The Deadliest Winter: A Look Back at the 2020/21 Season

With 37 avalanche fatalities recorded in the U.S. during winter 2020/21, the season stands as the deadliest in modern history. Here’s what we can learn from a devastating year.

An Ode to Rock Skis

My favorite skis right now, the first pair I’ll reach for this season and those that I’ll keep going back to for much of the winter, didn’t win an Editors’ Choice Award. You won’t find them in a Gear Guide or at your local shop. Even if you did, I doubt you’d consider spending the money. Because they’re 10 years old; an original pair of rocket-red Voilé Chargers. They’re my rock skis.

40 Tribes: Backcountry Riding in Kyrgyzstan

In this interview from 2014, we talk with Ryan Koupal, who first visited the China/Kyrgyzstan border in 1999 and was deeply intrigued by the rugged, remote Tien Shan Mountains. So, after graduating in 2003 with a degree in Mandarin Chinese from Middlebury College, he returned to the Tien Shan while leading programs for Where There Be Dragons, a study-abroad program for high school and college students.

Make it Count: How to get the most out of travel

There’s a difference between a vacation and a trip. Vacations are stress-free, feet-up affairs spent sipping cocktails in luxury’s lap. Trips are relaxing in a high-paced, flow-state way, filled with activity and energy, often leaving one begging for a vacation by the end. Resort skiers go on vacations to carve corduroy and eat filet; backcountry skiers go on trips to find adventure. And while the latter is easily more rewarding, earning those rewards takes proper planning and preparation. Here’s how to maximize a trip for all it’s worth.

My Dog is the Worst Ski Partner

Following Michael Ferrara’s nonscientific study into people’s opinions on dogs in the backcountry, Tyler Cohen offers his rationale for why his border collie might not be the best ski partner. Cohen says Niva would be the most annoying of all skier types, the bro who won’t stop spewing stoke.

Higher Learning: The nuances of how, when, where and why to take a course

Choosing an avalanche course—whether a higher-level one or something to refresh your rescue skills—doesn’t have to be a hard decision. You just have to know what you want.

Mountain Skills: Planning a trip to an offbeat location requires more than Google

Chamonix. Hokkaido. Portillo. Certain locations are synonymous with international ski travel, meaning resources for trip planning are as plentiful as some places can be crowded. But what about planning a trip to Kosciusko, Aoraki, Vielha or some other little-spoken-of locale with limited beta, few available maps or no guidebooks? Where do you start?

Powder Magazine shuts down after 49 years in print

I’ve written and edited many obituaries in my tenure as an editor at Backcountry and now as editorial director at Height of Land Publications. It’s part of the job, covering outdoor adventure sports. But the last year or so has marked an odd shift in the pieces we write in memoriam. Last August, two competing […]

How to get the most out of gear

There’s no denying it—backcountry gear is expensive. And while touring may offer freedom from purchasing lift tickets or a season’s pass, the cost of a new setup can quickly creep well above $2,000, which isn’t an annual line item in many a skier’s budget.

Gearbox: The Finer Points of La Sportiva’s Skorpius CR

There’s an old K2 Telemark poster of a skier doing an inverted grab with the tagline: “Take something hard, make it harder, then make it look easy.” Surely that poster wasn’t on the minds of La Sportiva’s designers when developing the new Skorpius CR. But the boot pulls off complex engineering with such simple and […]