Forget the crowds and never ending lift lines of spring break skiing. There’s a new way to enjoy both the sun and snow and have the whole mountain to yourself. Backcountry skiing is it.
Think blue skies, a few key friends, a gregarious and trusted guide, and wide open bowls that are just for you – where you’ll whoop with joy all the way down.
There’s just one catch. You earn your turns. Meaning, you climb the very mountain you ski down. It’s not as hard as you think, doable for every level, and totally worth it. (Unless of course, you take a snowcat or helicopter up as some terrain is inaccessible otherwise). After backcountry skiing, you come back forever changed, craving the silence, unfettered glacier views, endless power turns, and perfect spring corn.
In Europe, backcountry skiing is more a long-held tradition than an extreme sport. What seems like endless trail systems link mountain huts where you bunk for the night and tour over the backs of glaciers. Backcountry skiing certainly weeds out the wimps. Just please keep this in mind: backcountry skiing is no joke. It requires extensive knowledge, experience, and equipment to stay safe and have fun. Which is why you absolutely want to hire a guide.
So, ready for the adventure? Here are three backcountry ski tours that offer you what might just be your best ski trip ever.
1. Ski With Kim
A longtime ski pro (and two-time World Extreme Skiing Champion) you’re in good hands with Kim Reichhelm who is ready to stoke you out on a backcountry ski adventure. Even though she’s a pro skier, you don’t need to be one. Reichhelm has taught thousands of women to own it on the slopes. In fact, it’s her 29th season hosting empowering women’s ski clinics. Heralded by Skiing Magazine as of the Top Influential Skiers of all Time, have all the confidence in the world while she guides you on a backcountry ski adventure in Telluride featuring steep and deep terrain. And (helicopters necessary) backcountry skiing in Alaska or in exotic Greenland. When the North American skiers are mourning open bowl powder turns, Kim heads south to Portillo, Chile.
But it’s not always about the skiing but also how the experience shapes you and gives you a new outlook on life. As one of her guests put it, the trip is “much less fear and way more adventure!”
2. Mono Country with Sierra Mountain Guides
While most skiers are already huge fans of Mammoth Mountain, what they don’t realize is that the surrounding Sierras have seriously amazing backcountry opportunities. Think easy access to soaring peaks, open bowls, and perfect spring corn. The record-breaking snow this season in the Eastern Sierras promises excellent backcountry skiing conditions that could run well into summer. Sierra Mountain Guides offer backcountry skiing adventures from Lone Pine to Yosemite and the Sawtooth Range. Dedicated to “connecting people to the mountains” seasoned local guides customize each trip’s level and length (including multi-day) to your group’s expertise. Brush up on your technical ski skills at their Women’s Backcountry Skills Weekend. And if you aren’t up to skinning up the mountain, High Sierra Snowcat and Yurt, based out of Virginia Lakes, will whisk you up in a snowcat for a magical overnight stay and early morning powders shots.
3. Leave the Boys Behind
Focusing on women’s backcountry skiing adventures, Leave the Boys Behind was the brainchild program of Aspen Alpine Guides where women can have “outrageously fun experiences in the wilderness where the pressure from the boys is left at home.” Designed by women for women, the custom backcountry skiing tours take you through the winter wonderland that is Aspen, Colorado. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced backcountry skier. Aspen Alpine Guides have you covered with just the right level of adventure and most importantly fun.
Ready to try backcountry skiing?
Here are a few tips to make it a truly epic (and safe) adventure.
Get fit! Backcountry skiing requires top condition in high altitude. Start training early. You won’t regret it.
Master your ski technique in all conditions. There are no groomers backcountry and conditions can be variable. Once you go up, there is only one way down.
Don’t skimp on gear. Shovels, peeps, and more. It’s the mountains after all. And you want to be prepared.
Get avalanche training. Guides do their absolute best to predict the safety conditions of the terrain. But nature can be unpredictable and slides do happen.
Get a guide. Backcountry skiing is always safer and more fun with a guide.
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Images via Ski with Kim, Aspen Alpine Guides, Sierra Mountain Guides.