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Guided Backcountry Opportunities

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
More and more resorts are offering guided backcountry opportunities. As I and my kids have only some basic backcountry knowledge and only a few years experience we don't usually head out on our own in areas with which we are unfamiliar. We have been very lucky to make some good friends at different resorts who are very experienced and with whom we can go out. In fact this is a big factor in determining where we choose to ski.

However, it's always nice to visit new places and have an opportunity to explore the backcountry. I would be very interested in hearing about the best deals around for backcountry guiding. At most resorts it's just about the same cost as an all day private. That's not to say it isn't worth it, only that the cost can be prohibitive. Anyone care to talk about the best deals they know of?
post #2 of 6
The snowcat at Big Mountain is down right cheap.
Not very steep, but for a novice it would be a good start.
post #3 of 6
Definitely the *worst* deal is at Loon, where a 2.5-hr backcountry clinic costs $125 per person. And of course Loon has NO backcountry terrain (unless you count those sort-of secret glades out past Walking Boss). I think they just show you how to put on skins or something lame like that.

By contrast, when we were out at Tahoe & Tioga Pass this April, we paid only $25 each for a half- day tour at Loon's sister resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe (which opened its boundary last year):
Our guide was a long-time member of the ski patrol there.

When in Chamonix, our internationally certified mtn guide:
...was about $200 per day (total, for the two of us), which was quite a good deal considering that his steered us safely around gaping crevassess, etc., and that it was a 24-hr deal (overnight at a hut).

This past February we hired internationally certified mtn guide Marc Chauvin:
...to take four of us on a tour to Huntington and Tuckerman Ravine with a focus on avalanche awareness, at a cost of $100 per person, for a day that started with a pre-tour mtg at 7:30 a.m., and went to almost that same time - back at his place again - in the p.m. (stopping then only b/c two of us wanted to have dinner, as Marc seemed willing, nay eager, to talk about avy and bc safety w/ us all night).

Two years ago we hired Dave Good:
...for an overnight trip to Benson Hut (between Sugar Bowl and Squaw). Although not as experienced or credentialled as our other guides, he still did a great job, plus is the most amazing cook (with exceedingly limited facilities).

Be careful who you hire though! We've been more cautious after a horrible mtn biking experience:
Nice website, but word is finally getting around in the Boston mtn biking community about what a dangerously incompetent clown this guy is, and I shudder to think that backcountry skiing equivalents might exist!
Here's the list of AMGA-certified ski guides:
And here are two guide companies, in Tahoe & Eastern Sierra (two of the best places for spring touring):
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much. These are some very good resources. I was aware of the AMGA site but not some of the others. When looking at the AMGA site I wish that we could get people to buy into this (or any viable certification) more than they do. I personally know of many highly skilled and excellent guides who have not subscribed to this certification and I am sure that there are an abundance of others who are so qualified without certification. Wouldn't it be great to develop an American standard along the lines of UIAGM, even if the requirements weren't quite as stringent? Things seem to be moving in that direction but pretty slowly.

AC, do you think it might be worthwhile to start a page on ski guiding resources in the Focus section and linked to under the Backcountry Forum?
post #5 of 6
Si, I vaguely recall reading in the (now-defunct) Inside Tracks newsletter that a standalone organization was developing a ski guide certification program, more geared toward cat & heli ski operations than backcountry touring.
post #6 of 6
Not a central location but great skiing and LOTS OF SNOW – Mt. Bailey out here in central Oregon. http://www.mountbailey.com/mbinfo.html

Here is the ad from the web site:
·Three-thousand ft. vertical drop from the summit at 8363
·Average 600 inches annual snowfall
·Twenty-seven chutes of North Wall with
mind-blowing steeps up to 1200 vertical each
·Three massive bowls
·Endless wide-open tree skiing
·Infinite hits and drops
·Four to one guest to guide ratio -- impeccable safety record
·Fast, comfortable enclosed passenger cat
·Guaranteed untracked and up to 20,000
vertical in one day

2001-2002 SEASON RATES
The following rates are for our Prime Time Season:
January 1, 2002 through March 31, 2002.
(Reduced rates for shoulder seasons.)
·FULL SNOWCAT RENTAL - 15 Passenger: $2,850.00
·FULL SNOWCAT RENTAL - 12 Passenger: $2,280.00
Please call for reduced prices during the shoulder seasons.
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