Pilot of the Impossible

In 2024, the Antarctic Peninsula looks much the same as it did 100 years ago: There’s no permanent population, and pack ice still forms in the freezing waters. But there are cruise ships, and one of them, the Ocean Albatross, carries 100 skiers and 40 guides, all of whom are following Doug Stoup, the owner of Ice Axe Expeditions and possibly the greatest Antarctic explorer of our time.

Editor’s Note: For Kathy

At the bottom of the world, Adam Howard finds fellow Vermonter and Swiss Guide Hans Solmssen


Being a mountain guide in Chamonix, France can be as romantic as it sounds, but it’s also hard on the mind and taxing on the body. And romance and fatigue usually don’t go together. So what if your lover is also a guide? Maybe your business partner, too? Meet Miles and Elizabeth Smart. They can get you into some of the hairiest places on the planet. And they share socks.

Should we care about ski mountaineering in the Olympics? Look to mountain biking for the answer

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed today, July 20, that ski mountaineering will be added to the 2026 Winter Olympics in Cortina, Italy. InsideTheGames.biz reported the news from the Main Press Centre in Tokyo, where the IOC has gathered in advance of the Summer Games. This news comes after skimo premiered in the 2020 Youth Winter Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland, and was officially proposed by the IOC executive board in June. To celebrate the news, we’re republishing a story written by Backcountry’s Adam Howard from 2014, when the IOC granted provisional recognition to the International Ski Mountaineering Federation, a first step toward the inclusion of skimo as an Olympic event.

Plan B: Business as Unusual – A note from Backcountry’s CEO

Stepping off the skintrack at the base of the Glacier du Chardonnet, I ask the indomitable Gordy Skoog, “What’s Plan B for making the col if the weather socks in?” We are hours into our unguided attempt to ski the Haute Route from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland and also hours behind schedule, far below the crux saddle above the glacier. “I think Plan B is to make it,” Gordy replies, loping past.

Near Russia, With Love: Norway’s Finnmark Alps

You’ve heard of Lyngen and Lofoten. You’ve seen pictures of sailboats bobbing in the Arctic beneath staggering lines that rush to the sea like the Grinch dropping in on Whoville. But go even farther north and there’s a forgotten range that even many Norwegians don’t visit. And for the natives of this place, that’s just fine. No guidebooks, no waypoints. Just local knowledge, a skipper and unlimited access to the prettiest range you’ve never heard of.

Backcountry Magazine CEO Responds to Backcountry.com Lawsuits

This was supposed to be the week we announced our new Backcountry Podcast and prepared for our annual community fundraiser, the Barn Bash, to get more kids on snow. Instead it was spent not sleeping, fielding calls from friends, family, readers, employees and colleagues wondering if we’re being sued by Backcountry.com like so many small […]

The Future Is In Your Hands

In Deep My common answer to “How’s business?” has evolved since we published our first issue of Backcountry Magazine in 2002. Then, when we were a staff of three and had just laid ourselves off in April to go back to banging nails, shooting weddings and waiting tables, it was something like, “We had a […]

My Kit: Seven Essentials for The Sierra High Way

From Tahoe to Tioga Pass and all the way down California’s 395 to Mt. Whitney, it’s been a fat year in the Sierra. After a half decade of dismal snowfall, reservoirs are full again, valleys are green as pastures and most East Side couloirs now have passing lanes, pull-over spots and scenic overlooks. Here’s some of the gear I’ve pulled in after a winter of testing to ski a portion of the Redline Traverse.

Silverton Heli Expansion Approved: Opposition Promises Appeal

Taking some in the San Juan Colo. backcountry community by surprise, a May 3 ruling by the Bureau of Land Management granted Silverton Mountain Guides a five-year Special Recreation Permit for helicopter skiing in the Illinois/Hancock, Minnie/Maggie, Round and Southeast management pods northeast of town. The final decision gives heli access to more than 16,000 […]