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Ideas for the ultimate backcountry touring trip--Follow-up

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I posted more than a year ago, seeking suggestions for the perfect beginner backcountry ski touring trip. Got a lot of helpful responses, including a few warnings that I'd probably die in an avalanche. I appreciated all the feedback. So thought I'd finally post a follow-up about what I ended up doing, and perhaps there'll be some info that could benefit someone else in a similar position.

 

I ended up in CO, mainly because that was a relatively feasible drive from MI, and went around in a big loop, from Pagosa Springs, to Durango, Ouray, Leadville, all the way up to Rocky Mountain National Park, which was the most beautiful area I saw. Stopped along the way at a lot of nice spots, mostly for day trips.

 

I was thinking I would drive up forest service roads as far as I could get, camp, and then ski from there...but it turns out they gate the roads at the bottom during the winter. There were cheap motels in most places, though.

 

Possibly I went earlier than I should have—first two weeks of April. Got some fresh snow. That made trailbreaking tough, and reduced the distance I could travel, and the areas I could safely get into.

 

On the plus side, I did get to ski in some powder, which is as nice as all the real skiers say it is. But I never found the easy, safe corn snow that I've heard about.

 

It was very windy, most of the time, which made being above treeline unpleasant. I guess that's pretty common, that time of year.

 

My mindset, and perhaps vocabulary, is somewhat different from the other skiers I met out there. “Backcountry” seems to mean going with a group of friends, to a well-known spot, trudging up a skin trench, and skiing back down to the road on really steep, densely treed slopes interspersed with cliff bands. Looks like a lot of fun, but even if I were a good enough skier I would never try those lines without a local leading the way.

 

But when I said I'm a “cross-country” skier people would direct me to a touring center with groomed trails, and that isn't what I was looking for either.

 

But I did stumble on some beautiful tours, with easy slopes, gorgeous wilderness, no snowmobiles around, etc—everything I was hoping for.

 

This spring I'm heading out to Glacier National Park, etc, and going later—beginning of May. Maybe I'll hike for hours through brush and scree and get to steep suncupped couloirs that I can't ski. But I'm planning on spring wildflowers down low, and miles of easy, consolidated snowfields and awesome scenery up above.

post #2 of 9
Although I'm sure we'll have the Sun Road open earlier than usual this year, if that plays into your plans, you might want to watch the Park site for details as the normal opening is early July. If you're going to camp, I think you need a back country permit. Pack your bear spray.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

The pictures of Logan Pass look fabulous...but I'll be there before the road is usually open.  I'm hoping I can find out how to get up there, or to a similar spot.  Bears?  Well, that will be something new, but they are nice, friendly bears, aren't they?

post #4 of 9

I think the term for backcountry skiing on gentle slopes is "meadow skipping".  ...but that would probably only be understood by someone experienced enough to know there's more to backcountry than skiing steep lines.

post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathaniel View Post

The pictures of Logan Pass look fabulous...but I'll be there before the road is usually open.  I'm hoping I can find out how to get up there, or to a similar spot.  Bears?  Well, that will be something new, but they are nice, friendly bears, aren't they?

I'm sure the grizzlies will welcome you with open something.

In a normal year, my daughter has skied Logan in July. Before the road is open, I'm pretty sure they don't want civilians around. There are huge crews removing twenty feet or more of snow from high alpine roads, with avalanche risk very high. Your better bet would be to see what is up by Polebridge, but there's more bears there, I believe.
post #6 of 9
I am not down with camping around Griz. F$&k all that!

And Nathaniel, when asking for beta just tell people you want to go touring but are only interested in some safe and mellow meadow skipping. That will be very clear for anyone worth asking. Good luck!
post #7 of 9
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all this great info about Glacier!  I saw that video, while websurfing, and it makes me want to go during powder season.  But my challenge now is to figure out where to go in early May.  I'm looking forward to the trip.

post #9 of 9
A ski touring blog where some of the guys have hit Glacier a lot: http://skierboyz.blogspot.com
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