October 17, 2018

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Why Backcountry Skiing is Trending

Undoubtedly, from looking at all of the ski and snowboard publications (and we look at a lot) the Backcountry experience is exploding. In mountain towns in the U.S., Canada and Europe, people are using their own initiative to get out for an experience that is different from what the throngs of people in modern ski resorts experience.

 It is really due to this experience that this is happening. The backcountry is an imaginary boundary that unless you are familiar with what is on the other side, only raises curiosity among the general ski population. It is the mixture of apprehension, fear and lack of knowledge that separates those who have not yet overcome these obstacles from those who have and are becoming more knowledgeable, pushing past the apprehension and fear and finding an experience that is unique from what their brethren on the lifts are having.

 The ‘coolness’ of that inner feeling of going where others aren’t or cannot go gives one the inner satisfaction that due to their desire to work to overcome some obstacles they have attained some exclusivity; that special feeling of being one of the few.

 It would be easy to say the common denominator fueling this trend is powder snow. That elusive condition that is so pristine, untouched, and gives the rider that feeling of floating and flying at the same time. People pay thousands of dollars and travel thousands of miles for great heli skiing that provides the same sensation. But not everyone can afford that.

The floating feeling of backcountry powder

The floating feeling of backcountry powder.

 So looking outside the ski area boundaries was bound to happen. Twenty years ago there were a few alpinists who would put climbing skins on their skis and spend 2 to 4 hours hiking up the slope to enjoy some untracked runs. While they usually found great skiing it was something more that kept them going back.

 Freedom. Freedom to go at their own pace; to be free of boundaries and lifts. Freedom to be away from the confines of the ski area scene. Today, advances in rockered skis, modern alpine touring bindings and boots, split board snowboards and the invention of avalanche beacons and the snow science knowledge have given many more the vehicles to experience what is “beyond the ropes.”

 As underground word of this wonderful experience made it’s way through the mountain communities, more avid snow riders decided to see what was so unique about this experience. Ski magazines are now featuring the backcountry and side country gear on their pages as word spreads about a new experience in snow riding.

 The mainstream resort skier or snowboarder is becoming more curious to this trend. How can I see what the backcountry experience is like? A natural question for someone who frequents ski areas and has developed a likeness for the sport.

 I guess that’s when a powder and adventure skiing company like mine says, “that’s where we come in.” I know you are thinking as a backcountry skier, “Oh no! Here come the hoards to ruin my peaceful and pristine backcountry!”

 Well, let’s face it, not everyone is going to hike for their turns. It just isn’t in them so relax. While hike to terrain has become more popular at ski resorts, not everyone is willing to put in the work and that is really what separates them from getting to that next level.

 What American Mountain Holidays does is a couple of things to get people that unique backcountry experience. Sure we sell great heli-skiing adventures in Colorado, Utah, Idaho and especially Canada. We have snowcat skiing in just about every state and province and that’s another great way to get introduced to the backcountry. In each of these cases you have a professional guide to lead you and teach you about the backcountry experience. You are able to rent specialized gear from these guides but most importantly you are under the direction and supervision of a professional guide working with a ‘territory’ they are familiar with and have a thorough knowledge of snow conditions.

The Freedom of the backcountry experience.

 Many of our ski destinations have professional guiding services and this is always the way to be introduced or to experience another destination where you would be unfamiliar with snow conditions, the history of the snow cycles and prevailing winds and sun exposure. If you are an experienced backcountry traveler you know you will either need knowledgeable, trusted friends to guide you or you need a professional guide.

 The guide will be able to assess your skills, (AMH also does this in a preliminary fashion to make sure we recommend and set you up with the right level of experience). Your equipment will be set up, you will be provided training on how to use your safety equipment and the guide will talk to you about backcountry travel. From there he will take you to an area he is knowledgeable on and that he knows will have great powder skiing.

 You will enjoy the hike up. You stay warm, the gear is light and easy to use. The peacefulness of the winter landscape, being a traveler on a pristine mountainside and the run down through the soft powder is an experience like no other. And then there’s that inner coolness that always oozes out when your friends ask, “where did you ski today.”

Warming on the climb to the powder.


 So think it over. Are you willing to put in a little work for a great experience? It seems like a lot of people are doing just that and the word is getting out. Give us a call at AMH and we’ll make sure you have that Peak Experience.

 1-888-541-7325. Ask for George or e mail: director@amtnholidays.com.

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