Ski Touring is a sport that has seen a huge amount of interest increasing over the past decade. It’s actually how the sport originated — long before there were chairlifts, snowcats, and helicopters whisking crowds of people uphill to take up a small amount of space.
Instead, backcountry skiing (and splitboarding) has fast become an alternative to the busy ski resort or heliski atmosphere. With skins on your feet, you are able to climb uphill at your own pace, away from everyone else. You also have the option of climbing any slope with snow on it, as opposed to being stuck to places that have been developed for thousands of people on a ski holiday. Instead you are out in wild nature, propelled by the energy in your body. It might not seem appealing for many, but for those who enjoy good exercise and virtually unlimited fresh powder turns, there is nothing like it.
Here’s our list of the best places in the world to ski tour. It’s only a brief list to get you started, but even this little checklist will be a huge one to cross off.
The Spearhead Traverse: Whistler, BC, Canada — The Spearhead is a classic route, possibly the most travelled in North America. It connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains the long way — via a horseshoe-shaped traverse that can be done entirely above treeline. Some people do it in 4 days, others in 4 hours. Whatever your pace, you will be rewarded with deep, stable snow and 1,000m runs. In the springtime the views here can’t be beat.
The Wapta Traverse: Banff National Park, Canada The Wapta is one of the oldest routes in North America, dating back to the turn of the century when miners were exploring the area for new claims. The avalanche conditions here can be very unstable, so be sure that you know what you are doing when you go here. But it’s a spectacular route that will not disappoint your instagram followers. Definitely one for later in the season, as the Canadian Rockies can be extremely cold in the winter. There are huts but it gets busy, so be sure to book in advance before you go. More information can be found here.
The Haute Route: European Alps This is probably the most famous route in the world, and probably also the most crowded. The 180km traverse from Chamonix to Zermatt crosses the highest points of the European Alps, with all the stunning scenery to complement. This is not one for rookie backcountry skiers — the avalanche conditions and variable weather will require you to be on your toes at all times. There are also a plethora of guiding outfits that will take less experienced travellers, so perhaps keep that in mind if you are up for the challenge. You’ll be happy you did.
The Lyngen Alps: Norway — While this is not so much of a route but more of a region, a nod needs to be given to the area known for creating skiing centuries ago. The Lyngen area in particular has stunning beauty all around, with long daylight hours in the spring and amazing views of the ocean all around. There are many islands here with incredible mountains as well — not to mention an abundance of snow. It’s definitely a great place to check out, especially at the end of spring when mountains at lower latitudes have already started blossoming spring flowers. It’s not uncommon to ski until the end of June here with great conditions.
So pack up, get educated, get the gear, and get out there! See you in the mountains!