Heat waves can sparkle, too 💫

Associate editor Greta Close finds some of that sparkle on a 95-degree day in Washington’s Olympic National Park. 📸 Greta Close

While waffling on going for a swelteringly hot afterwork run, I put on a neuroscience podcast, “Making the World Sparkle Again” by Hidden Brain. Apparently, every living organism experiences some form of habituation. In neuroscience, that means a physiological or emotional response diminishes with repeated stimulation. Good things become less good over time. Bad things become less bad. At its core it’s a survival mechanism. But it also means we notice things less as we become accustomed to our surroundings (sound a bit like heuristic traps?).

An hour later and the temperature a drastic one degree cooler, I set off on my run with the intention to notice more; to notice intentionally. I smiled at the last touches of snow dripping down distant peaks. I found myself almost laughing at the kids attempting to roll down a hill in the local park. Despite my slower than hoped for pace and the impending feeling that I might pass out at any minute, I returned from my 3-mile loop triumphant and in a considerably better mood than when I left.

Sometimes the conditions aren’t the best. Sometimes there’s a persistent weak layer on north faces and a sun crust on everything else. Most of the time, there’s still some sparkle left in between it all, even in everyday life. Essentially every time, I find it’s worth venturing into those less than ideal conditions. Maybe they’re better than you expect.

—Liam McGee, Editorial Assistant

On my Coffee Table

No. 149 | The Evolution Issue

As winter fades into a memory, I like to try to take some time to reflect. Issue 149, the Evolution Issue, is just about that process. It’s a thought provoking read featuring stories of people pushing boundaries, asking questions, reflecting on history and pondering the way forward. Regardless of when I flip through these pages, I find the stories ask me to slow down, move with intention and reframe my standards. —Liam

What’s on Your Coffee Table?

Are you a collector? Do you have a favorite issue? Snap a photo with it and tell us why in a few words—send it to greta@backcountrymagazine.com—and we’ll share it in our newsletter and on social media!

Winter, wherever you are.

Get The Historic Issue

There is something to be said for the interwoven exploration of history and land. Whether it’s from the perspective of fur traders and glade-cutting teleskiers on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula; via the curious lens of a photographer traversing Morocco’s Mgoun Massif; recognizing the impact of the 10th Mountain Division on U.S. backcountry skiing and mountaineering; or from a thoughtful writer’s investigation of what “home” means in Colorado’s mountains.

Then there are those looking to the future. The former U.S. Snowboard Team slalom racer who, after being diagnosed with myriad autoimmune diseases, including Type 1 Diabetes, has splitboarded around the world and founded an organization to help get more kids with diabetes into sports. And there’s the tele skier who found community in the National Brotherhood of Skiers and is working to get more Black people on the skintrack.

These are the histories, the stories and the efforts that bridge past and present and shape a better future for our sport. Subscribe now to get the issue.

  • Sweet Summer Turns

    Sweet Summer Turns

    Splitboarder Claire Hewitt-Demeyer dreams of snow year-round. As sweltering summer temperatures swept into her home Sierra Nevada Range, she set off to escape the heat and celebrate the last vestiges of winter.

  • Remembering William Altenburg: The Backcountry Pioneer You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

    Remembering William Altenburg: The Backcountry Pioneer You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

    In 2003, Brian Irwin wrote an article for Couloir about Phillips Brook Backcountry Recreation Area. This spring, the founder of the New Hampshire backcountry yurt system passed away. Twenty-one years since writing the initial article, Irwin reflects on Altenburg’s impact on backcountry skiing on the East Coast.


  • Après Shoes

    Après Shoes

    While ski and snowboard boots are our bread and butter, we all have to get to the trailhead, ski hill or bar somehow. So this winter, our editors put non-buckled nor Boa-sporting boots and shoes to the test.

  • Kuat Grip 6 Reviewed

    Transporting skis and boards to the trailhead or resort and home again is a necessary, but not always straightforward part of the sport. Not every car comes with the space for skis, so the roof is a great sot to store them. After a full winter with Kuat’s Grip 6 on the roof of her…

  • Gearbox: 2024 Electronics

    Gearbox: 2024 Electronics

    When you’re logging long days, overnights or epic descents in the backcountry, these are the electronic gadgets worth adding to your pack.

  • Gearbox: The Cozy Collection

    Gearbox: The Cozy Collection

    Whether you’re preparing for a trip to Antarctica or just run cold, this collection of extra-insulated apparel is guaranteed to keep you warm.


  • Gearbox: Litric Packs

    Though less-expensive canister models still exist in airbag packs, lithium-ion rechargeable versions set the standard these days.

  • Gearbox: 2024 Sunglasses

    Keep your eyes protected and on the prize. From photochromic lenses to stylish frames, these are our favorite sunglasses for the job.

  • Gearbox: 2024 Communication Devices

    Good communication is core to safe backcountry travel. These radios and satellite communication devices the lines stay open no matter where you’re adventuring.

  • Gearbox: 2024 Gloves

    Keeping your hands warm and dry on any tour is a must. But depending on the weather, the best glove or mitten for the job changes. So, we reviewed the whole gamut—from extra warm mitts to low profile glove liners.

The Backcountry Podcast

From legendary athletes to iconic product designers, activists to guides, our world is filled with new views, wisdom, determination and crustiness.

Latest Podcast Episodes

Doug Stoup: The Iceman

From playing NCAA soccer to a successful modeling and acting career to being the top polar explorer of his time, Doug Stoup is an enigma. Host Adam Howard recently journeyed to Antarctica with Stoup and their conversation ranges from Doug’s personal training of A-list Hollywood actors to near death experiences; adventures with Doug Coombs; and taking novice skiers to the South Pole.

Tele Mike Russell: Turns for All

Tele Mike Russell grew up as a sharecropper’s son in Delaware before attending college and becoming an executive in the pharmaceutical industry. Then he watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center and decided he’d better follow another path, this one to skiing in Colorado, where he’d go on to find a family in the National Brotherhood of Skiers and help found its backcountry program.

Eric Blehm: Meet Your Heroes

Eric Blehm’s roots in snowboarding run deep. He started riding during the sport’s infancy, and after college became an editor at Transworld SNOWboarding Magazine. Years later, he was in a lift line when a fellow rider saw the “Craig Kelly is my Co-Pilot” sticker on his board, and asked Blehm: “Who is Craig Kelly?” He was floored by the notion that there were snowboarders out there who didn’t know who Craig was. And this inspired him to write The Darkest White.

Mountain Skills

  • Mountain Skills: Anticipating Point Release Avalanches

    Mountain Skills

    Mountain Skills: Anticipating Point Release Avalanches

    As the spring approaches, many of us turn our attention to steeper, more technical lines higher in the mountains. The layers of snow that formed throughout the winter begin to gain strength and the avalanche problem is less complicated—it’s ski mountaineering season! But as the temperatures climb, wet avalanches become a more regular, primary concern.

Uphill Travel Guide

Resort Skinning Policies

We’ve compiled a database of U.S. resorts with a little about each individual policy—where and when skinning is allowed, whether or not it’s free during operating hours and the link directly to the resort’s guidelines.

View our resort skinning policies guide »

  • Mountain Skills: Take the time to be prepared for early season turns

    Mountain Skills: Take the time to be prepared for early season turns

    It’s late fall and many mountains throughout the U.S. have seen some decent early season snow. As a result, stoke is high and people are itching to ski. Guide Steve Banks shares his thoughts on how to capitalize on the early bounty.

  • Mountain Skills: How to Prepare for Your Level 1 Avalanche Course

    Mountain Skills: How to Prepare for Your Level 1 Avalanche Course

    Beacon. Shovel. Probe. For years, these have been the standard required tools for heading into the backcountry. But what good are they without the proper training in how to recognize hazards and use them effectively? That’s where a 24-hour Level 1 avalanche certificate course comes into play.

  • Mountain Skills: Why You Should Upgrade Your Avalanche Transceiver

    Mountain Skills: Why You Should Upgrade Your Avalanche Transceiver

    Imagine your best friend buried under frozen avalanche debris. Precious minutes have passed, and you are still fumbling around on the debris surface because the outdated transceiver you are searching with is unreliable and malfunctioning. According to Dale Atkins, former president of the American Avalanche Association and a 30-year avalanche professional, any transceiver more than…

  • Mountain Skills: The tools and tricks to stay motivated in the skintrack

    Mountain Skills: The tools and tricks to stay motivated in the skintrack

    In 2016, Aaron Rice skied 2.5 million human-powered vertical feet, and there were definitely times when he just didn’t feel like skinning. He often wanted to ski one less run or even lay down in the snow and cry. But he knew that, to reach his goal, he had to become a master of motivating…