What does the perfect ski tour look like to you? Chasing corn in 50-degree couloirs in the springtime? Sweet sweet deep winter powder shots in alpine bowls? 3 days of hut-to-hut trips hanging with the crew?
The word “Perfection” is subjective but we are all chasing that ideal ski tour. Planning is the best tool we have to make sure our adventures are as close to perfect as possible. Below are a few tips you can use when planning your next adventure.
First, figure out the objective of your tour. Miles? Vert? A chill time for a first-timer? Having a purpose or goal for your tour, even if it’s just “to go skiing,” will help you start to plan.
Second, find the snow. I like to pick my skiing location based on my goals for the day and the current weather patterns. Use resources like NOAA and windy.com to look at the current trends and decide where the best snow will be. Think about the time of year, wind patterns, temperature, slope aspect, vegetation coverage, snow depths, and current storm cycles to figure out what slopes will be holding the most snow.
Third, check the Avalanche bulletin. Figure out where the risk is and decide what terrain you are going to stay away from for the day and what terrain will be safe to send. If you aren’t familiar with avalanche terrain and want to learn what it takes to safely travel the backcountry in winter, check out our avalanche education courses to learn more ( https://coloradowildernessridesandguides.com/education-training/aiare-avalanche-education/ ).
Fourth choose your path. Now that you generally know what you want to ski, and where the good snow will be, you can choose your lines. I like to use a combination of resources like Caltopo, Gaia GPS, and Google Earth when picking specific locations. These resources let you scope out terrain and plan your approach and descents in extreme detail. Adventure around in Google earth enough and maybe you’ll discover some secret lines in your favorite area that you’ve never seen before! Map out those lines to take with you into the field. If you don’t want to hunt down your own lines, you can use resources like guide books or online free resources. Look for recent trip reports to get the most up-to-date information on the location you are hoping to ski.
Fifth, snacks! Unless you are going for a fitness day, and are trying to stay fast and light, snacks, and hot drinks can put the cherry on top of a great ski day. My friends always love when I pull out tasty treats at the top of the mountain and a warm cup of coffee, tea, or your hot drink of preference. Snacks and hot drinks keep you warm, comfortable, and full of energy to shred some pow on the ride down.
Finally, send all your friends your perfectly planned trip and get them stoked to join you!