Extremely Canadian is a company that embodies the spirit of skiing in Whistler. This year, they’re celebrating 30 years of bringing people together to share a love for off-piste skiing and riding. They offer guided backcountry experiences, and resort clinics and camps that take intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders into the lesser-known areas of Whistler Blackcomb. The places that make you realize just how incredible Whistler’s vast terrain is.

Extremely Canadian encourages skills that safely push its participants to explore all of the big mountain skiing the resort has to offer as well as offering incredible guided backcountry experiences

We Rise Women’s Ski/Ride Days

Extremely Canadian’s Rossignol We Rise is an annual series that brings women together to push their boundaries and improve their skills in the mountains. It’s an open and safe environment that welcomes all women and gender non-conforming people. The event offers the choice between a day of inbounds skiing or snowboarding (February 3, 2024) or a day of backcountry ski touring or splitboarding (February 10, 2024). 

Last winter, I joined Extremely Canadian on the We Rise Women’s Backcountry Day, a guided backcountry experience. The morning started in a private lounge at The Westin Resort & Spa, where we drank coffee and picked out some free swag (everyone looked super cool in matching Pit Vipers sunglasses) as we got to know each other and our guides. Some participants got set up with Rossignol touring skis, which can be included for those who don’t have their own touring skis, or just want to test out the latest and greatest.

As well as skis with touring bindings or a splitboard, ski poles, skins and ski touring or snowboard boots, the other equipment needed for a day of guided touring is avalanche safety equipment, which can be rented, and includes a metal avalanche shovel, an avalanche probe and an avalanche transceiver. It’s best to wear a waterproof, breathable outer shell, warm, non-cotton base layers, a mid layer such as a fleece and pack a toque and another warmer layer such as a down jacket. Be sure to pack at least a liter of water, lunch and snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm plus your helmet and goggles.

Our guides gathered us around a map to show us the planned route and discuss the day ahead. Participants’ levels of experience encompassed the full range – some had skied in the backcountry for many years, while others were trying it for the first time. We were split into groups matched with others with similar levels of experience. However, we all spent the day in the same area, regrouping with the larger crew many times, so we were able to switch between groups throughout the day. 

We headed up Blackcomb Mountain, skipping all of the lift lines thanks to Extremely Canadian’s lift line priority. We paused on our way up at Glacier Lodge, pulling out our transceivers for a quick skills refresher before jumping onto Glacier Chair and then the t-bar. 

I always love the feeling of heading from the main slopes to the tranquil backcountry. A lot of people were skinning out of the resort that day but they quickly dispersed once we were out there. All of a sudden it was just us and the backcountry, and the stoke was high. 

One of the many great things about skiing with a professional ski guide is that they know exactly where to find the best snow and we spent the day skiing laps of incredible powder. As we skied our last lap thick fog began to roll in. We transitioned for the final climb and ascended back above the fog to see Black Tusk poking through in the distance against an orange sky. It was spectacular. 

We headed to Black’s Pub for après drinks and snacks as some incredible Rossignol prizes were dished out, including a brand-new pair of skis for one lucky participant!

Kees & Claire Hut: A Guided Backcountry Experience

Extremely Canadian offers a range of custom private and group backcountry ski tours. Another trip I was fortunate to join last winter was an overnight guided backcountry visit to Kees & Claire Hut, located in Whistler Mountain’s backcountry. 

Group of people skiing to a backcountry hut
Kees & Claire Hut is located in Whistler’s backcountry. PHOTO MATTHEW SYLVESTRE

Our day started once again with gathering around a map with our guide to be shown exactly where we were going and discuss plans for the day ahead. We headed up Whistler Mountain this time, skiing carefully while weighed down with backpacks heavier than a regular day pack. 

Fortunately, an overnight trip to Kees & Claire Hut doesn’t require packing much more than the equipment needed for a touring day trip as the hut is decked out with eating and cooking utensils, indoor shoes and even sleeping mats (as of this winter). So we were just laden down with sleeping bags and extra clothes and food to get us through two days on top of all of the gear that we would need for a guided day in the backcountry.

The morning was spent getting ourselves to the hut, a bit of a slog with the heavy bags, but I was amazed at the efficiency of the route choices our guide made along the way. We made it to the hut for lunch, dropped off most of our gear and headed off for more laps, feeling light and free with just the essentials.

There are so many options for great skiing around the hut, and we had a fun afternoon skiing laps of Cowboy Ridge. It was almost dark when we got back and we skinned in with our headlamps. 

Kees & Claire Hut is by far the nicest backcountry hut I have ever stayed in. We entered the large entryway, hung our gear in the dryroom and chose from an assortment of Crocs slippers, which felt great after a long day in ski boots. The large dining room is a great place to hang out with massive windows to enjoy the incredible views. There’s propane heating and cooking, toilets, lights and even USB charging ports. It’s a huge hut, sleeping 38 people in six divided sleeping areas.

We spent the evening eating and chatting with each other, our fellow hut users and the hut custodian, who is there to show people how everything works. We went to bed exhausted from the day and excited about what tomorrow would bring – the plan was to ski Fissile Peak if conditions allowed. 

The next morning, as we prepared and ate breakfast the dining room windows revealed a complete whiteout outside. It eventually became apparent that we would have to revert to a plan B for the morning due to low visibility. We had fun skiing laps of incredible snow below the hut and too soon it was time to skin back up to the hut, have some lunch and pack our bags to head home. Fissile would still be there on my next hut stay. 

A group of people backcountry skiing
Incluskivity is bridging the representation gap in snow sports. PHOTO MIRAE CAMPBELL

Incluskivity: Making Backcountry Experiences More Inclusive

Extremely Canadian is passionate about supporting initiatives that help make backcountry skiing more inclusive. They provide guides for backcountry education courses with Incluskivity (pronounced inclu-SKI-vity), a company that is dedicated to closing the gap of representation in snow sports. 


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Incluskivity runs courses for women and gender-diverse people of colour with an emphasis on skiing and riding in the backcountry, which has a particularly high barrier to entry due to the costs of equipment and education required to enjoy it safely. The courses foster community and belonging while facilitating learning and personal empowerment.

“I am a firm believer of the fact that oftentimes, you can’t exist authentically in a space unless you see yourself represented,” Indra Hayre, founder of Incluskivity tells me. “If I had had this community growing up, where I was surrounded by people who looked, thought and moved through life in a similar way to me, I think I would have felt a lot more at ease. Especially psychologically. On the mountain, I probably would have had more confidence to push myself.”

Incluskivity’s programming removes barriers to entry in the ski industry by fostering representation and building a community and a psychologically safe space for women and gender-diverse people of colour to enjoy winter sports together. By doing so, it’s also contributing to a movement that is redefining the landscape of the ski industry and expanding its future.

Backcountry ski guide
Black Tusk always makes for a nice backdrop. PHOTO MATTHEW SYLVESTRE

Guiding us forward

My own experience with backcountry skiing has certainly reinforced the reality that it is not an easy sport to get into. I have spent many winter seasons slowly acquiring the gear, and the knowledge to use my gear, along with continually practicing techniques for moving through the mountains safely and efficiently. 

I’ve been turned around on ski touring days many times. I’ve fallen in frozen creeks. I’ve sent one of my skis off the mountainside into the foggy abyss. But it’s thanks to a few unpleasant learning experiences, and the patience of those who have been willing to ski with me, that I can say that some of the best days of my life have been on a pair of touring skis. And I wouldn’t have been able to acquire that experience without a lot of privilege.

It’s been an honour to learn with the folks at Extremely Canadian. I do not doubt that they will continue to advance the sport of backcountry skiing, making it more inclusive and welcoming, as they enter their fourth decade, giving people the opportunity to experience the best days of their lives in Whistler’s backcountry. 

If you’ve been on the fence about your own backcountry experience, start with a guided tour. Extremely Canadian has an Intro to Backcountry that will give you a taste, but be warned, spending time in the backcountry can be addictive.

Book your winter trip now to secure up to 25% off lodging and 33% off rentals. Thinking about spring skiing? Receive a $75 après voucher for every third night booked.

Come experience Whistler Blackcomb’s extensive terrain and adventure at every turn to see why we're known as one of the best resorts on the planet. Secure your mountain getaway with Whistler.com for personalized service and the local knowledge of our Whistler-based team. Want to win a winter trip for two to Whistler? Check out our Drop In to Winter contest.


Jessie originally came to Canada from Australia for a bike trip, with a work permit “just in case”. Six years later, having lived in Fernie and Golden, BC, as well as the Yukon, she’s happy to have found herself in Whistler with its great balance of culture and wilderness. She likes spending time exploring on a bike or skis, or with her lazy dog who prefers a gentle stroll.