The first annual Splore Mountain Tour introduces participants to untouched Utah powder, backcountry skiing, mountaineering, and world-renowned mountain guides, for five days in the Wasatch backcountry, March 17 -21, 2010.

Splore, Utah's non-profit outdoor educational organization for those with disadvantages and disabilities, normally runs summer adventures but because they have a special use permit to guide in the Wasatch year round, they decided to check out winter explorations as well.

The Winter Tour takes place when the snow is at its prime in Big Cottonwood Canyon, famous for extraordinary backcountry skiing and mountaineering, and terrain for all abilities and interests from steep open bowls to fantastic tree skiing in hushed aspen groves. March snowfall rocks. The Wasatch received 12 feet of powder last March. World-famous mountaineers like Jeff Ward serve as guides.

The tour includes five nights lodging at the bunker-style, historic Wasatch Mountain Club Lodge in Big Cottonwood Canyon, five days of professionally guided backcountry skiing, three catered meals daily, airport and ski tour transfers to trails in both BCC and Little Cottonwood Canyon, daily beer and wine, use of avalanche beacon, probe and shovel, guest speakers like Conrad Anker, and book signings. The $1,100 cost is tax deductible.

All proceeds go toward the development of Splore's Adaptive Guide Certification Program, a joint venture between Splore and the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). Money will help individuals with disabilities and special healthcare needs to experience guided outdoor adventures.

Jeff Ward has worked as a full-time mountain guide since 1995. He is one of few Americans to successfully complete all phases of training and certification offered through the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), the U.S. arm of the storied International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA or UIAGM). As an IFMGA guide, he is a leading expert in all climbing disciplines, has led expeditions around the world, including trips to Alaska, France, Switzerland, Italy, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, Tanzania, Canada, Mexico, Nepal and across the Western U.S. Jeff guides helicopter and backcountry skiing in Washington and Canada and ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado, during the winter.

Jeff also teaches aspiring mountain guides the tricks of the trade as a member of the AMGA's Alpine Instructor Pool. These courses are taken by world-class climbers and guides perfecting their skills and working towards full certification. Jeff is also the technical director of International Mountain Guides (IMG), one of the largest guide services in the United States. Pick up a copy of Jeff's newly released  "Get on the Mountain"  while you wait for March to roll around. The first-ever interactive DVD instructional course for mountaineers teaches the necessary skills to get to the top of a mountain.

Olivia Cussen is the third woman in U.S. history to reach IFMGA certification. The first was Cathy Cosley, and the second was Margaret Wheeler. She and her partner John Race are one of the few couples in the world to be working together as IFMGA guides.

The Tour is open to advanced-to-expert skiers. You do not need backcountry experience but you must have skiing skills. The groups will have one guide for every five guests. There are 15 spots available.

More information. Or call 801-484-4128.