Earn Your Interns

To get their boots in the door, aspiring backcountry professionals look to mentorship, observation and a season or three spent hauling gear, shadowing classes and following in the tracks of others.

All-Day Warmth: New and advanced synthetics offer lighter weights and breathability

Skinning is typically a sweaty affair where a lightweight baselayer and a thin shell will most often suffice. But some days—when the tempo is slow, the wind is blowing or the temperature hovers around zero—require a little extra warmth. Insulation-makers have honed in on this need, introducing new synthetics meant to offer warmth and exceptional breathability. These layers, intended for all-day wear, are soft to the hand and stretchy with a sweatshirt-like feel. But they’re also among the most technical pieces of insulation out there.

Deep Threads: Eight essentials for powder-day touring

Ultrawide skis and swallowtail boards draw all the hype surrounding deep-snow gear. But a day breaking trail through waist-deep fluff requires more than just floaty tools underfoot. Fresh and falling snow can make an ill-prepared skier a soggy mess, and turning back early due to wetness and cold is even more lame than doing it because of foggy goggles.

Fanfare: Scott and Alpride take the avalanche airbag to a futuristic level

The inner workings of Scott’s new supercapacitor-powered avalanche airbag sound like something out of Back to the Future. And while the Backcountry Patrol AP 30 doesn’t have the time-travel capabilities of Dr. Emmett Brown’s DeLorean (thanks to its flux capacitor), this pack is more travel-capable than many airbags.

Tom Murphy, Karl Klassen & Jean Pavillard: American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Founders

Today, the acronym AIARE (“airy”) is practically a proprietary eponym—like Kleenex or Spandex—for an avalanche courses. Less than two decades ago, however, there was very little that was standard in American avalanche education. Tom Murphy, Karl Klassen and Jean Pavillard would change that.

Margaret Wheeler: America’s Second Female IFMGA Guide

As of 2016, women accounted for roughly 11 percent of those certified through the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). It’s a strikingly small percentage, but one that, through the efforts of Margaret Wheeler, is showing promise of an uptick.

Ed & Dolores LaChapelle: Prolific Authors and Avalanche Avant-Garde

As Ed delved into a life deep in snow science and innovation, Dolores, a lifelong mountaineer, forged ahead in her own right. She’d grown up in Denver, had stood atop all of Colorado’s 14,000-foot summits by age 20 and had joined Ed in Davos, Switzerland before the pair had settled in Alta. There, she’d claimed the first descent of Baldy Chute in 1956.

Montgomery Atwater: Father of U.S. Avalanche Work

Early in life, Montgomery Atwater’s aspirations weren’t to work with snow and avalanches. In fact, after graduating from Harvard in 1926 with a degree in English literature, the Oregon native began writing works of nonfiction. But World War II brought Atwater, who went by the nickname Monty, to Colorado’s Camp Hale where he’d join the 10th Mountain Division.

Get The Gear: Five essentials to get you to the skintrack

To help first-timers ascend and descend with ease, we’ve put together some gear selects that aid in making strides in the backcountry.

Evan Stevens’s Shared Knowledge

Internationally certified guide Evan Stevens, 40, is no stranger to academia. His interest in working in the mountains started with his undergraduate education, where he studied cartography and geographic information systems with a focus on avalanche science. He then applied his degree while working for five years with the Utah Avalanche Center before moving to British Columbia, where he now guides, teaches and oversees ACMG courses and exams.

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