2001 Adventure Guide: Backcountry Adventures - Ski Mag

2001 Adventure Guide: Backcountry Adventures

Travel
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
adventureguide.p

Your legs burn with each step. Your lungs expand to maximum capacity. Every part of your body is hot and sweaty except for your fingers and toes, which are so cold you can hardly feel them. You've been meditating on the tips of your skis for the past hour; your mantra is the chorus from Otis Redding's "Chain Gang." You're beginning to wonder why you got out of bed this morning. But then you crest the hill and see your hut in the distance. The trail of smoke wafting from the chimney signals that warmth, comfort, and companionship are only a few short strides away.

This is the essence of backcountry skiing: task and reward. Whether skinning to a hut with 40 pounds on your back, boot-packing up a 50-degree chute, or simply hiking a ridge to get a photo, the task can take many forms. The reward? Entrance into a virtually uninhabited kingdom of snow, where untracked powder, endless vertical, and sweet silence are the norm.

But maybe you're intimidated by the backcountry, viewing it as the exclusive domain of duct-taped ski heroes and free-heeled hippies. You shouldn't be. With the growing availability of Alpine-touring adapters, randonnée equipment, and fat skis, the backcountry has become accessible to anyone with a reasonable amount of skill and the desire to explore. The key, of course, is to do it safely. In this section you'll find courses, camps, and guided trips for just about every level of experience: introductory and avalanche-safety courses for novices; longer, steeper trips for the more advanced; resort-based trips for those who still want to party at night; telemark tours for purists. But we've kept things simple (as backcountry skiing should be): All these trips are self-propelled¿no heli or snowcat operations included.

So get out there¿way, way out there¿this winter. And as you're sitting at the top of a snowy ridge, your body pounded and sweaty, looking out over a bowl of fresh powder you're about to tear into, take pride. You deserve this.

Alaska Off Piste, Girdwood, AK
Do pictures of Alaskan heli-ski adventures and deep Chugach powder haunt you while you slave away behind a desk? If the heli-trip is beyond your budget (as it is for most), you can still get all of that sweet terrain (6,000-10,000 vertical feet worth, in fact) powered by your own two feet. All sorts of privately guided courses run from November to July; $125 per person for two, includes transport and lodging.
Info: 907-441-2249; www.alaskaoffpiste.com

Mountain Pursuits, Fernie, BC
Some of the wildest skiing in North America can be had in interior B.C. These trips start from Fernie resort with a lift pass that allows you to skip the long slog up to the backcountry terrain branching off from the ski area. The outfit's owners have a great outlook, believing that backcountry skiing should be shared with friends. Ergo, they charge a day rate of $165 for the first person and just $40 for each additional bud.
Info: 250-423-6739; www.elkvalley.net/mountainpursuits

Spearhead Mountain Guides, Whistler, BC
Although it already topped out this year's Adventure Guide survey as the number-one ski area in North America, Whistler and the surrounding area offer way more adventure than what's available with a lift ticket. The folks at Spearhead Mountain Guides will take you beyond the ropes and into the spectacular expanse of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Day trips and multiday tours are available for intermediates and above.
Info: 604-905-9033.

All Mountain Ski Pros, Sugar Bowl, CA
Hook up with SKIING contributor and ski guru Eric DesLauriers (in conjunction with Alpine Skills International) for a two-day introductory backcountry course run out of Sugar Bowl. Designed for strong intermediates, the course starts with on-piste training inbounds and moves into SugaBowl's phenomenal backcountry. A four-day course is available, as are programs for more advanced skiers.
Info: 888-754-2201; www.allmountainskipros.com

Alpine High Adventure, Alpine Meadows, CA
Alpine's open-boundary policy means anyone who has the skills can taste the area's sweet back side. But smart skiers always know what they're getting into before heading into unpatrolled terrain. Which is why Alpine's ski school offers six-person guided tours (for $420). The traversing is fairly strenuous, and the pitches are steep. Make sure your group is up for it.
Info: 800-441-4423; skischool@skialpine.com

North American Ski Training Center, Truckee, CA
These guys run everything from one-day introductory courses to multiday ascents of Mount Shasta. If you're a backcountry novice itching for experience, you might want to cash in your 401(k) and take them all. The price for one day is $125; for an overnight backcountry course that goes into crampon use and technical skills, you'll pay $295. The guided trek to hike and ski Mount Shasta will run you $315.
Info: 530-582-4772; www.skinastc.com

Sierra Mountain Center, Bishop, CA
If you love Mammoth's terrain but the San Diego surfer-bra crowd is keeping you away, bypass the resort altogether by hitting the Sierra backcountry. The Sierra Mountain Center runs backcountry trips throughout the winter, from introductory courses to more advanced tours to avalanche training. Trips run well into spring, which around here is legendary for snow, snow, and more snow.
Info: 760-873-8526; www.sierramountaincenter.com

Aspen Adventure Skiing Camps, Aspen, CO
If your view of this mountain is still prejudiced by a few one-piece-clad Hollywood prima donnas, this five-day ski-mountaineering camp will show you just how 'core Ajax and its backcountry really are. The camp, designed for expert skiers in top condition, will teach you what you need to know about winter backcountry travel, from self-rescue to avalanche awareness to ski technique.
Info: 970-429-3222; www.aspensnowmass.com

Babes in the Backcountry, Breckenridge, CO
These highly popular backcountry courses are for women looking to get into the backcountry in a less testosterone-filled climate. Run out of Breckenridge for the past four years, Babes in the Backcountry teaches everything from skiing skills to building snow shelters to rescue and avalanche procedures. They offer two courses: Babes I for novices/intermediates; II for the more experienced.
Info: 970-453-8583; backcountrybabe@yahoo.com

Berthoud Powder Guides, Berthoud, CO
Even while it was closed for a few years, Berthoud got a lot of traffic from college kids skiing off the pass. So you might as well forget the lifts and let a Berthoud guide take you to areas like Current Creek, Pump House Basin, Russell Peak, Hidden Knoll, and the Mines Peak Chutes. Hike-to-ski half-day tours run $60, including a lift ticket; full-day tours are $100 and include lift ticket and lunch.
Info: 800-SKI-BERT, x24; www.berthoudpass.com

Summit Huts Association, Summit County, CO
The Summit Huts system has plans for seven backcountry huts around Summit County, but currently it runs three: Janet's Cabin near Copper, Francie's Cabin near Breckenridge, and the Section House on Boreas Pass. They all make for an easily accessible diversion from the Colorado ski-country circus. Reservations can be made through the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association ($26 per person, per night).
Info: 970-925-5775; www.huts.org

Sunlight Mountain Resort, Glenwood Springs, CO
This little intermediate resort gets a hell of a lot bigger and a hell of a lot more challenging when it drops its ropes. New for this season, Sunlight's Williams Peak Tours (after the mountain you'll ski) are run by experienced backcountry guides and cover safety techniques and rescue procedures. Half-day tours, single-day tours, and two-day workshops ($75, $110, and $190 per person, respectively) are available.
Info: 800-445-7931; www.sunlightmtn.com

Sawtooth Mountain Guides, Sun Valley, ID
If you've had it with pricey lift tickets and movie stars' entourages crowding the slopes, hook up with Sawtooth Mountain Guides (SMG) for a trip through the Sawtooth Hut System and sample the amazing vertical around the Williams Peak yurt. Guided trips are $100 per person for a three-person group, or do it unguided for $30 a head. SMG also offers avalanche-safety classes.
Info: 208-774-3324; www.sawtoothguides.com

Appalachian Mountain Club, Pinkham Notch, NH
The AMC is the keeper of Eastern backcountry, and Pinkham Notch is the epicenter of the East's most extreme terrain, with Tuckerman Ravine and the Gulf of Slides a short slog from AMC's headquarters there. AMC's Backcountry Ski Camp is designed for skiers who feel more comfortable with locked heels. The course runs two days (last year: March 23-25) and includes all equipment except skis; $406.
Info: 603-466-2721; www.outdoors.org

Wing Ridge Ski Tours, Joseph, OR
If the crowds at your local resort have you feeling like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, check out these guided trips in the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon. You'll ski the Eagle Cap Wilderness and sleep in historic cabins that provide cozy shelter as freshies dump from the sky. Trips top out at $495 per person, but you can take off $100 by sharing KP duty. A self-guided option is $30 a person.
Info: 800-646-9050; www.wingski.com

Exum Mountain Guides, Salt Lake City, UT
Imagine all that light, fluffy Utah powder in an untouched bowl the size of Guam just for you and a handful of friends to enjoy. Let Exum be your guide through the legendary Wasatch Mountain backcountry. With introductory, lift-accessed, wilderness, and custom backcountry tours, they can accommodate almost any trip you can think of. Turning skills in variable conditions are a must.
Info: 801-550-EXUM; www.exum.ofutah.com

Utah Interconnect Adventure, Park City, UT
The interconnect is still one of the coolest things to do while visiting Utah resorts. You ski Park City, Solitude, Brighton, Alta, and Snowbird all in one shot-with a few lift rides, traverses, and short hikes in between. You'll probably get to see more of the Wasatch wilderness than Joseph Smith himself. Trips leave from Park City or Snowbird, take about eight hours, and cost around $150 per person.
Info: 801-534-1907; www.skiutah.com

Kroka Expeditions, Putney, VT
In case they ever come out with a winter edition of Survivor, the folks at Kroka Expeditions in southern Vermont offer a crash course in winter preparedness. You'll ski tour over frozen lakes and mostly flat terrain. At camp, you'll cut and split wood, cook over a fire, chop holes through the ice for water, and sleep on fir boughs in a canvas tent. Sound fun? You'll have the million bucks in the bag.
Info: 802-387-5397; www.kroka.com

On the Loose, Mad River Glen, VT
Fifteen minutes from the free-heel heaven of Mad River Glen, On the Loose expeditions offers guided weekend (February 9-11, March 9-11) backcountry tours through Vermont's classic snowy woods. The $225 trip nlight Mountain Resort, Glenwood Springs, CO
This little intermediate resort gets a hell of a lot bigger and a hell of a lot more challenging when it drops its ropes. New for this season, Sunlight's Williams Peak Tours (after the mountain you'll ski) are run by experienced backcountry guides and cover safety techniques and rescue procedures. Half-day tours, single-day tours, and two-day workshops ($75, $110, and $190 per person, respectively) are available.
Info: 800-445-7931; www.sunlightmtn.com

Sawtooth Mountain Guides, Sun Valley, ID
If you've had it with pricey lift tickets and movie stars' entourages crowding the slopes, hook up with Sawtooth Mountain Guides (SMG) for a trip through the Sawtooth Hut System and sample the amazing vertical around the Williams Peak yurt. Guided trips are $100 per person for a three-person group, or do it unguided for $30 a head. SMG also offers avalanche-safety classes.
Info: 208-774-3324; www.sawtoothguides.com

Appalachian Mountain Club, Pinkham Notch, NH
The AMC is the keeper of Eastern backcountry, and Pinkham Notch is the epicenter of the East's most extreme terrain, with Tuckerman Ravine and the Gulf of Slides a short slog from AMC's headquarters there. AMC's Backcountry Ski Camp is designed for skiers who feel more comfortable with locked heels. The course runs two days (last year: March 23-25) and includes all equipment except skis; $406.
Info: 603-466-2721; www.outdoors.org

Wing Ridge Ski Tours, Joseph, OR
If the crowds at your local resort have you feeling like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, check out these guided trips in the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon. You'll ski the Eagle Cap Wilderness and sleep in historic cabins that provide cozy shelter as freshies dump from the sky. Trips top out at $495 per person, but you can take off $100 by sharing KP duty. A self-guided option is $30 a person.
Info: 800-646-9050; www.wingski.com

Exum Mountain Guides, Salt Lake City, UT
Imagine all that light, fluffy Utah powder in an untouched bowl the size of Guam just for you and a handful of friends to enjoy. Let Exum be your guide through the legendary Wasatch Mountain backcountry. With introductory, lift-accessed, wilderness, and custom backcountry tours, they can accommodate almost any trip you can think of. Turning skills in variable conditions are a must.
Info: 801-550-EXUM; www.exum.ofutah.com

Utah Interconnect Adventure, Park City, UT
The interconnect is still one of the coolest things to do while visiting Utah resorts. You ski Park City, Solitude, Brighton, Alta, and Snowbird all in one shot-with a few lift rides, traverses, and short hikes in between. You'll probably get to see more of the Wasatch wilderness than Joseph Smith himself. Trips leave from Park City or Snowbird, take about eight hours, and cost around $150 per person.
Info: 801-534-1907; www.skiutah.com

Kroka Expeditions, Putney, VT
In case they ever come out with a winter edition of Survivor, the folks at Kroka Expeditions in southern Vermont offer a crash course in winter preparedness. You'll ski tour over frozen lakes and mostly flat terrain. At camp, you'll cut and split wood, cook over a fire, chop holes through the ice for water, and sleep on fir boughs in a canvas tent. Sound fun? You'll have the million bucks in the bag.
Info: 802-387-5397; www.kroka.com

On the Loose, Mad River Glen, VT
Fifteen minutes from the free-heel heaven of Mad River Glen, On the Loose expeditions offers guided weekend (February 9-11, March 9-11) backcountry tours through Vermont's classic snowy woods. The $225 trip price includes two nights' lodging inside a cozy yurt, meals, and group equipment. If you're looking to get away from the East and its hardwoods, On the Loose also runs backcountry trips in Wyoming.
Info: 800-688-1481; www.otloose.com

Slide Brook Tours, Sugarbush, VT
"Ski or Ride the Wild Side" is the official name for Sugarbush's tour of the 2,000 acres of off-piste gladed terrain between Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, or Sugarbush and Sugarbush North as you more likely know them. Tours are run by Craig Spear out of the CrisSports pro shop on Lincoln Peak. Experts only for this one-the slope is moderate to steep most of the time, and trees move for no skier.
Info: 802-583-6304; www.sugarbush.com

Jackson Ski and Snowboard Guides, Jackson, WY
With Jackson's new open-boundary policy, there's a plethora of terrain for visitors to explore (as if there wasn't enough already). If you're intrigued but intimidated by all the snow, steeps, and open space, hook up with these guys. They'll deftly (and safely) guide you through Bridger-Teton National Forest. Design your own trip, with suggestions from your guide; $295 for one person, $325 for two to five.
Info: 800-450-0477; www.jacksonhole.comrip price includes two nights' lodging inside a cozy yurt, meals, and group equipment. If you're looking to get away from the East and its hardwoods, On the Loose also runs backcountry trips in Wyoming.
Info: 800-688-1481; www.otloose.com

Slide Brook Tours, Sugarbush, VT
"Ski or Ride the Wild Side" is the official name for Sugarbush's tour of the 2,000 acres of off-piste gladed terrain between Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, or Sugarbush and Sugarbush North as you more likely know them. Tours are run by Craig Spear out of the CrisSports pro shop on Lincoln Peak. Experts only for this one-the slope is moderate to steep most of the time, and trees move for no skier.
Info: 802-583-6304; www.sugarbush.com

Jackson Ski and Snowboard Guides, Jackson, WY
With Jackson's new open-boundary policy, there's a plethora of terrain for visitors to explore (as if there wasn't enough already). If you're intrigued but intimidated by all the snow, steeps, and open space, hook up with these guys. They'll deftly (and safely) guide you through Bridger-Teton National Forest. Design your own trip, with suggestions from your guide; $295 for one person, $325 for two to five.
Info: 800-450-0477; www.jacksonhole.com

Related