Splitboard touring in the backcountry

Splitboard touring in the backcountryDo you love to ski or snow­board, but can’t stand the crowds and high prices of a ski resort? Have you heard peo­ple rave about the amaz­ing trips they have done in the back­coun­try? Do you enjoy explor­ing out in nature? Are you a fiend for fresh powder?

Chances are you said yes to at least one of these. If so, and you have nev­er tried back­coun­try ski­ing (AKA “ski tour­ing”) or snow­board­ing (AKA “split­board­ing”) then you are miss­ing out on a whole world of oppor­tu­ni­ty that will blow open your idea of where you can go in the winter.

It’s Eas­i­er Than You Think
It’s sur­pris­ing how many peo­ple think that you can only trav­el down­hill on your skis or board. But with the lat­est equip­ment inno­va­tions we are able to climb uphill. For ski­ing you need spe­cial tour­ing bind­ings that unlock the heel. Snow­board­ing is a bit more tech­ni­cal in that you need a split­board that can split in half and spe­cial split­board bind­ings that also unlock the heel. Both setups then require “skins” that stick to the bot­tom allow­ing the ski/board to grip the snow, allow­ing you to trav­el uphill. Sounds kind of com­plex in writ­ing, but it’s actu­al­ly pret­ty easy to get the hang of.

More Ter­rain Than You’ll Know What To Do With
The back­coun­try pro­vides vir­tu­al­ly lim­it­less options. When you are at the peak of your favorite ski resort, odds are you are in the thick of a big range with oth­er peaks around. Why just stop at one moun­tain that every­one else is on? Back­coun­try ski­ing or snow­board­ing allows you to explore every­thing around you, giv­ing a life­time of explo­ration near and far.

Unlim­it­ed Powder
The feel­ing of ski­ing or rid­ing through pow­der is as close to fly­ing as I’ve ever found. Ski resorts, espe­cial­ly in this day and age, usu­al­ly get tracked out so fast that pow­der days can some­times be stress­ful as you rush to get to the snow before every­one else. This isn’t the case in the back­coun­try where there is plen­ty of room for every­one. Of course this is con­di­tion depen­dent and a bad snow year won’t help the case. But even dur­ing an aver­age win­ter you can usu­al­ly find fresh snow a long time after the lat­est storm.

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Risk Man­age­ment Skills
The Back­coun­try is true wild nature. As such there are many haz­ards out there that must be treat­ed with respect and care.

Only with prop­er gear and knowl­edge should you take a trip with­out a qual­i­fied guide or some­one more experienced.

But the learn­ing process is part of the fun, and it’s a life­long pur­suit. So don’t be intim­i­dat­ed by a lack of knowl­edge, there are many guides and schools out there ready to show you the ropes.

Silence and Solitude
Get­ting out into the back­coun­try you real­ly begin to feel small. With­out so many peo­ple around, you get a new per­spec­tive of nature that does­n’t hap­pen around on the ski hill. It takes time to slow down, and the back­coun­try serves as an ide­al venue to get away from it all.

Amaz­ing Endurance
Back­coun­try ski­ing or snow­board­ing can be tough work. The climb up can some­times take hours of phys­i­cal exer­tion to get to the top. When just start­ing out it can feel over­whelm­ing until you get into shape. But then some­thing happens—your body adapts and you begin to crave those moments on the uphill when your whole body is work­ing as a sin­gle unit. Your heart and lungs are active and so are your mus­cles. When you reach the top, your brain is charged with endor­phins and dopamine—not just from the climb, but from the sat­is­fac­tion that you reached the sum­mit under your own pow­er. It’s a feel­ing of accom­plish­ment that sim­ply can’t hap­pen using mechan­i­cal means.

So get out and try this amaz­ing life­long pur­suit. You don’t have any­thing to lose and every­thing to gain: good health, deep pow­der, and a renewed con­nec­tion to our nat­ur­al world. Just remem­ber, don’t head into the back­coun­try with­out pri­or knowl­edge, a guide, or an expe­ri­enced compadre.

©istockphoto/ultramarinfoto

Tired of expen­sive tick­ets and long lift lines? Check out these clas­sic back­coun­try adventures.

Berthoud Pass, ColoradoBerthoud Pass, Colorado
When you’re tired of the crowds at the Col­orado resorts, find snowy soli­tude just 70 miles west of Den­ver. Berthoud Pass, with 1,000 acres of diverse ter­rain, is a back­coun­try skier’s dream—and the area’s best-known back­coun­try tour is a five-mile, all-day tour from the Sec­ond Creek Drainage to Win­ter Park Resort. Be pre­pared for altitude—the area’s base is at 11,300 ft—and brush up on your avalanche skills and/or ski with an expert, because the snow­pack is noto­ri­ous­ly unstable.

Sawtooth MountainsSaw­tooth Moun­tains, Idaho
For an off-the-grid adven­ture, Idaho’s the place to go. With back­coun­try ter­rain that ranged from gen­tle rollers to near-ver­ti­cal couloirs, the Saw­tooths are the per­fect des­ti­na­tion for skiers and split­board­ers to incre­men­tal­ly build their tour­ing skills. The clas­sic route: a three-day adven­ture from the Red­fish Lake gate to the Bench Lakes Hut, which includes a 1,500 ft descent down an angled couloir on the 10,299 ft Mount Heyburn.

Stevens Pass, WAStevens Pass, Washington
Just two hours from Seat­tle, High­way 2 winds into the Cas­cade Moun­tains, bisect­ing one of the country’s biggest back­coun­try play­grounds. Start by get­ting a feel for the snow at Stevens Pass Resort, then point your ski tips into the moun­tains. “You can lit­er­al­ly dri­ve the high­way look­ing for fun lines,” says one local guide. “Pick a pull-off, stretch on your skins, and go. It’s choose-your-own-adven­ture out here.”

Purcell Mountain Range , British ColumbiaBoul­der Hut, British Columbia
The Pur­cell moun­tain range isn’t well known, but only because locals work hard to pro­tect their secret: inte­ri­or British Colum­bia boasts some of the best pow­der in North Amer­i­ca. And the 6,500-ft Boul­der Hut—which is heli­copter-access only and sleeps up to 12 people—is the per­fect jump­ing-off point for explor­ing the area on skis or a split­board. Nes­tled between Mount Hig­gins and Mount Levesque, the area offers diverse tour­ing options. You’ll find tree ski­ing, bliss­ful glades, tech­ni­cal moun­taineer­ing objec­tives, and—in most years— con­sis­tent­ly fluffy pow.

Teton RangeCom­mis­sary Ridge, Wyoming
No West Coast back­coun­try round-up would be com­plete with a shout-out to the moun­tains of Wyoming, which offer down­right ridicu­lous lines. The oppor­tu­ni­ties for explo­ration end­less: there’s cham­pagne pow­der for days, the jagged, breath­tak­ing beau­ty of the Tetons, and nobody will judge you if you ski in a cow­boy hat. Look­ing for a place to start? Check out Teton Back­coun­try Guides, who have been oper­at­ing yurts in the Tetons since 1986.

When­ev­er you ven­ture into the backcountry—especially in avalanche terrain—make sure you have the gear, edu­ca­tion, and skills to trav­el safe­ly. When in doubt, seek qual­i­fied instruc­tion: take an avalanche course (or two!), hire a guide, or find expe­ri­enced partners.

Lindsey Jacobellis

Ver­mont-native Lind­sey Jaco­bel­lis is a slope mas­ter. She won gold at the X Games ten times and has been crowned World Champ Snow­board Cross five times. She’s also 2018 Win­ter Olympics bound.

Jaco­bel­lis has been snow­board­ing since she was a teenag­er and says snow has always been a part of who she is. We talked to Jaco­bel­lis to find out more about her start and what’s in store for the future.

THE CLYMB: Were you always active as a kid?

Lind­sey Jaco­bel­lis: Yes, my par­ents always put me into sports and I was always play­ing out­side with my broth­er. Every sea­son my broth­er and I would be involved in a sport that ranged from swim­ming, softball/baseball, lacrosse, field hock­ey, ski­ing, snow­board­ing, and skate­board­ing. There was nev­er a dull moment for my mom, she was our num­ber one fan, and was there with her cowbell.

THE CLYMB: Did you enjoy win­ter sports back then too or did you pre­fer some­thing else?

Lind­sey Jaco­bel­lis: Grow­ing up on the East Coast, win­ter was a part of the nor­mal cycle and my broth­er and I looked for­ward to win­ter activ­i­ties, such as sled­ding, ski­ing, mak­ing snow­men and hope­ful­ly hav­ing school called off for the day.

THE CLYMB: When did you start focus­ing on snow­board­ing as a pro­fes­sion­al pursuit?

Lind­sey Jaco­bel­lis: I first start­ed with local events, and those qual­i­fied me for nation­als, where I con­tin­ued par­tic­i­pat­ing in big­ger and big­ger events more con­sis­tent­ly. After being nation­al­ly ranked I want­ed the next step and start­ed my world cup career as well as the Grand Prix cir­cuit. The moment I real­ized my sport was going to be in the next Olympics was in 2002, the year I grad­u­at­ed high school. I now had a goal in mind and a sol­id sup­port sys­tem of friends and fam­i­ly to help guide me in my next few years lead­ing into 2006.

Lindsey Jacobellis

THE CLYMB: Was it some­thing that felt nat­ur­al or did you go into it after try­ing some­thing else?

Lind­sey Jaco­bel­lis: This was a nat­ur­al tran­si­tion for me. I did not take the nor­mal path after high school and pro­ceed direct­ly to col­lege, but I want­ed to explore this option since it was so unique. I was curi­ous to see how far it could take me…and 15 years lat­er, I am still at it!

THE CLYMB: A lot of peo­ple think of snow­board­ing as a fun sport, but there’s a lot of train­ing that goes into it. What’s your train­ing rou­tine like and how many hours do you spend practicing?

Lind­sey Jaco­bel­lis: I train year round for my sport. Most peo­ple think that snow­board­ers are lazy and chill and don’t real­ly train that hard, but I assure you my train­ing reg­i­ments are very chal­leng­ing and can push me to reach goals that I have nev­er though pos­si­ble with­in myself. I usu­al­ly train about 2–3 hours a day, and that doesn’t even count the oth­er activ­i­ties I do for fun (and they also trans­late as a car­dio work­out). In the spring and sum­mer my work­outs focus more on aer­o­bic and mus­cle endurance, this helps me build a great foun­da­tion for what is to come in the months that fol­low. Lat­er in the sum­mer and fall, it is all about build­ing mus­cle mass and strength. I need to put on weight that my sport needs to help me go fast as well as pro­tect myself from injury (in case I crash or get tan­gled with anoth­er rid­er). Then, in the fall, all of the mass and strength I have acquired is made into POWER. That is learn­ing how to move the strength and mass I have gained in the fastest way that is spe­cif­ic to my sport.

THE CLYMB: You’ve won the snow­board cross title at the X Games ten times. Can you tell us about your expe­ri­ence at the games?

Lind­sey Jaco­bel­lis: X‑Games has always made it about the ath­letes, and that is not what we run into all the time when we are on tour, so it is a very spe­cial event. Ath­letes get to work and com­mu­ni­cate with course builders and have a say. They have been able to show­case our event over the years with wild fea­tures and huge jumps to keep the crowd enter­tained and want­i­ng more.

Lindsey Jacobellis

THE CLYMB: Have things changed for the sport in the last few years?

Lind­sey Jaco­bel­lis: I start­ed com­pet­ing at X when I was 15 years old. It seems like a life­time ago. I look back and see how the sport has devel­oped and that I had a chance to grow with the sport, and that is very spe­cial to me. The cours­es con­tin­ue to get big­ger and faster every year…. and I look for­ward to the next one.

THE CLYMB: Are injuries a com­mon issue with pro­fes­sion­al snow­board­ers? It seems we hear fre­quent­ly about injuries in skiers but not as much about injuries con­nect­ed to snowboarding.

Lind­sey Jaco­bel­lis: Injuries are in every sport, espe­cial­ly when you are at the top lev­el. Ath­letes will con­tin­ue to push the lim­its with­in the sport and them­selves and that is just the nature of a competitor.I have had my fill of injuries, some that have kept me out for a sea­son or more.

THE CLYMB: Any oth­er sports you enjoy besides snowboarding?

Lind­sey Jaco­bel­lis: I love to surf any chance I get. It is a great way to still get a work­out but have fun and be in the sun. The feel­ing is very sim­i­lar to snow­board­ing in pow­der and it trans­lates over very well from snowboarding.

THE CLYMB: You’re head­ing to the 2018 Win­ter Olympics to com­pete. How are you prepar­ing for it?

Lind­sey Jaco­bel­lis: Well, noth­ing is offi­cial yet. We will have qual­i­fiers start­ing in Sep­tem­ber down in Argenti­na. That ear­ly in the sea­son we have to go to the south­ern hemi­sphere to train and find snow and that will be the first step. My team will con­tin­ue to com­pete on the World Cup tour to get results that can qual­i­fy for the Olympics. It is a non-stop hunt and you have to give it your all every time.

2017 Toyota U.S. Grand Prix - Snowboardcross at Solitude Resort Photo: U.S. Snowboarding
2017 Toy­ota U.S. Grand Prix — Snow­board­cross at Soli­tude Resort
Pho­to: U.S. Snowboarding

©istockphoto/MilosStankovicSki sea­son is in full swing—which means the moun­tain pass­es are get­ting flood­ed with snow­board­ers and skiers alike. Whether you’re a first-time tuber or an ultra-expe­ri­enced back­coun­try shred­der, make it a habit to keep these six things in your car every time you head for the hills.

Emer­gency Con­tact Information 
It’s not enough to just have the impor­tant con­tact num­bers stored on your phone—they should be writ­ten down on paper, too. Make a list of your emer­gency con­tact infor­ma­tion, your AAA num­ber (if you have it), any rel­e­vant med­ical issues or aller­gies, and your insur­ance details, then seal it in an enve­lope. Label the enve­lope clear­ly, then keep it in your glove box in a Ziplock bag.

A Source of Light
This could be a head­lamp, a lantern, or a flashlight—just make sure to pack at least one extra set of bat­ter­ies. (“I hate being able to see so clear­ly,” said no one ever.) Dur­ing the dark­er win­ter months, con­sid­er stash­ing a des­ig­nat­ed head­lamp in your glove box with a cou­ple of extra sets of AAA’s. (And remem­ber: any time you’re head­ing into the back­coun­try, it’s worth bring­ing a light source, no mat­ter what time you’re plan­ning to return.)

A First Aid Kit
Just do it. Make sure you include the nor­mal sup­plies (Band-Aids, over-the-counter med­ica­tions, ath­let­ic tape, Steri-strips, etc) in case of the nor­mal bumps and bruis­es, and per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment (latex gloves, a sur­gi­cal mask, and a face shield for CPR) in case you’re the first respon­der after some­body else goes off the road in icy con­di­tions. If any­body in the car has med­ical con­di­tions that require spe­cial tools or med­ica­tions to man­age, car­ry a back­up sup­ply. Be sure to stock up on hand warm­ers for chilled extrem­i­ties, blis­ter sup­plies for skiers who might be break­ing in new boots, and a space blanket.

Warm Lay­ers
At the end of the day, it doesn’t mat­ter whether you car­ry an extra blan­ket, a spare sleep­ing bag, or just a cou­ple of lay­ers of cloth­ing and jackets—just make sure you’ve got enough insu­la­tion to keep every­body in the car warm in case of an expect­ed night on the side of the road. When you’re cal­cu­lat­ing what to pack, con­sid­er the num­ber of peo­ple (and pets) in the car, the aver­age day and night­time tem­per­a­tures in and around your des­ti­na­tion, and what kinds of insu­lat­ing lay­ers your pas­sen­gers will already have with them. It might sound like overkill, but there’s no cost to toss­ing an extra lay­er or two into the trunk—and if those lay­ers could be the dif­fer­ence between an incon­ve­nience and an emergency.

A Shov­el
While you might not want to lug around a full-sized snow shov­el, there are lots of portable options that fit nice­ly in the trunk of a car. Look for a mod­el with a tele­scop­ing or extend­able han­dle, which gives bet­ter lever­age if you need to dig out your ride.

A Long-Han­dled Ice Scraper
Because when you get back to your car at the end of a day on the slopes, scrap­ing the ice off your wind­shield with your Cost­co card isn’t that awesome.

©istockphoto/simonkrFrom Jack­son Hole to Whistler, it’s dump­ing snow. The Rock­ies are receiv­ing unprece­dent­ed amounts of snow­fall much to the glee of skiers and board­ers. What bet­ter time to test your lim­its and chal­lenge your abil­i­ties in new and excit­ing ways? Here are some ideas if this sea­son is all about going hard­er and hav­ing more fun.

Make it the “Sea­son of Many Mountains”
Per­haps you only make it to one or two of the same moun­tains each sea­son and you’re inter­est­ed in see­ing more. While financ­ing a mul­ti-moun­tain adven­ture can be pricey, plan­ning can ensure that you ski many moun­tains with­out break­ing your bank. Check for deals online, crash on couch­es, and chase pow­der for a sea­son. Some moun­tains to con­sid­er include Pur­ga­to­ry Resort in Duran­go, Col­orado Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming, and White­fish Moun­tain Resort in White­fish, Montana.

Hone Your Avalanche Skills
The record snow­fall in areas means that avalanch­es are a con­cern both in and out-of-bounds. Even if you are an avid back­coun­try ski­er with tons of avalanche knowl­edge, it nev­er hurts to sharp­en your skills. Attend an avalanche clin­ic, test your bea­cons, and be extra alert when ski­ing steep and deep ter­rain. The more knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence you acquire, the hard­er you can safe­ly push your­self on snow. For lady shred­ders, be sure to check out local­ly host­ed She­Jumps avid clin­ics for some excel­lent train­ing with an all-girls group.

Skip the Lift
There are sev­er­al resorts that allow for uphill trav­el if you want the safe­ty of inbound ski­ing but the car­dio­vas­cu­lar chal­lenge that uphill presents. If you’re look­ing for a great lit­tle hole-in-the-wall moun­tain, Eldo­ra Moun­tain Resort in Col­orado just recent­ly opened uphill access this sea­son, so check their web­site for the details. After all, some­times there’s noth­ing bet­ter than skin­ning to the top of some­thing and blast­ing down.

Put Away the Tech­nol­o­gy and Just Ski
In the age of GoPro edits, minute-to-minute Insta­gram updates, and self­ie-sticks, it can be tempt­ing to con­stant­ly doc­u­ment your adven­tures. While shar­ing your love of win­ter with the world is a per­son­al choice, it can often be a chal­lenge to leave the cell­phone in your pock­et and just soak up the resort or back­coun­try cam­era free.

Unless you’re Jim­my Chin, who should nev­er be with­out a cam­era because his pho­tographs are pure mag­ic, con­sid­er leav­ing the devices at home for the day, the entire week, or even your whole trip. Make some mem­o­ries that are sole­ly for you and the peo­ple you’re shar­ing them with. Find oth­er ways to doc­u­ment your adven­tures, such as writ­ing them down in a jour­nal or paint­ing your favorite line of the sea­son from memory.

More impor­tant­ly, val­ue the expe­ri­ence and fun of ski­ing over the num­bers. Instead of track­ing how much ver­ti­cal you got, keep track of the laughs you had on the moun­tain. Take a break from rip­ping to check out a cool ski-in moun­tain bar like the one at Cop­per Moun­tain Resort just below the Amer­i­can Fly­er lift; it’s about the size of a train car, serves pip­ing hot waf­fles, with walls lit­er­al­ly cov­ered in dol­lar bills (tips from patrons). You can’t find gems like that unless you stop to smell the roses…or waf­fles, in this case.

One of the biggest chal­lenges of our age is to slow down, look around, and breathe. Per­haps this is just the chal­lenge you’re look­ing for this season.

©istockphoto/VisualCommunications

©istockphoto/VisualCommunicationsTear­ing an ACL is an avid ski­er or snow­board­er’s worst night­mare (falling square­ly behind “get­ting caught in an avalanche”), but it isn’t the end of the world. If you elect­ed to forego surgery, you have a unique but doable chal­lenge ahead of you for the the season.

What’s the dif­fer­ence between some­one who chose to have surgery vs. some­one who didn’t? Well, the answer depends upon the per­son and this arti­cle isn’t here to tell you that you should­n’t get surgery. Research does shows that a per­son if per­fect­ly capa­ble of ski­ing with a par­tial­ly (or even ful­ly torn ACL) how­ev­er, there are a vari­ety a fac­tors that deter­mine just how painful ski­ing will be for you and if your knee with remain sta­ble and if this is even a good idea.

The good thing about the sta­bil­i­ty fac­tor, as you prob­a­bly know from your exten­sive phys­i­cal ther­a­py, is that you can strength­en the mus­cles around your knee thus, giv­ing your knee greater sta­bil­i­ty over­all. Can it still go out? Absolute­ly. But cul­ti­vat­ing sta­bil­i­ty and strength are your best weapons against knee pain, swelling, and col­lapse. Here’s how to do it.

Hike, Bike, Squat, and Yoga
With the sea­son ramp­ing up, chances are you’ve been work­ing out in prepa­ra­tion. A few of the best exer­cis­es for build­ing knee strength and sta­bil­i­ty are hik­ing, bik­ing, squats, and yoga. These activ­i­ties are low­er body inten­sive (except for yoga which can be all-body inten­sive) and can be tweaked to focus on build­ing your quads, ankle strength, and calf mus­cles. The stronger your legs are, over­all, the more sta­ble your knee will be.

Focus on Sta­bil­i­ty and Strength
Oth­er work­outs that pro­mote sta­bil­i­ty and strength include lunges and squats uti­liz­ing a Bosu ball, wall-sits, and calf-rais­es. Try to incor­po­rate these into your work­out rou­tine 3–4 days a week and you will reap the ben­e­fits come ski season.

Return Con­fi­dent but Cautious
Ok, so you do 100 squats a day, leg press 200 lbs, and bike 30 miles to and from work. Con­grat­u­la­tions, you’re a beast. And, chances are, your knee is gonna do just fine when you’re bomb­ing runs this win­ter. But keep in mind that there are no guar­an­tees. If you didn’t have surgery, then there is still a por­tion of your ACL that is scared and, as such, less elas­tic and func­tion­al if it was a par­tial tear. If you sus­tained a full tear, then you run even more risk for insta­bil­i­ty. As such, you should return to ski­ing con­fi­dent in your abil­i­ties, but cau­tious when it comes to the swift, cut­ting motions that it usu­al­ly takes to tree ski, huck cliffs, and mur­der moguls.

Ease into the sea­son. See how you do on the eas­i­er runs, then pick up some speed. Steeps, trees, and moguls are gonna be hard, that all their is to it. That doesn’t mean you can’t try them, that just means you should be pre­pared for pos­si­ble dis­com­fort and even instability.

Brace If Needed 
There are some amaz­ing braces on the mar­ket specif­i­cal­ly for skiers. Ask your ortho­pe­dic spe­cial­ist or sur­geon to rec­om­mend one. Chances are they will have a brace-rep come and fit you on the spot. If your knee feels unsta­ble or caus­es you pain, then brace. There’s no shame or harm in it.

No “Idiot’s Run”
There’s a term that floats around amongst snowboarder’s and skiers called “The Idiot’s Run”. Essen­tial­ly, it refers to the last run of the day when your legs are toast and you know you real­ly should call it quits but, instead, you go for one more rip­ping ses­sion just to spite your­self and the mountain.

This is all well and good for some­one with healthy knees (Who is in their ear­ly 20s and is still invin­ci­ble) but, for some­one with an injured knee, this is prob­a­bly one of the worst choic­es you can make on the moun­tain. Push­ing your­self is impor­tant. It makes you bet­ter. But the idiot’s run doesn’t improve your skills, it just gets you hurt. So, once your legs are shot and you start to feel your form go, call it a day and hit the bar.

Cheers to healthy knees and a snowy season!

©istockphoto/microgenTeach­ing a boyfriend, girl­friend, hus­band or wife to ski (par­tic­u­lar­ly if you’re an expert) can be chal­leng­ing and can require a lot of patience.

The first thing you should do if you’re gonna dive head­first into teach­ing your part­ner is to ask your­self if you believe you have the abil­i­ty and the lev­el-head to be a teacher on the slopes. If the answer is “yes”, then here are some oth­er tips to ensure that the learn­ing expe­ri­ence is pos­i­tive and lov­ing for both of you.

Be Encour­ag­ing Always
There are going to be times when you get frus­trat­ed with your part­ner. That’s ok. What’s not ok is say­ing neg­a­tive or belit­tling things like, “Why aren’t you get­ting this?” or “You’re being a baby. Just do it.” 

Keep it pos­i­tive and hon­est. Give them real feed­back that is free of emo­tion such as:

“That was a real­ly flu­id turn.”

“Try to keep your knees bent a bit more and loosen up your body.”

“Make sure to look down­hill instead of just at your skis.” 

“Great effort today. You’re catch­ing on.” 

Don’t Com­pare Their Learn­ing Expe­ri­ence to Yours
Chances are, you learned to ski when you were young or in your teens. Some­thing to under­stand before teach­ing an adult is that grown-ups often learn very dif­fer­ent­ly than chil­dren and teenagers.

For chil­dren and teens, the ele­ment of fun typ­i­cal­ly trumps any fear they might have.

How­ev­er, for adults, fun is often sec­ondary to the fear and self-con­scious­ness that they will expe­ri­ence when learn­ing this new (and very phys­i­cal­ly demand­ing) sport.

As such, don’t say things like:

“This was so easy for me when I learned. I don’t under­stand why you’re not pick­ing it up.” 

In fact, don’t tell them that any­thing is “easy” or that they will “catch on quick­ly” because you have no idea what their learn­ing curve will be. They may catch on and start rip­ping groomers the first few days, while pow­der ski­ing or trees might throw them for a loop.

Let them learn at their own pace and don’t com­pare, encourage.

Take Time-Outs
If you’re both get­ting frus­trat­ed, take a break. Imme­di­ate­ly. Go eat. Go drink. Even call it a day if need be. Ski­ing is sup­posed to be fun and is meant to bring you clos­er togeth­er. If the oppo­site is occur­ring, press pause.

Buy Them a Lesson
Once they’ve got­ten to the point where they need more direct and pro­fes­sion­al instruc­tion, maybe con­sid­er buy­ing them a les­son. Ski instruc­tors can often make a mediocre ski­er a damn good ski­er in one or two lessons sim­ply by com­ment­ing on form and by being a neu­tral observer.

Be able to rec­og­nize when it’s time to let the true experts take over and your sig­nif­i­cant oth­er will thank you. Not to men­tion, the entire goal is for your part­ner to be able to ski WITH you, so a les­son or two is one step clos­er to that goal.

©istockphoto/ultramarinfoto Tired of expen­sive tick­ets and long lift lines? Check out these clas­sic back­coun­try adventures.

Berthoud Pass, Colorado
When you’re tired of the crowds at the Col­orado resorts, find snowy soli­tude just 70 miles west of Den­ver. Berthoud Pass, with 1,000 acres of diverse ter­rain, is a back­coun­try skier’s dream—and the area’s best-known back­coun­try tour is a five-mile, all-day tour from the Sec­ond Creek Drainage to Win­ter Park Resort. Be pre­pared for altitude—the area’s base is at 11,300 ft—and brush up on your avalanche skills and/or ski with an expert, because the snow­pack is noto­ri­ous­ly unstable.

Saw­tooth Moun­tains, Idaho
For an off-the-grid adven­ture, Idaho’s the place to go. With back­coun­try ter­rain that ranged from gen­tle rollers to near-ver­ti­cal couloirs, the Saw­tooths are the per­fect des­ti­na­tion for skiers and split­board­ers to incre­men­tal­ly build their tour­ing skills. The clas­sic route: a three-day adven­ture from the Red­fish Lake gate to the Bench Lakes Hut, which includes a 1,500 ft descent down an angled couloir on the 10,299 ft Mount Heyburn.

Stevens Pass, Washington
Just two hours from Seat­tle, High­way 2 winds into the Cas­cade Moun­tains, bisect­ing one of the country’s biggest back­coun­try play­grounds. Start by get­ting a feel for the snow at Stevens Pass Resort, then point your ski tips into the moun­tains. “You can lit­er­al­ly dri­ve the high­way look­ing for fun lines,” says one local guide. “Pick a pull-off, stretch on your skins, and go. It’s choose-your-own-adven­ture out here.”

Boul­der Hut, British Columbia
The Pur­cell moun­tain range isn’t well known, but only because locals work hard to pro­tect their secret: inte­ri­or British Colum­bia boasts some of the best pow­der in North Amer­i­ca. And the 6,500-ft Boul­der Hut—which is heli­copter-access only and sleeps up to 12 people—is the per­fect jump­ing-off point for explor­ing the area on skis or a split­board. Nes­tled between Mount Hig­gins and Mount Levesque, the area offers diverse tour­ing options. You’ll find tree ski­ing, bliss­ful glades, tech­ni­cal moun­taineer­ing objec­tives, and—in most years— con­sis­tent­ly fluffy pow.

Com­mis­sary Ridge, Wyoming
No West Coast back­coun­try round-up would be com­plete with a shout-out to the moun­tains of Wyoming, which offer down­right ridicu­lous lines. The oppor­tu­ni­ties for explo­ration end­less: there’s cham­pagne pow­der for days, the jagged, breath­tak­ing beau­ty of the Tetons, and nobody will judge you if you ski in a cow­boy hat. Look­ing for a place to start? Check out Teton Back­coun­try Guides, who have been oper­at­ing yurts in the Tetons since 1986.

When­ev­er you ven­ture into the backcountry—especially in avalanche terrain—make sure you have the gear, edu­ca­tion, and skills to trav­el safe­ly. When in doubt, seek qual­i­fied instruc­tion: take an avalanche course (or two!), hire a guide, or find expe­ri­enced partners.

Chammonix, France.

There’s no short­age of snowboarding/skiing resorts strewn across the world. Most of them pro­vide epic pow­der and slopes that’ll send you tum­bling with one wrong move. Whether you’re a sea­soned vet or just get­ting into the sport, here are five moun­tains you should check out before you kick the bucket.

©istockphoto/Banff, Alberta, Canada

1. Banff, Alberta, Canada

The area around Banff pro­vides over 8000 ski­able acres. This makes it one of the largest and most beloved snow­board­ing and ski­ing spots on the plan­et. The moun­tains here are teem­ing with dou­ble-black-dia­mond runs to keep rid­ers sat­is­fied. While the town itself is a haven for folks who love win­ter sports. There are plen­ty of craft brew­eries and upscale resorts in the area to keep you busy when you’re not slay­ing the slopes.

Verbier, Switzerland

2. Verbier, Switzerland

Ski­ing and Snow­board­ing in Ver­bier aren’t exact­ly easy on the wal­let, but if you can afford it you’ll dis­cov­er why it’s a favorite around the world. The lines down the moun­tains here are some of the best in Europe. It’s wide­ly known for its piste rid­ing, so if you pre­fer off-piste it might not be your style.

Chammonix, France.

3. Chamonix, France

The Cha­monix Val­ley in France is one of ski­ing and snowboarding’s pre­mier off-piste des­ti­na­tions thanks to extreme­ly rugged ter­rain and the locals’ gen­er­al avoid­ance of even main­tain­ing the pre­tense of try­ing to upkeep the resorts. It’s beloved in the win­ter by those who need to hit the pow­der and in the sum­mer by climbers, mak­ing it one of the best places on Earth for out­door adven­ture. Ski­ing and board­ing cul­ture thrives here and it’s home to one of the most charm­ing lit­tle towns in all of Europe. It’s also home to the continent’s most thrilling moun­tain: Mount Blanc.

Myoko Kogen, Japan

4. Myoko Kogen, Japan

The Myoko area is made up of sev­er­al ski resorts, most of which are local­ly owned and operated—a won­der­ful break from the many west­ern­ized resorts in Japan. It sits right in the heart of the Joshinet­su Nation­al Park an hour north of Nagano. Myoko is renowned for the sheer enor­mi­ty of snow that falls: rough­ly 42 feet a sea­son. There’s ample oppor­tu­ni­ty for snow­board­ers and skiers to get off-piste in the region. Plus, the lack of ritz and glitz means you’ll have noth­ing much else to do while you’re here.

Mammoth Mountain, California, USA

5. Mammoth Mountain, California, USA

While most snow­birds flock to Col­orado once the pow­der sea­son begins, diehard rid­ers know that the best place to go close to home is Mam­moth Moun­tain. With near­ly 3500 acres of unadul­ter­at­ed ter­rain to explore, it’s a mec­ca for out­door enthu­si­asts. Snow sea­son lasts well into May with aver­ages near­ing 15 meters. Thus, there’s always a good time to hit the slopes. The ter­rain parks have pistes for every skill lev­el. You won’t have trou­ble chal­leng­ing your­self at any of the three major hubs.

Ski­ing or snow­board­ing out of bounds has many appeal­ing ben­e­fits to it. The qui­et feel­ing of being away from every­thing, fresh snow, and adven­ture of it all makes for a fun time out there. But on the oth­er hand, there are many risks that peo­ple don’t con­sid­er that, if addressed, sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase the chances of sur­vival when some­thing goes wrong. Because there is a lot that can go wrong when you are out in the wilder­ness on your own.

But things can go wrong any­where, and it’s how you respond to the sit­u­a­tions that can mean the dif­fer­ence between a good day and a real­ly ter­ri­ble one. Here are a few ques­tions that will help your plan­ning process before it’s too late to come up with a plan B.

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Have We Been This Way Before?
A lot of prob­lems arise when peo­ple go into unchart­ed ter­rain. The appeal of fresh lines can turn off ratio­nal think­ing, such as “How long will it take to get out?” or “Is there a safe exit from here?”

While it may seem pret­ty straight­for­ward, it’s always a good idea to know the way out. Even if you haven’t been that way before it will get you into the mind­set of play­ing it conservative

Does Some­one Know Our Plan?
It’s always nice to know that some­one cares. If the unthink­able does hap­pen and you get strand­ed, hav­ing some­one call for help might be your sav­ing grace. So if you do plan on head­ing some­where out of range sim­ply make sure you tell some­one your plan. Just a rough out­line can help nar­row down a search for search and res­cue par­ties. Give peo­ple an ETA so that they can send for help if it gets too late.

How Long Can We Last Out Here?
Do you have spare food and water? Are your clothes warm enough to with­stand the night? Will the per­son you are with dri­ve you to delir­i­um if you are stuck togeth­er for an extend­ed peri­od of time? All these ques­tions relate to the big idea of decid­ing how long you could last if some­thing hap­pened. An injury can slow your day down sig­nif­i­cant­ly, and a 20-minute ride out can become hours.

Day­light is also a big con­sid­er­a­tion along these lines as well. Sure a quick lap out of bounds takes a half hour…on a good day. How long would it be in a worst case sce­nario? Of course, you nev­er want things to go wrong, but plan­ning back­wards from the longest case sce­nario will do a lot if the inevitable delay even­tu­al­ly does cause you some headache.

Are We Fit Enough To Do This?
Even if you have a plan set in place it is impor­tant to set real­is­tic expec­ta­tions based on the group’s fit­ness lev­el. You don’t want to bonk out of ener­gy out in the ele­ments. Even if you’ve done some­thing before, when was the last time you did it and were cir­cum­stances dif­fer­ent? I’ve seen many cas­es of peo­ple get­ting stuck out of bounds because they were over­con­fi­dent in the ear­ly sea­son. Even a cou­ple days a week at the gym a month before things get going can ensure a speed­i­er exit when pow time comes.ski out of bounds

ski suncare

ski suncareIt’s the time of year for fluffy pow­der, fresh turns, brisk moun­tain air—and gog­gle tans, dry skin, and chapped lips. As you’re hit­ting the slopes this sea­son, keep these tips in mind.

Sun Pro­tec­tion Is Key
You’ve heard the warn­ings about wear­ing sun­screen before, but they’re more impor­tant than ever dur­ing the win­ter months—especially when you’re on snow or ice, which has a unique­ly high albe­do, or reflec­tive­ness. In oth­er words, while you might be used to pro­tect­ing your skin from radi­a­tion com­ing from above, when you’re on the slopes you need to con­sid­er radi­a­tion from below. Use an SPF of 45 or more on your face, neck, ears, and hands. If you’ll be in wet con­di­tions, use a water­proof sun­screen or a for­mu­la specif­i­cal­ly designed for high-alti­tude sports. On par­tic­u­lar­ly sun­ny days, con­sid­er using a buff, face mask, and/or brimmed hat to min­i­mize radi­a­tion. If you’re feel­ing zeal­ous, look into a nose cover—they attach to your gog­gles or sun­glass­es, pro­tect­ing your sen­si­tive schnoz.

Don’t For­get Your Lips
Always, always, always use a lip balm with SPF. Accord­ing to a recent study by the Amer­i­can Soci­ety for Der­ma­to­log­ic Surgery, only 6% of Amer­i­cans are aware that ultra­vi­o­let rays can cause lip can­cer. The study also revealed that men in North Amer­i­ca have 5–10 times greater inci­dence of lip can­cer than women. The take­away? Pro­tect your pout. Every. Sin­gle. Time. To remind your­self, stash tubes of lip balm in mul­ti­ple places—your jack­et pock­ets, your car, your ski bag, etc.

Stay Hydrat­ed
Healthy skin requires mois­ture, and prop­er hydra­tion comes from the inside out. Cold air can mask symp­toms of thirst, mak­ing you less like­ly to remem­ber to sip water con­sis­tent­ly through­out the day. And the air is espe­cial­ly dry at high alti­tude and in heat­ed lodges, mak­ing water con­sump­tion even more impor­tant. To stay hydrat­ed, don’t guzzle—sip water con­sis­tent­ly through­out the day, mod­er­ate your caf­feine and alco­hol con­sump­tion, and choose fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles (rather than dried or processed food) when­ev­er possible.

Lim­it Hot Showers
And hot tubs. No mat­ter how good a hot soak sounds after a long day out­doors, scald­ing water strips skin of nat­ur­al oils, leav­ing your skin dry and del­i­cate. Try to keep show­ers rel­a­tive­ly quick. Use warm water, not scalding.

If You Do Get Sunburned
If you do get too much sun, be very care­ful about re-expos­ing the dam­aged skin to the ele­ments. Mois­tur­ize, stay hydrat­ed, and use very gen­tle skin care prod­ucts until the skin is healed. Con­sid­er zinc oxide on any exposed skin on your face, and keep in mind that your tem­per­a­ture reg­u­la­tion might be com­pro­mised. And always remem­ber: pre­ven­tion is key.

It’s no secret that Cal­i­for­nia offers some of the best surf­ing, skiing/snowboarding, moun­tain bik­ing, and rock climb­ing in the Unit­ed States. The state’s diverse geog­ra­phy is a big rea­son why so many action sports ath­letes call Cal­i­for­nia home. With the sup­port of Clif Bar, Jere­my Jones (Pro­fes­sion­al Big Moun­tain Snow­board­er), Greg Long (Pro­fes­sion­al Big Wave Surfer), Hila­ree O’Neill (Pro­fes­sion­al Ski Moun­taineer), and Matt Hunter (Pro­fes­sion­al Moun­tain Bik­er) skied, climbed, moun­tain biked, and surfed their way from the Sier­ra Neva­da Moun­tains to the Pacif­ic Ocean in a sin­gle day of end­less adven­ture. Watch as these world-class ath­letes put their ath­leti­cism to the test out­side of their com­fort zones while enjoy­ing a “Dream Day” in California.

How many of your favorite activ­i­ties can you pack into a sin­gle day?

©istockphoto/aimintang

©istockphoto/aimintangEvery­one loves a moun­tain town. Whether you’ve been there once or every week­end since you were 13, there’s that one place you dream about being when you’re stuck in traf­fic dur­ing your morn­ing com­mute or work­ing over­time at the office. You dream about leav­ing the city behind and mov­ing to the moun­tains con­stant­ly, but some­thing holds you back until one day, you just pick a date in your cal­en­dar, book a U‑Haul and start packing.

That’s what I did any­way. I left my job at a Seat­tle-based tech com­pa­ny and head­ed to the Sier­ra Neva­da moun­tains because they are clos­er to my fam­i­ly, remind me of my child­hood, and just make me hap­py. And I def­i­nite­ly don’t regret it.

Moun­tain towns aren’t for everyone—if you read every­thing above this point and think it sounds nice but don’t want to sac­ri­fice the ameni­ties of city liv­ing, you prob­a­bly should hold onto that desk job. I miss good (and cheap) pho, reli­able pub­lic tran­sit, buy­ing a car­ton of eggs for less than $5, art muse­ums, year-round farm­ers mar­kets, and a few oth­er urban ameni­ties, but hon­est­ly it’s hard for me to come up with a long list of things that I loved about liv­ing in the city. 

On the oth­er hand, the list of things I love about liv­ing in the moun­tains is endless. 

The Perks
The biggest draw to liv­ing in a moun­tain town is, of course, the moun­tains. Ski­ing, hik­ing, pad­dling, cycling…you name it and it’s prob­a­bly pret­ty acces­si­ble. One of my pre­vi­ous jobs in the city had some great perks. They paid for half of my gym mem­ber­ship and gave me a GoPro as a Christ­mas bonus. A giant perk I have now that I didn’t then, how­ev­er, is a world-class resort des­ti­na­tion right out my front door.  I’ll take the moun­tain lifestyle over a few more thou­sands of dol­lars a year any day. 

The Peo­ple
Sure, some of the peo­ple can be a lit­tle bit elit­ist about locals vs. tourists or even tran­sients vs. full-time res­i­dents, but for the most part I con­nect right away with the peo­ple I meet. We all chose a cer­tain lifestyle and most like­ly have at least one pas­sion in com­mon, whether it’s the envi­ron­ment, an out­door sport, or the love of a good brew. As a rel­a­tive new­bie to my town, I have found that many peo­ple are quick to offer advice about where to go hik­ing, what back roads are best to take on stormy days and when to avoid the gro­cery stores on big tourist week­ends. The first win­ter I lived here, a kind stranger even went so far as to back my car out of a slip­pery snow­bank for me when she saw me struggling.

The Com­mu­ni­ty
There are a lot of tran­sient work­ers who come through town dur­ing the peak sea­son, which makes locals hes­i­tant to put them­selves out there. When I first moved here, one of my new friends con­fessed that she was scared to make new friends because so many of hers had moved away. Locals get tired of the folks who come to town to par­ty for a win­ter and then take off. 

The flip side of this is that the peo­ple who are real­ly invest­ed in the com­mu­ni­ty are very well-con­nect­ed and appre­cia­tive of each oth­er. My advice if you are ready to com­mit to being there long-term: seek out non­prof­its and com­mu­ni­ty groups. Vol­un­teer and learn about issues that face your com­mu­ni­ty. I have also found the gym to be a sur­pris­ing­ly good place to do a lit­tle net­work­ing. Be obvi­ous about your inter­est in carv­ing out a life for your­self in the moun­tains and stay­ing long-term. Trust me, being part of a small moun­tain com­mu­ni­ty is a great and reward­ing thing. 

©istockphoto/DOUGBERRYThe Out­door Lifestyle
Both the peo­ple, the com­mu­ni­ty, and the nat­ur­al sur­round­ings of my town inspire me to push myself and grow much more than if I was just an occa­sion­al week­end war­rior. All of the peo­ple who make their lives here do so because they are devot­ed to an active, out­door lifestyle (ear­li­er I men­tioned net­work­ing at the gym, but trails and slopes also do the trick!). The peo­ple I have met in my moun­tain town inspire me to try new sports, to be more fit and to chal­lenge myself as an out­door athlete.

Being a Lady
My moun­tain town doesn’t quite have as stark of an inequal­i­ty between the num­ber of men and women who make their home here as some ski des­ti­na­tions, but I will admit the odds are in my favor. Plus, the men I meet in the moun­tains are the type that don’t seem to mind when I for­get to put on make­up or walk around town in work­out leg­gings. When we hang out, we skin up or shred. We go for a ride or grab a beer. The guys here are inter­est­ed in girls who like spend­ing time with them out­doors, and I am def­i­nite­ly okay with that.

Being a Local
I’ll admit it, I love strik­ing up a con­ver­sa­tion on a chair­lift, being asked where I’m from and answer­ing, “Here!” with a giant, smug grin on my face. Because every time I see that jeal­ous look from a tourist, I can’t help but feel like I am liv­ing everyone’s dream. 

It’s no secret that the west coast has some of the best ski­ing and surf­ing in the Unit­ed States. Year round you can find snow high up in the glaciat­ed peaks of the Cas­cades and Sierra’s, along with waves break­ing from North­ern Wash­ing­ton to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. I have been ski­ing since the age of 3 and start­ed surf­ing about 9 months ago after mov­ing to Port­land, Ore­gon. Life used to be sim­ple when all I had to think about was chas­ing win­ter storms, but now when the snow and swell hit at the same time it leaves me with a tough deci­sion: head east to the moun­tains, or west to the coast. With the first win­ter storms already bring­ing heavy snow and pow­er­ful swell into the Pacif­ic North­west, I decid­ed to for­go the all or noth­ing approach. Instead, I’ve been doing my best to pack in both ski­ing and surf­ing adven­tures every week­end. Head­ing direct­ly from the coast to Cas­cades and vice-ver­sa. Here are a few of my tips on catch­ing waves and snow in the same day.

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The Go-Bag

When a storm is hit­ting and you are try­ing to squeeze in two out­door activ­i­ties on the same day, you don’t have time to wor­ry about mak­ing sure you packed all of the right gear. Have a bag ready with all of your camp­ing essen­tials, a bag with your ski gear, and a bag with your surf gear. This way whether you’re dip­ping out of work ear­ly on a Fri­day or play­ing hooky dur­ing the week, you’ll be ready to quick­ly hop in your car and hit the road. Try to keep it min­i­mal with camp­ing gear. You don’t want to wor­ry about unpack­ing and repack­ing unnec­es­sary items. A sleep­ing bag, sleep­ing pad, camp pil­low, down jack­et, head­lamp, spork, small stove, jug of water, and a few dehy­drat­ed meals is real­ly all you need to make it through the night and morning.

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Mois­ture Management

Coastal and high-ele­va­tion weath­er can be very tem­pera­men­tal. It’s often a fine line between snow and rain. Dress in tech­ni­cal lay­ers for the moun­tain and bring along your neo­prene booties and gloves to go with your wet­suit. At some point you are going to have a damp wet­suit along with sweaty out­er­wear and base­lay­ers. My rec­om­men­da­tion is to bring a large wet/dry bag or a cheap plas­tic bin with you on all of your trips. After you are done surf­ing or ski­ing toss your dirty, wet, and stinky items into your bag/bin so they don’t drip in your car or all over your dry gear. Rinse, wash, and dry your gear right when you get home to pre­serve its lifes­pan and so it’s ready for your next trip.

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Tech­nol­o­gy Is Your Friend

At some point you need to make the deci­sion whether to head to the coast or moun­tain first. Yes, fore­casts can be a flop and weath­er can unex­pect­ed­ly change, but there are a lot of weath­er apps and web­sites ded­i­cat­ed to surfers and skiers. I use OpenSnow.com and PowderChasers.com for snow fore­casts. I use SurfLine.com and MagicSeaweed.com for surf­ing. Tides, snow lev­els, road con­di­tions, swell direc­tion, and winds are just some of the impor­tant fac­tors when decid­ing where to head first. It does­n’t hurt to edu­cate your­self on some mete­o­rol­o­gy terms either.

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Choos­ing Where To Camp

If you’re any­thing like me you get your fix of city life dur­ing the week. Get out of the city for a few nights and sleep at either the moun­tain or coast the night before you plan to ski or surf. There is noth­ing worse than being stuck in traf­fic on a pow­der day, and in my opin­ion noth­ing beats wak­ing up, hav­ing a quick cup of cof­fee, and being the first one into the water or on the moun­tain. There is no point in pay­ing for a camp­site (if they are even open), espe­cial­ly when you don’t plan on hang­ing around in the morn­ing. If you are car camp­ing at the coast your best bet is to come in late and leave ear­ly. Whether you choose to park on an old log­ging road, in an aban­doned park­ing lot, or chance it in a state park park­ing lot is up to you. At the moun­tain you have few­er options. Your best bet is prob­a­bly to sleep in your car, and sur­pris­ing­ly there are a grow­ing num­ber of ski areas that allow overnight park­ing. That being said, one of the best sun­ris­es of my life was the morn­ing after sleep­ing halfway up Mount Hood. I’ve also slept in a jan­i­tors clos­et and a cafe­te­ria at var­i­ous ski areas. Be cre­ative and remem­ber, igno­rance is bliss.

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Bring A Friend, Or Two

I do not rec­om­mend ven­tur­ing out on a sea to sum­mit adven­ture by your­self. Friends will make it a more mem­o­rable and safer expe­ri­ence. Long dri­ves by your­self can get lone­ly and dan­ger­ous when you are exhaust­ed after a long day of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. Try to lim­it the group size to 3 or 4 so you can main­tain some lev­el of stealth when camp­ing and so you can fit into one car. Before extend­ing an invi­ta­tion to a friend, make sure they are ready and will­ing to take on the adven­ture. Inclement weath­er camp­ing, alpine starts, and cold water are not for every­one. Final­ly, make sure they have the right gear. You don’t want them to slow down the group or get injured. It’s an added bonus to take a friend with you that is a skilled photographer.

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In Sum­ma­ry

These are just a few things I have learned dur­ing my trips between the coast and moun­tains. Do your research on where you plan to stay and know the risks asso­ci­at­ed with ski­ing, surf­ing, and camp­ing in inclement weath­er and the back­coun­try. You don’t need to spend a lot of mon­ey to have an epic week­end of ski­ing and surf­ing, you just need ded­i­ca­tion and the abil­i­ty to go a few days with­out show­er­ing. If you haven’t already skied and surfed in the same day, I high­ly rec­om­mend it. Just remem­ber to have fun, the rest will work itself out.

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Writ­ten by Kyle Mag­gy     |     Film Pho­tog­ra­phy by Nate Duffy


 

7 Best Dirtbag Resorts

Hav­ing trou­ble ski­ing on a dime? Here are the sev­en best dirt­bag resorts for skiers and snow­board­ers who need mon­ey for ramen:

Jay Peak
Most folks trav­el a long way to ski here for good rea­son. It has the MOST snow in the North­east thanks to the Jay Cloud and the micro-cli­mate cre­at­ed by the pass. While Stowe also boasts great Back and Side Coun­try access, the lines are way too long, the tick­ets are expen­sive and the trees are often tight. At Jay, the lines are short, the tick­ets are cheap, and there’s sim­ply noth­ing quite like pulling high speed GS turns in thigh deep pow­der deep in the woods. If you learn the moun­tain you can eas­i­ly spend the day ski­ing pow­der turns all day even a few days after a good storm.

Bear Moun­tain
Big Bear Moun­tain Resorts is actu­al­ly two ski areas: Bear Moun­tain and Snow Sum­mit. A dual moun­tain pass pro­vides access to both and a shut­tle ser­vice is pro­vid­ed between the two ski areas. They can’t quite com­pare to Mam­moth or Tahoe Resorts but, if you’re in SoCal and want  to ski 30 plus days a year, Big Bear is hands down the best choice. Bear Moun­tain appeals more to the 20 some­thing crowd and though it wel­comes both skiers and board­ers, most of the resort is ded­i­cat­ed park ter­rain. Lit­tle Sean White corked his first rodeo on these slopes and the bar is set high here, but if you  keep your flow you’ll be fine. Bear Moun­tain placed 33rd in Out­side Mag­a­zines 2012 top 40 nation­wide resort rank­ings and it’s a spot well deserved. 

Red Lodge
Red Lodge Moun­tain Resort is as much about the charm­ing town of Red Lodge at the base of the Beartooth High­way from Cooke City as it is the moun­tain itself, because Red Lodge has about the friend­liest peo­ple in the coun­try. Their $30 col­lege rate was hard to find any­where else, espe­cial­ly when you con­sid­er the qual­i­ty ski­ing they have. Red Lodge is the kind of resort that puts ski­ing above every­thing else. There’s no fan­cy lodge, but the lifts are great and the ter­rain var­ied.  This is one of the best resorts to take your first crack at hit­ting fea­tures in the ter­rain park.

Grand Targhee
For­get for a moment all those adver­tise­ments about Utah. The best snow in my opin­ion is in Wyoming. This is not the place for peo­ple who like to ski groomers though, as groomed runs are prac­ti­cal­ly non-exis­tent here. The locals don’t even show up unless there’s at least 10″ of fresh snow because it hap­pens so often. For pow­der hounds, this place is heav­en. Because of its remote­ness, very few peo­ple come here. Most peo­ple go to Jack­son hole, which is on the oth­er side of the moun­tain range, and does­n’t get all the good snow dumps like Grand Targhee. They get more than 500 inch­es of snow annu­al­ly and with over 2,200 ver­ti­cal feet, it’s hard to not nab your own first tracks.

Bridger Bowl
Bridger Bowl is renowned for its extreme inbounds ter­rain and its cold, super dry snow. Being on the east­ern side of the con­ti­nen­tal divide, snow qual­i­ty is deli­cious­ly dry, hence Bridger’s moniker ‘Ski the Cold Smoke’. The ski area is locat­ed on the east slope of the Bridger Range and extends 2 miles from the ridge­line down to the base area at 6,100’. Bridger Bowl is flanked by large bowls to the North and South. The name has a reason—most of the ski area offers wide open ter­rain with a vari­ety of land­scapes includ­ing long slopes, glades, chutes and gul­lies in addi­tion to oth­er small­er bowls.

Mount Shas­ta7 Best Dirtbag Resorts
With 1,390 feet of ver­ti­cal and fab­u­lous­ly groomed trails, Mount Shas­ta is a great place for any lev­el of ski­er or snow­board­er. They have the Rev­o­lu­tion Ter­rain Park and Super pipe, which is not for the faint of heart (a net­work of box­es and rails along with a 1,000 feet ver­ti­cal ter­rain run). Not only is Mount Shas­ta known for it’s great trails and ter­rain parks, but their gold medal learn­ing cen­ter which is con­sid­ered one of the finest in the indus­try. Whether you’re a begin­ner or advanced ski­er, there’s some­thing at Mount Shas­ta Ski Park for everyone.

Pow­der­horn
Nes­tled deep in the heart of the Grand Mesa on the sto­ried West­ern Slope of Col­orado, Pow­der­horn is a scenic, fam­i­ly-friend­ly resort fea­tur­ing 1,600 acres of ter­rain suit­ed to a vari­ety of abil­i­ties and pref­er­ences. Pow­der­horn is known for extend­ing excep­tion­al val­ue to each guest, thanks to improve­ments at the resort and moun­tain focused on cre­at­ing a one-of-a-kind, year-round expe­ri­ence. West­ern Col­orado is known for its wide-open spaces, dis­tinc­tive topog­ra­phy and friend­ly local res­i­dents. It is also rec­og­nized for its vine­yards, winer­ies and agri­cul­ture. The cli­mate allows for ski­ing or snow­board­ing in the morn­ing and play­ing a round of golf or enjoy­ing a hike or moun­tain bike ride in the after­noon. The options for explor­ing, both moun­tain and the Grand Mesa, are mind-boggling.