Backcountry ski touring in Idaho’s wilderness offers a soul-nurturing experience in Mother Nature that is very different than charging down resort runs. It demands the skills, patience and grit of authentic adventure.


Our unique 8-week ZEN MASTERS Winter Backcountry Program introduces students to backcountry skiing as a skills-based anchor for exploring the concept of “Beginner’s Mind” – an approach to life that lessens the limitations of ego. While learning the skills needed to become proficient and safe backcountry skiers, ZEN MASTERS immerses students in a special curriculum designed to support a growth mindset and provide tools for embracing personal change.

Students learn about selecting and packing gear, practice the basics of backcountry travel, use digital navigation tools (using their smart phone), develop rescue skills, and participate in one overnight expedition to experience winter snow camping/sheltering and introduce emergency survival skills.

ZEN MASTER founder Gerry Moffatt, along with other highly experienced instructors from our outfitter, Sun Valley Guides, will lead and instruct every day. By the end of the course, most ZEN MASTERS will be proficient and comfortable enough to enjoy ski touring in non-complex avalanche terrain and know how to safely participate as a responsible member of a backcountry team.  A whole new horizon of winter skiing in Mother Nature’s rugged landscape awaits!

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ZEN MASTERS™ Winter Backcountry Program

One (1) full day per week of instructional backcountry ski touring (including one overnight snow camping expedition): 8 total ski days over 8 weeks


One (1) evening classroom lecture per week (potentially via Zoom due to COVID-19): 8 total lectures over 8 weeks


One (1) session per week of Zen Masters Introduction to Guided Meditation: 8 total Guided Meditations over 8 weeks


One (1) 3-hour Thunder Dragon Workshop: Essential Tools for Managing Personal Resilience


The Program’s curriculum covers:

  • Proper gear and equipment selection, use and care
  • Ski touring techniques
  • Introduction to assessing terrain and hazards for safe travel
  • Introduction to understanding snowpack conditions
  • What to pack and why
  • Introduction to technology for planning a safe backcountry tour o Using Sawtooth Avalanche Center’s online avalanche hazard rating website o Using a digital mapping app (GAIA) for route planning & navigation 
  • ZEN MASTERS reading/viewing list (required for in-class discussions)


Jan 6th 2021 - Feb 26th 2021

Applications are considered on a rolling admissions basis from October 1, 2020 until maximum enrollment is reached or January 4th, 2021.  Space is extremely limited, early applications are strongly encouraged to avoid disappointment.

*Thunder Dragon proudly partners with Sun Valley Guides as our exclusive outfitter to guide the 8 days of backcountry skiing in our Zen Masters Winter Program, unlocking SVG’s world-class skiing experience and permitted touring in the Pioneers, Smokies, White Clouds, Boulders and Sawtooth mountain ranges.

“Having endured the discomfort and physical effort, the mental and emotional highs and lows required to make the transformation from beginner to competent backcountry skier is only the beginning – the mountains have far more to teach us than we have time available in this lifetime.”

– ZEN MASTERS Founder, Gerry Moffatt

Apply for the Zen Masters Winter Backcountry Program

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