Spring Training

Outdoor-skill development for the season. 

If you spend time in the backcountry, on the river, or anywhere in the mountains, certain skills are essential, even if you’re only going out with friends and family. While you might not be an outdoor pro, getting trained like one could save a life and will guarantee a less stressful backcountry experience. Here are some courses to consider this spring.

When you’re on the river, it doesn’t take much to go from having fun to fighting for your life. With frigid temps well into summer and constantly changing conditions, taking a course from the pros will better help you understand the risks and react to them when the worst happens. Swiftwater Rescue courses are offered by several different groups around town, including MSU’s outdoor recreation program, Montana Whitewater, and Montana River Guides. If you’ve had some training, but want to take your skills to the next level, check out Montana Whitewater’s Advanced Rescue Course. For seasonal workers, guiding in the summer is a great way to make some money and spend time outside. First, you’ll need Guide School under your belt. If you don’t plan on taking others out, it’s still a great way to learn river-running skills. Brand new to kayaking? Spend some time at the Bozeman Swim Center pool perfecting your roll before heading out to the river.

Wilderness Medicine
Much of the high alpine won’t be snow-fee until June, making spring a perfect time to spend a long weekend getting essential wilderness-medicine training. If you’re planning a longer, more involved summer excursion, do yourself a favor and get your Wilderness First Responder (WFR). AERIE offers two courses this spring, as well as basic CPR courses, which are worth taking again even if you’re already gotten the cert. Techniques change and a refresher is always good. Crossing Latitudes offers Wilderness First Aid courses, the two-day-long baby brother to the nine-day WFR, which is perfect for those of us who recreate within range of professional search-and-rescue teams. If you’re interested in wilderness-medicine training but don’t have a flexible schedule, the pros at The Peak tailor their courses to your time constraints.

Skiing & Snowboarding
While your focus might have shifted away from snow, there should be plenty of it around well into summer. Spring is a great time to work on backcountry travel skills, and there are several opportunities to look into this spring. New this year at Bell Lake Yurt is the Montana Splitboard Basecamp. For three days, splitboarders can demo gear, attend skills workshops, and clinic with some of the most accomplished athletes in the sport. If you’re a backcountry skier interested in taking your skills to the next level, Beartooth Powder Guides offers a four-day ski mountaineering course based from their yurt outside Cooke City.

Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself stranded in the wilderness without the means for escape. If you do, you’ll want to have some skills to help you survive. This spring, check out the PAST Wilderness Survival School. They offer everything from three-day primitive-fishing workshops to six-month residency programs. For kids’ programs and custom classes—including multi-day canoe trips on the Jefferson—check out Hollowtop Outdoor Primitive School.

Whatever your plans this season, make sure to include some time for training. It will allow you to enjoy the mountains even more, and give you the confidence to push yourself further safely.