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 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 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 […]


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.

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 […]

Child’s Play: Kid’s AT gear is here, but will Daddy kick down?

Parents have been cobbling together kid’s touring rigs for years. A quick and incomplete modern history of kid’s backcountry gear would certainly start with three-pin bindings, cross-country boots and double-camber skis.

Not For Sale: Arc’teryx/Gore-Tex Pro Demo Jacket

The late bass player Donald “Duck” Dunn had a great line in Blues Brothers: “If the shit fits, wear it.” Never an image guy and, frankly, a tough fit for jackets, I can abide. Enter this sample Arc’teryx/Gore-Tex piece that I picked up at a press event last year in Chamonix. Made of Gore-Tex Pro throughout, it’s like nothing in the Arc’teryx line. Well, aside from its high-quality construction and anatomical cut.

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

At its April conclave in Belek, Turkey, the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee granted provisional recognition to the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF) for the possible inclusion of skimo as an Olympic event: As early as the 2022 Games we could see not just more Spandex and snot but improbably stripped-down AT bindings, backpacks that weigh less than a bra, dental floss harnesses and high-mountain suffering.