Powder snow skiing is not fun. It's life, fully lived, life lived in a blaze of reality. What we experience in powder is the original human self, which lies deeply inside each of us, still undamaged in spite of what our culture tries to do to us. Once experienced, this kind of living is recognized as the only way to live - fully aware of the earth and the sky and the gods and you, the mortal, playing among them. -- Dolores LaChapelle
There are few moments in the human experience as magical as experiencing snow-covered mountains on skis. Sliding down a mountain on your feet, whether on skis or snowboard, will always be one of the ultimate joys. But mountains in winter have their own set of hazards as well, from tree-wells to avalanches to simply the cold. The thrill of the skiing itself is often magnified by the careful management of these hazards and they serve to add to, rather than inhibit, the overall experience.
And for me, the pleasures derived from backcountry skiing don't stop there: I love to ski powder, steep terrain, and show my guests to the goods but I also enjoy educating people about the snowpack, its intricate balance of layers, and the formation of avalanches. Avalanche education is still only one form of instruction I can offer. Tour planning, route selection, track-setting, skinning tips and techniques, gear advice, and efficient rescue skills are all components of the Intro to Backcountry training skill set. From the classic ski tours in the Rockies, to the deep powder of Rogers Pass, to multi-day Coast Range traverses, to steep couloir-skiing in the Spring, there is something for everyone. Common ski objectives are:
Whistler/Blackcomb Backcountry: Whether we ride the lifts to access the stunning, glaciated backcountry around Blackcomb or the gentle glades around Whistler, there is something for everyone and every day. Avalanche hazard and weather always play a role in where we can go. Steep chutes to powder-filled bowls to the classic Spearhead Traverse…all the potential at our ski tips!
Duffy Lake Backcountry: The premiere road-accessed backcountry skiing in the Coast, Duffy Lake offers great skiing almost every day of the season. There’s just too many good objectives to list but common descents are on Joffre, Matier, Spetch, Slalok, Tzil and Taylor on one side of the road and Cayoosh, Ottoman, Burnt Ridge, and the Rohr area on the other side.
Squamish Backcountry: The Sea to Sky gondola makes skiing in Squamish an easy option due to this 900m life to meters of snow. The Sky Pilot area and the Stadium Glacier are common goals for backcountry skiers but numerous options exist in glades and chutes as well. Other options for Squamish-based skiing include the Elfin Lakes area and the Callaghan area.
Tantalus Range - Jim Haberl Hut: This heli-accessed hut gives skiing out the door. Being first to receive snow as storms roll in, the Tantalus Range’s snowpack is often 30-40% deeper than Whistler’s. Most guests spend 3-4 nights at the Haberl Hut to maximize the cost of the helicopter but day trips are not uncommon either.
Any trip you wish to book with me will require a phone call or email (contact page here). You can check out my availability on the calendar (here). I am often booked by the week though single-day options often work great as well. Here's a couple of important things to consider:
The rates above assume you will provide your personal ski gear (boots, skis/poles, helmet, avalanche rescue gear, etc). Please let me know if you do not have this equipment and I will try to find the best gear at the best rental price for you.
The rates/ratios above may depend upon your skill and experience in combination with the desired objective; if I feel the combination of these requires it, I will recommend adding another guide to our trip.
Backcountry ski and ski-mountaineering trips are sold by the day. Multi-day or week-long ski trips are generally either lodge/town-based or utilize a series of huts. Based out of Whistler, for example, we could ski a couple days of Blackcomb Backcountry, a day on the Whistler side in the Musical Bumps, and a few days around Duffy Lake. Based out of Squamish, for example, we could ski a day or two around town in preparation for flying into the Tantalus Range. Of course single-day objectives are always an option. Depending on your fitness and experience, some objectives may require more or less time. The mountains always dictate what we can do, my job is to give you the best experience possible for the given weather/conditions. Sometimes weather and/or avalanche hazard forces us to change our objectives but weather cancellations are not possible. Generally speaking, we can always get out and ski something and my focus is to see you both rewarded and satisfied and will do my best to achieve that.