Ski Mountaineering: the discipline of climbing and descending mountains with the use of skis. Often, using the methods and tools of more traditional mountain climbing. Some of these tools include: Crampons, Ice Axe, Harness and rope. Some of the methods include repelling and belaying as well as technical alpine climbing techniques. But ski mountaineering also includes technical descents. Technical descents include: Belayed skiing, rappels (with and without skis), and definitely Steep and often exposed skiing.
WHY SKI MOUNTAINEERING?
This is a very personal question, for which I assume there are many different answers. For me, it is mostly about the position and perspective.
Getting to the top of a specific peak or descending by and aesthetic or challenging line, taking in the views, testing your skills and meeting personal challenges. These are just some of the reasons people pursue the art of ski mountaineering.
WHY BOOK WITH ITCOG?
This is our home, we ski here almost every day in a good winter. We work with a bunch of very knowledgeable and experienced guides. We are in the terrain and talking about conditions with other professional guides and forecasters every day. Very few have the intimate, and enduring relationship with the Wasatch mountains as we do.
Not only do we know the terrain, we have the proven skills to keep you safe while achieving your goals. As Certified Ski Mountaineering Guides we were tested by our professional mentors and peers on the knowledge and skills required to guide in this terrain. We are all skiers of the highest caliber and have proven these skills with big technical ski descents here in the Wasatch and around the world. Most of all we love this stuff! This is what inspires us most of all. We love to explore, and to ski the classics!
WASATCH CLASSIC DECENTS
Here in the Wasatch we have some very classic ski descents, including four entries into Chris Davenports coffee table best seller “Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America”, and made more famous by the documentary “The Fifty” staring Cody Townsend. These four classics: Mount Superior’s South Face, Thunder Ridge’s Hypodermic Needle, Mount Timpanogos’s Cold Fusion and Mount Tukuhnikivatz in the La Sals, are the Utah four to make the cut.
Andrew Mclean’s “the Chuting Gallery” is another well known tic list of Wasatch ski mountaineering. His book includes some of our favorites like: The Pfifferhorns NW couloir, The East couloir on Kessler and Monte Cristo’s Edge of the World to Directissimo. We’ve guided many and done most (Some are rarely in condition).
WHO CAN TRY SKI MOUNTAINEERING?
Any advanced to expert skiers who enjoys steep challenging skiing. All objectives are not the same as far as danger, but any steep objective has potential consequences. You should be a confident skier, able to make consistent controlled turns in all Black and Double Black Diamond terrain in Western ski resorts.
While not imperative on some objectives and in some conditions, a bit of experience backcountry skiing is important for safety and efficiency. Knowing how to use your touring gear, and familiarity with beacons and rescue gear is super helpful, so the focus can be on accomplishing the objective. Basic knowledge is required in some conditions.
If you don’t know this stuff, that fine. Let’s just add in a day of training. You won’t be sad you did!
Many of these more committing, bigger objectives are priced differently than our normal ski touring. We think of this as a kind of hazard pay. You can Ski Mountaineer the Wasatch!
- Trip Outline
- Gear List
What To Expect
- Your guide will contact you no later than the evening before your trip to discuss the days plans.
- For a full day of skiing, plan on 8+ hours out. Bigger objectives can take between 10 and 12 hours.
- A typical day: Guides will meet clients in one of the Park and Ride parking lots.
- From the meeting area (guides will tell you where) you will go up one of the canyons together in the client
vehicle or public transportation.
- *please note, because of insurance reasons we are not able to transport clients in guide
Before you head out
- The guide will do a verbal gear check and confirm that waivers have been signed.
- -The guide will inform you what to do incase of emergency
- -The guide will give you an overview of the day with estimated completion time.
- You day will usually end where your day began (at one of the parking lots or at your lodge)
Directions to parking areas where we often meet-
- Big Cottonwood Canyon Park and Ride Main
- Big Cottonwood Canyon Park and Ride Overflow
Pricing NameStartEndGroup (Min-Max)Pricing
Ski and Technical Gear
Skis With Alpine Touring bindings: We recommend a Touring Specificwith a waist between 102cm and 116. Skis should be equipped with touring binding, preferably tech style bindings.
Ski Poles: We recommend an adjustable pole with extended grip
Climbing Skins: Skins need to be in good condition and cut to fit your ski.
Ski Touring Boot: Boots need to be compatible with your bindings. Boots must have a walk mode.
Ski Crampons: Ski Crampons must be compatible with you bindings and ski waist width.
Boot Crampons: We highly recommend aluminum crampons. Make sure they work with your ski boots
Harness: Harness must fit over ski clothing, be light weight and in good condition. You should also have 2 locking carabiners and a belay device.
Ice Axe: Ice Axe needs to be light weight and short (Less than 55cm)
Ski Backpack: A good ski pack should be light weight and have a dedicated pocket for your avalanche rescue gear and be between 35-50 liters.
Avalanche Rescue Gear: You will need a shovel and probe. The Shovel should have an extendable handle, an aluminum blade and fit into you pack without sticking out. Make sure your probe is in working order.
Avalacche Beacon: Your beacon should be a modern digital beacon. Come with new batteries in your beacon as well as one extra set.
Ski Helmet: While we don’t require you to ski with a helmet we do highly recommend it.
In The Company of Guides
Wasatch Backcountry Ski
Gear List Clothing
Beanie: You might want to bring 2 just incase. We recommend one light and one medium weight Beanie.
Buff/Neck Gaiter: We recommend a lightweight buf as it has many uses.
Goggles: We really like goggles with changeable lenses for use in bright and low light. They should also be compatible with your helmet.
Sun Glasses: Even if you always prefer to ski in goggles, sun glasses are needed for the up. Goggles will get fogged with sweat.
Warm Gloves: How warm depends on you. We recommend a durable well fitting ski glove. Light Gloves: lighter weight gloves are recommended for hiking up to reduce sweating. Upper Body
Hard Shell Jacket: Waterproof/breathable jacket with ventilation.
Light Insulating Jacket: Breathable light insulating jacket.
Mid to Heavy Insulating Jacket: Temps can be cold, You will be happy for a nice warm jacket. Top Base Layer: We really like sun hoodies to check this box.
Ski Pants: We recommend a light option or a more waterproof option.
Bottom Base Layer: We prefer a light pair of bottoms.
Ski Boots: Also listed above under technical gear.
Ski Socks: We prefer light weight socks
In The Company of Guides
Wasatch Backcountry Ski
Gear List Personal Items
Sunscreen: 50 spf or greater. Make sure your tube is not old as sunscreen can loose it’s effectiveness over time
Lip Screen: Make sure it has spf
Small First Aid Kit: This should contain blister repair material, over the counter pain killers and a few bandaids. We will have a full sized med kit on the boat as well as field kits with the guides.
Personal toiletries: Toothbrush, Paste, razor, Shampoo and soap etc.
Towel: For your Shower