditions
    Snowy Mountains Backcountry Terms & Conditions Transparency Disclosure 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. Deposit Full payment & a completed booking form 30 days prior to tour commencement is required from $295pp for BC Intro Tour, Guthega Backcountry, Main Range Tour from $340pp for Western Faces Experience, 3Pks High Route If booking within 14 days of tour date full payment required on bookinig. 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. Cancellations 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. Refunds There will be no refund for tours voluntarily reduced in length. There will be no refunds for bookings cancelled 14 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.
  • Is there any winter parking restrictions in the Kosciuzko National Park
    There is day parking at Guthega, Perisher & Smiggins. Overnight parking from midnight to 6:30a.m. is not allowed! This is an enforcable regulation during the winter ski season. You are advised to arrive by at least 7:30am as there is limited parking at Guthega! During the peak season you will need to be left Jindabyne by 6:30am to achieve this. BASECAMP CAFE is located at Guthega where you can arrive early & enjoy breakfast & coffee. Unlike Perisher, Guthega has allowable overnight parking1.5km prior to the village, you will need a valid vehicle entry ticket for your period of stay. The overnight parking close to the day parking area is authorised only for Guthega lodge staff & guests.
  • 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. Please consider our Terms & Conditions & acquiring insurance in relation to & not limited to; injury, illness, fitness suitabiity, evacuation & travel delays.
  • Thredbo Chairlift Backcountry Access 2023
    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. For snowshoe tours to Mt Kosciuszko we depart from the top of Thredbo which requires chairlft access. A one way backcountry pass for 2023 (a return chair ride ticket) can be purchased from Thredbo for $55 + $5 for a My Thredbo Card totaling $60. This cost is on top of SMBC tour costs & payable by participants on the morning of the tour at Thredbo. This ticket is to be purchased onsite at Thredbo only after the guide has confirmed the go ahead of the tour! We also provide guiding services from Thredbo throughout the season for Ski, Split & Snowshoeing tours.
  • COVID-19/SICKNESS
    If you become unwell through accident or illness including COVID-19 & are unable to attend an SMBC experience any monies paid will be treated as a postponement & subject to price rises. Your tour can be postponed until the end of the current season. Looking forward to taking you beyond boundaries.
  • What do you mean by off trail walking
    This means that the way forward is not on an established track. There may be a basic less formed track that is uneven & overgrown with some steeper sections. At times the way forward might simply follow the terrain features over uneven ground with no sign of a track what so ever. This style of walking requires more concentration but is very rewarding giving the feel of isolation. When off trail walking you will generally see very few people if anyone!
  • How heavy will my multi day pack be
    Your pack on any multi day walk will be up to 15kg. Regardless of the number of days you will have the same gear but the amount of food will vary therefore your pack will become lighter as you go.
  • How fit do I have to be
    For Multi-Day Walks you will be required to carry a pack up to 15kg for distances from 7 to 15km with the longest day at 8hrs. Whilst strength is required to lift your pack aerobic fitness is more important. This fitness can not be achieved in a short period & we recommend you train for at least 8 weeks prior to your walk, 3-4 times per week for at least 40mins per session with a pack. Work on you training so that you have walked at least 12km with a 10kg pack no more than a week out from your walk date. The fitter you are the more you will enjoy the journey !
  • What about toileting
    SMBC follow best environmental practices & all solid waste is packed out. You will be required to purchase a toileting system which is a dry bag system from SMBC. We will brief you on usage both prior to leaving SMBC HQ & infield.
  • What about Food & Cooking
    SMBC will organise your food & you will be briefed on food & meals at the pre trip shakedown. Your guide will carry the stove & organise the cooking, all nights in the field are spent in tents & cooking is field based. You will be required to carry your own food. Food costs are extra & not included in the walk price, we will discuss in more detail prior to your arrival.
  • Can I use my own gear
    SMBC are sponsored by MONT Adventure Equipment & supply quality backpack, tent, sleeping bag & sleeping mat, these items are included in the price. If you want to bring your own gear the guide will have the final word on suitability. If it is deemed as unsuitable you will be required to use our gear.
  • Can I book a private walk
    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 increasing your learning!
  • What do you mean by Alpine
    The alpine is technically the treeless area above the tree line. This unique area affords excellent views but has very little shelter & experiences at times challenging conditions. The wind can be very strong & constant! Most of our walks are in the Alpine Zone. If the wind is too strong we will reroute walks into the Subalpine Zone.
  • Where do we stay on Multi-Day Walks
    SMBC Multi-Day Walks are expedition style walks that are field based, overnighting is in tents. We use quality MONT ADVENTURE EQUIPMENT 1 & 2 man tents. These shelters are extremely light & very easy & quick to put up & down, your guide will brief you on this procedure.
  • Joining a group
    More than destinations reached the quality of the experience & what you take away from it is the best measure of the experience. There is many things that can determine what a group can achieve whithin a period & SMBC walks have been designed & graded to give every real chance of achieving the expectations of our participants. When joining a group it is important to have empathy for all within it. The endurance of the group, weather conditions & 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 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.
  • Where do we meet
    The majority of our walks start at Snowy Mountains Backcountry HQ at the Guthega Mountain Centre. From Jindabyne take the Kosciuszko Rd & turn off onto Guthega Rd & follow it another 20km to the end, we are upstairs on the Middle floor.
  • Is there much up & down hill on the walk
    By design a walking route follows the path of least resistance but our walks are in the mountains so there is some up, down & traversing. There is no climbing or scrambling & we walk at a pace suited to your or the groups endurance with adequate rest stops.
  • What about using Trekking Poles
    Trekking poles are a great aid for distance walks particularly with a heavier pack, we use & recommend them. They aid your balance, stability & help to maintain a correct posture. They also help to maintain a good pace, take stress off your joints and are good for river crossings At first they will feel out of place but you will soon get use to them using them in a fluid motion with your stride. You can use one or two, they are light, collapsible & easy to stow away on your pack.
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