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The Aurora Backcountry Pass. The Powder Punch Card of the Sea to Sky

OUR STORY

A Covid pivot that created a completely new, affordable way of connecting backcountry enthusiasts with an ACMG Ski Guide

In April of 2020 the COVID-19 Pandemic shut the world down which impacted us all in ways we never thought possible.

Aurora Backcountry's original business model was primarily international bucket list trips to areas like Japan, Norway, and New Zealand. With the world completely shut it seemed like we might become another unfortunate statistic; one of the thousands of businesses that would shut down for good.

COVID essentially eliminated our entire market and Aurora Backcountry had to cease international operations. Running a small business is challenging in any climate, but with a company reliant on tourism and travel, the onset of the pandemic felt particularly daunting.

We had to invest our limited resources to pivot and adapt to the new normal in order to survive. Fortunately, an idea, a risky one, would not only save our business but would help stitch back together a community of Guides that had all lost their jobs and income due to other companies just giving up.

The Aurora Backcountry Pass was born. The first ever season pass for the backcountry. A completely new, affordable way of connecting backcountry enthusiasts with a ACMG Ski Guide. The pass streamlines the logistics and economy into a season pass plan.  Additionally, the Aurora Backcountry Pass also acts as a community platform via the app to help connect passholders with guides and other passholders.


Our mission at The Aurora Backcountry Pass is to provide our passholders with the most convenient, affordable, and flexible product that saves time, money, and provides an opportunity to receive mentorship designed for intermediate to advanced tourers.

WANT TO LEARN MORE?
CHECK OUT OUR FAQ BELOW.

  • What is the Aurora Backcountry Pass?
    Great questions. The Aurora Backcountry Pass is like the Mountain Collective Pass or the Epic Pass except instead of gaining access to ski resorts you gain access to certified Ski or Mountain Guides who are all members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) Think of it like a seasons pass to the backcountry! You have the choice to buy a specific plan that suits your schedule. Most people combine the Aurora Backcountry Pass with a midweek resort pass or a 10 day edge card at Whistler Blackcomb. Downloading the APP is vital to getting most out of our program. From the App you can interact with guides, other pass holders and members. Downloading the App is FREE and you can benefit from many features such as the Mountain Conditions, Snow Science, and Emergency Support checklists without having to spend any money. Basecamp is a social forum where you can see what trips are being planned, ask the lead guides a question and then eventually commit to joining a trip. To join the trip simply choose the date that the trip is happening and in the Join a Trip feature of the App. You will get an email with your confirmation along with meeting locations and any other instructions. Canceling can happen up to 24 hours before your trip start without any penalty! Your day automatically gets credited back to you. The full Cancellation Policy is located at the bottom of the home page. Buying a pass also give you benefits with our pass partners. Every year we may add or change a pass partner. The discounts are quite good so make sure you inquire. If you take advantage of all these discounts then your pass essentially becomes free. If you have any other questions feel free to Download the App and hit the Call buttom. You will be directed strait to a Lead Guide or the Guide Manager.
  • Who are your guides?
    Like most guide operations we hire MANY local ACMG Guides. Our main guide crew can be found here. Check them out!
  • Where do the trips go?
    We operate mainly in the Sea to Sky region of British Columbia between Vancouver and Lillooet. We do not mention specific locations because conditions in the backcountry are constantly changing. Your certified guide will determine where your trip will go based on the number of participants, avalanche conditions, and snow quality. This ensures that we go to the absolute best locations. We do our best to keep away from the popular touring locations. We do special trips into the Interior and the Rockies so keep your eye on the Base Camp Forum for these announcments.
  • What dates are your trips?
    Any date between December 1st and April 30th. As long as 3 people sign up the trip will run. Popular days are always the weekends, but with a bit of pre-booking week days can be quite nice especially when the weather lines up. On your app you can see all the guide notifications, and upcoming trips so you know where we are going and whats going on. Make sure you book sooner than later, trips on great weather days can fill fast. You can always cancel your day 24hours or more before with no consequences.
  • What ability do I need to be to join a group or buy a pass?
    If you can ski or snowboard confidently in powder snow down a blue run at the ski hill and easily get down a black diamond, then you can join us in the backcountry. Fitness levels always vary in any group. Guides have a magic ability to help people achieve more than they think. If you are capable of 600m of vertical in a day then you can join the Aurora Backcountry Pass. In your profile, let your guide know what your ability is so they may prepare a day that suits your experience.
  • How do I book my trips?
  • The Expiry date of my pass is wrong!! It says it expires sooner than what it should be!
    Yes. We havent figured out that glitch yet. If you bought your pass any time before November this will be the case. Once November arrives the expiry dates will all be changed to the end of April. Don't worry about it.
  • Can the group request a location for the trip?
    Absolutely! You may request an area anywhere between Squamish and the Duffy Lake area. Ultimately the guide will have the last say because they know where the best snow is based on the days weather. Don't be disapointed if your request gets denied, all Guides have the groups best interest in mind.
  • Can I choose my Guide?
    If you are booking a day through the Aurora Backcountry Pass you will get the guide who is scheduled for that day. A Lead Guide will be assigned to a given week and all other guides will be determined by their availability and teamed up with groups based on group ability and trip complexity. If you want to book a private guide you can check the guide availability here. You may choose your guide based on their availability.
  • The trips are always full when I want to go how can I make sure that I get the days I want?
    BOOK EARLY. One of the advantages of the Aurora Backcountry Pass is the trip cancelation policies. -For any regular scheduled trip you can cancel without any penalty up to 24 hours before Your days are then credited back to your pass. If you want to make sure you ski the days you want... book your trips well in advance, keep an eye on the conditions using the Mountain Condition section in the App, you have until 24hours before the trip start to commit to your day.
  • What happens if I do not use up all my days?
    We sure hope you use them all. If you bought an 8 day Recreationalist Pass and do not manage to use them within the available 151 days there is not much we can do for you. There was plenty of time for you to use them. If you go 1 day in December, 2 days in January, 2 days in February, 2 days in March, and 1 day in April thats 8 days. There will be days that do not run due to lack of participants, these days usually coincide with bad weather or very dangerous avalanche conditions. We encourage people to keep informed of the conditions in our Mountain Condition section on the App. We also encourage people to be active in the forum. This is a place where you can ask questions and even plan trips with like minded people. If you are not proactive and expect everything to just happen for you there is a good change you may not get in all your days. Please be proactive, we want you to use all your days. It is up to you to take full advantage of the Aurora Backcountry Pass program and get the maximum value from it.
  • What if the weather is too poor to ski?
    Our Guides are experts in planning our days and choosing great locations to ski even if the weather is poor. However, if the weather or conditions are too dangerous to operate, we will cancel the day. If any of our guides cancel the day, your day will be credited back to your pass automatically. If you bought a day pass and you were only planning to join that particular day, you will receive a full $240 refund. THIS ONLY APPLIES TO PEOPLE WHO PURCHASED THE $240 DAYS PASS.
  • My day was cancelled and I was really looking forward to going out that day. I feel disrespected as a customer and I want compensation of some sort!
    This scenario only happened once but it did highlight the need to better explain the pass program. Please read the Pass Terms and Conditions carefully. The whole purpose of this pass program is to bring people together and play in the backcountry safely and responsibly. Our Guides have the absolute authority to cancel or change a day for any reason. All our Lead Guides are ACMG Certified and have over 10 years of experience managing risk in the mountains. You are paying your guide to make the hard decision to say NO. We do not operate beyond certain risk tolerance and while safety should always be group discussion, our Guides will always have the last word on any safety decision. This program does not operate the same as hiring a guide privately. If you wish to have more of a say in how your personal risk tolerance is managed, we suggest paying for a Private Guide. Our rates for custom private guiding are 850$ per day and you can bring up to 6 people. This brings the per person rate to 141$ plus GST. It's definitely cheaper than buying a day pass but then you need to organise your group of 6 and the cancelation policy is 48 hours instead of 15 hours. Please contact us directly for more details.
  • What is your booking policy?
    We have the best booking policy anywhere. Most guide operations have a 48 hour or more cancellation policy. This means that you are locked into your dates no matter what the weather is like. The Aurora Backcountry Pass is the most dynamic booking system of any guide operation. You can book and cancel consequence free up to the day before; Booking up to 20 hours and Cancellations up to 24 hours before the start time. WE NEED TO BE STRICT ABOUT OUR BOOKING POLICY. If you show up late or do not show for ANY REASON you will have forfeit your day. This ensures that the trip will run and that our guides get paid and other passholders do not lose out on a day if someone does not show. This program is very fair and you might be on the benefiting end of this booking policy one day. Please respect this policy of you happen to be on the negative end of it.
  • Do I need to sign a Waiver?
    Yes you do. All passholders need to fill out a Participation agreement and sign a waiver before the book a trip. You can view both here: Participation agreement Liability Waiver
  • Can I transfer my unused days to my friend?
    NO
  • Can I share a pass with my ..........
    NO
  • Are your trips safe? I don't ever want to be at risk in the mountains can you gaurentee that I will be safe?
    As much as we would like to say that our trips are 100% safe we cannot. Nobody can guarantee safety, and attempting to do so would strip the experience of the very elements that make it engaging and worthwhile. There is NO adventure without risk. There is nothing reckless about being exposed to risk. In order to become good a managing risk you must be exposed to it. True and quality risk management starts well before the actual action of risk mitigation occurs. See below our process: 1. Knowledge of hazards 2. Hazard recognition 3. True consequence knowledge 4. True Knowledge of one's self, and how one behaves when exposed to risk. 5. Knowledge of the accuracy, of the probability, of the consequence to self and group. (mind blown...) 6. True and Accurate Risk Assessment (what is the actual risk) 7.Risk Mitigation (how do we reduce the risk) a) Aurora Backcountry's company risk acceptance (safety policies etc etc) b) Guide team risk acceptance (daily guides meeting) c) Field Risk Management (Guide decisions in the field) 8.Review and debrief (evening guides meeting) You have touched on one of the core values of Aurora Backcountry. We are more than happy to discuss our risk philosophy on the up-track because most people will not fully understand the process described above. Pass holders are encouraged to ask questions and call to attention anything they perceive as unsafe (no matter who it involves).
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