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MYTH: It’s impossible to get face shots in the East. And if you do get one, you’ll probably chip a tooth. REALITY: There’s plenty of fluff on the Right Coast — you just have to know where to look. Let these guiding services take you to the untracked.
INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN CLIMBING SCHOOL
North Conway, New Hampshire
IMCS has led customized backcountry ski tours in New Hampshire for the past 10 years. Guides focus on Mount Washington and the surrounding peaks in the Presidential Range. They’ll also teach you to build snow anchors and ski on belay. Terrain: One off-the-beaten-path route takes you to a series of low-angle snowfields on Mount Adams before dropping the 45-degree, 1,000-foot Great Gully in King’s Ravine. Next, a few tricky turns through tight boulders lead you into an open hardwood forest. Guides: These folks can ice climb and conquer mountains as well as they can schralp Tucks. They’ll prepare you for an Alaskan expedition, or just show you Mount Washington’s best. ($110 per person per day; groups of four; ime-usa.com)
SUGARBUSH SLIDE BROOK TOURS
Now five years old, this lift-served, resort-run backcountry operation takes you to the 2,000-acre Slide Brook Wilderness between Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen. Trips last two and a half hours, and you’ll likely make two runs. Terrain: From the top of Sugarbush’s North Lynx Triple you’ll make a short traverse to 2,000 vertical feet of thinned glades, rolling knolls, five- to 15-foot drops, and open meadows. Guides: Extreme skiing legend John Egan heads up the program and personally trains all the guides. (sugarbush.com)
BOLTON ADVENTURE CENTER BACKCOUNTRY TOURS
Bolton Valley, Vermont
Prepare to be out until sunset — and get sweaty. You have the option of skinning to Bolton Mountain’s summit, or taking the Vista quad to 3,100 feet. Regardless, telemark or alpine-touring gear is paramount. Terrain: The route follows the Woodward Mountain Trail for nearly eight miles, dropping over 3,000 vertical feet before spitting you out on Little River Road in Waterbury. The rolling trail winds through dense forest and often requires quick hop turns to avoid jacket-snagging trees. Guides: They’re mostly locals, so it’s like touring their backyards. They also have wilderness first responder certifications, just in case. (boltonvalley.com)
Last winter, this outfit began offering lift-served excursions from Stowe or Smugglers’ Notch; two-day treks into the far reaches of the Adirondacks; and ski mountaineering on classic routes in New Hampshire’s Presidential Range. Terrain: Everything from steep, exposed lines in the ‘Dacks to open bowls and chutes on Mount Washington to Mount Mansfield’s tight pine stands. Guides: They guarantee a 4-to-1 client-to-guide ratio, and all guides have wilderness first responder certifications. (petracliffs.com)
JAY PEAK BACKCOUNTRY CLINICS
Jay takes its open-boundary policy one step further by offering backcountry clinics through the ski school. After a few inbounds warmup runs, you’ll head off the trail map.
The Dip — a strip of 35-degree glades — funnels you to Route 242, where a van returns you to the base area.
These are the mountain’s top-ranked instructors. (