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Spring Backcountry Skiing

Spring Skiing in the Southern Cascades

Our short spring corn mission was just enough to make us want more.

Vermont Backcountry - Photo by Dana Allen Photo, danaallenphoto.com

Working For The Weekend 4: Vermont Backcountry

When storms dump on the Green Mountains, Ben Leoni seeks the goods.

450 miles of singletrack await you just outside the door of Sun Valley’s Coyote yurt. Having the yurt as a base camp, rather than touring between yurts, makes this trip friendly for groups with a variety of skill levels; kids and the less intense bikers can take a day off or cruise the easy trails for a few hours while the fanatics can stay out all day. And with a guide to lead you, every mile can be tailored to your specific ability level and interests. The yurt itself features stunning views of Boulder and Pioneer Mountains, which are best enjoyed while sipping a cold beverage on the sundeck after a grueling day on the trail. -       $230 per person per day (includes guide, yurt rental, food and transport) -       Yurt Capacity: 12 -       See svtrek.com for more info

Singletrack Huts

Hut-to-hut touring is well known in the world of backcountry skiing. But more and more of these mountain refuges are opening their trail systems to mountain bikers in the summer months. So why not trade in your skins for wheels, and deep powder for single track?

There are half a dozen backcountry huts near my Aspen home, so it wasn’t easy convincing 11 friends to drive 100 miles—and ski another eight—to reach a hut near Vail. But, like me, they’re suckers for superlatives.Perched at 11,180 feet, Colorado’s Eiseman hut is the highest of 29 “alpine hostels” in the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association system. It accesses some of the best backcountry skiing in the state, and it boasts the system’s largest sun deck. Ours was an out-and-back mission, but if we’d wanted a longer adventure, we could have skied as far as Leadville, 70 miles from the Eiseman. Unloading the cars at the trailhead, I realized our weekend trek would be neither light nor fast. This crew was into bacon, beer, and whiskey. One brought a BB gun; another, his special pillow. Someone even packed a set of metal horseshoes. No one was to go hungry, sober, or bored.As it turned out, we didn’t do much sunbathing. A late April storm rolled in our first night and delivered midwinter powder to every aspect in sight. We broke into smaller groups during the day—some to lap the shorter but steeper shots to the north, some to ski the glades facing south. A few guys built a kicker and launched over the hut for our viewing pleasure. Someone just read by the roaring fire.Excellent skiing on a hut trip is extra credit. If you’re counting your vertical, you’re missing the point. Evenings are what you’ll remember most. Ours consisted of lively fireside chats and raucous games of Jenga and gin rummy; group cooking incorporated copious cured meats. There wasn’t an iPhone in sight; we talked rather than tweeted. When I retired to my bunk, full, tired, and content, reflecting on this hut tour among the many we’d done before, one word came to mind: superlative.—Tess Weaver

Hut Trip Cheat Sheet

No skier's life list is complete without a hut trip or two. Here's how to do it right.

Backcountry Ski Tips: How to Take Set a Bootpack

Backcountry Ski Tips: How to Set a Proper Bootpack

Setting a bootpack is as simple as hiking up hill with skis on your back, but doing it efficiently can leave you some gas in the tank for another lap.

Backcountry Ski Tips: How to Put on Skis in Steep Terrain

Backcountry Ski Tips: How to Put on Skis in Steep Terrain

Because you don't want to send a ski torpedoing down the slope getting first tracks without you.