Castle Mountain, Alberta, has gained a reputation for its extreme skiing. Those with guts and skills duck out of the controlled resort boundaries through gates accessing the backcountry. The resort is prepping for its annual avalanche programs to educate those heading out of bounds into its famed extreme terrain.

Several 40- to 55-degree slopes tossed in between cliffs mark the peaks surrounding Castle Mountain Resort. Routes such as RoShamBo, Six Shooter, or Saddle Sore lure skiers in to a few-hour ascent in terrain uncontrolled for avalanches.

The resort is planning its Avalanche Awareness Days for Jan. 10-11. These include demonstrations of avalanche beacons, probes, and shovels. You can pick up tips on how to interpret avalanche bulletins and learn how to reduce risk in avalanche terrain.

Avalanche Skills Training seminars will also be scheduled in January and February. The courses consist of a Friday evening classroom session followed by a Saturday and Sunday session on the snow. A maximum of eight students work with one instructor. Emphasis in the courses is placed on good decision-making in the backcountry.

The AST courses cost $200. Participants may purchase a lift ticket for $10. Those interested should contact the Castle Mountain Safety Office at (403) 627-5101 for the schedule.