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: How To Become A Better Ski Partner

Trusted partners add life-saving value to a tour, from additional eyes looking for instability to providing wisecracks and nips of whiskey. And while it’s essential to make sure your partner is attuned to you and the mountains, relationships go both ways. Here’s a list of tips and suggestions to help you uphold safety and stoke within your group on your next tour.

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?

Tools of the Trade: When, where and how to use your ice axe, crampons and rope

Jackson, Wyoming-based internationally-certified guide Mike Poborsky has three basic considerations when planning for a day out: Is the mountain going to fall on him? Will he fall into the mountain? Could he fall off the mountain? The first question helps him avoid avalanches, while the second two dictate what he needs for technical gear, like an ice axe, crampons or rope. For those looking to step into steep couloirs, onto exposed faces or around glaciated terrain where a slip could mean falling off or into the mountain, both carrying these tools and knowing how to use them is crucial.

The Art of the Sufferfest: How to make the worst ski days into the best memories

Maybe you’ve watched a few episodes of The Fifty and think Cody Townsend always seems to be having fun. The truth is that he—like most ski mountaineers—probably isn’t, but Townsend has learned that the secret to huge days in the mountains lies in having the right attitude. Though I haven’t been picking my way through the 50 classics (in fact, I generally avoid them), I have had my fair share of sufferfests in the mountains, and there are a few tried-and-true ways to make them less suffer-y.

Travel Wisely: How to safely explore and enjoy the backcountry through a global pandemic

With Covid-19 still spreading across the globe, the only answer to the question, “What happens next?” seems to be “Who knows?” Ski resorts are just one example of a disrupted industry, and while a season with minimal chairlift use might be standard operating procedures for some, a human-powered winter is a brave new world for […]

Mountain Skills: Streamline the Ride

The word efficiency gets used excessively these days. Everything has to be more efficient: cars, computers, factories and, yes, even splitboarders. Over the past several years, splitboard technology has improved exponentially, leaving the door wide open for resort-based snowboarders to access the mountains like never before. Boards are lighter, more durable and more functional, and […]

Mountain Skills: Managing Risk and Responsibility

On February 28, 2014, a Missoula, Mont. snowboarder launched into the Mt. Jumbo backcountry ready to carve perfect turns. Farthest from his mind was triggering a massive avalanche that would decimate two houses, bury three people and kill one. It’s a dramatic example of how someone’s actions in the backcountry can affect others.

Mountain Skills: Set a Plan and Stick to It

You’ve been playing it safe all day. Even though the avalanche bulletin called out “Considerable” hazard for the day (natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered are likely), you haven’t observed any signs of instability while skiing lower angled terrain in the trees. Close to where you’ve been skiing, there’s an untracked slope—and it’s only slightly […]

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