Don't Try This At Home

Five for the Experts
By Alison Gannett

Rogers Pass, British Columbia
This is one of the most accessible backcountry areas in the world, with the deepest, most reliable powder. Get a cheap room at the top of the pass and tour each day to a new area. Skins and touring equipment needed—and don't forget to check the avalanche hotline!

Valdez, Alaska, Chugach Mountains
Take a ski plane into "The Bookends," a glacial cirque surrounded by 45- to 50-degree 1,000-foot ramps. Make base camp for a week and hike up a different face each day. Snowshoe platters will be needed, as will a backup plan in case the plane gets weathered out and can't get in to collect you. Basically, pack plenty of fuel and don't go if the weather looks bad.

Teton Pass, Wyoming
This is where the locals flock when Jackson Hole is tracked out. Its relatively short bootbacks yield thousands of feet of radical terrain sloping back to civilization. No need for skins or cross-country gear, just the regular transceiver, probe, and shovel. Accessibility does not equal safety, though, so you'll need to check the avalanche report and know your stuff.

Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons, Utah
Between Alta and Deer Valley are endless powder fields, cliffs, chutes, and bowls. Use the lifts to get started or skin up the many visible routes. A quick tour up Little Cottonwood provides a long ride down to Big Cottonwood: Do multiple laps and arrive back at your car, or tour from one ski area to another. Call the avalanche hotline and carry all the appropriate backcountry gear.

Mount Shasta, California
This is one monster peak to hike and ski in the spring, with multiple routes ranging from challenging to extreme. Guided tours are available. Bring an ice axe, crampons, skins, and touring gear. Also check with the local mountaineering store in Shasta for conditions, weather, routes, and maps; the whole enterprise can yield an 8,000-foot ski when conditions are prime.

Alison Gannett: Alison strives to tackle those things people say she shouldn't. A World Champion big mountain skier and travel addict, she also dabbles in green home consulting, ethno-botany, 24-hour solo mountain bike racing, yoga, surfing, women's steep-ski camps, and writing. She skis and works from her self-built Victorian straw home in Crested Butte, Colorado, with her cat, Terra, who has not yet blown down the house.

Published: 16 Dec 2002 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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