Backcountry Cascades Ski Trips
Looking for deep powder and all-you-can-ski first tracks this winter? Alpine Ascents is proud to offer private and custom backcountry ski trips in the picturesque Washington terrain. With growing interest in tailored ski trips out of resort boundaries, our custom and private trips allow skiers and split-boarders to work with our logistics support team to build a unique experience so you can earn your turns exactly the way you want to. Whether you already have an objective in mind, or want to get a taste of your first tour, our team can help get together a plan for a fantastic day in the Washington backcountry!
This program can serve as a companion educational option to the AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course and should not be considered a replacement to the Level 1.
Backcountry Ski Tour Objectives
A customized guided ski program – along with a Level 1 Avalanche Course – is intended to give participants all the necessary skills to travel in simple to challenging backcountry terrain with team members of equal or greater training.
Both our Mount Baker and Mount Rainier venues offer exceptional terrain for new backcountry skiers and snowboarders. With easy access, ample snowfall, and varied terrain they both make for engaging mountain classrooms and serve as springboards to bigger ski tours in the Cascades and beyond. We also offer backcountry ski trips at Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass, and Blewett Pass Washington.
Private Trip Advantages
- Customized itinerary based on your interests and needs
- Expert logistical support
- Ability to tour at your own pace
- Personalized, individual instruction with your guide
Frequently Asked Questions - Intro to Backcountry Touring
You will be emailed specific information for your course upon registration. The following is to serve as a helpful guideline.
Participants don’t need to be advanced skiers or riders, but the more experienced you are at skiing or snowboarding, the more fun you’ll have. Participants should feel very comfortable on blue square runs and be able to get down black diamond runs. Prior experience skiing off-piste (terrain that’s off groomed trails) will pay dividends in the backcountry where snow conditions can vary greatly. You may encounter deep snow, bumps, steep slopes, chutes, and crud in a single run! If you are still working on basic ski techniques, we recommend taking a lesson at a ski resort before venturing out in the backcountry.
Yes! To get the most out of your trip please familiarize yourself with the process of transitioning to and from uphill/downhill travel modes prior to this program. Transitions are often the most challenging part of learning to splitboard.
A pack for a day of backcountry skiing or riding should be no more than 15 pounds. Heavier packs make for more challenging descents in addition to slowing uphill travel
Snow conditions encountered in the average day in the backcountry can range from perfect powder to difficult crust and everything in between. One of the skills we cover is how to identify where skiing and riding conditions are better or worse in the terrain.
We do not expect backcountry tourers to link perfect turns in sun crust – but we do expect you have the downhill movement skills to safely navigate challenging snow conditions with the direction of the instructor/guide.
Yes! One of the fundamental skills of backcountry skiing and snowboarding is being able to move efficiently uphill by having both good uphill movement skills and being able to read terrain to find the easiest way to gain elevation.
As guides we are always passing on tips to make backcountry travel safer and more fun and pointers for downhill travel are no exception. That said it is beyond our ability and the available time for us to teach you to how to ski or snowboard in the backcountry.
One of the key elements of backcountry skiing is being able to identify avalanche terrain versus places where avalanches are nearly impossible (very low angled terrain, ridges, tight trees, etc.). Should conditions warrant a venue change we will discuss other tour options that utilize lower angle terrain. Though our terrain choices are much more limited in times of Considerable or High avalanche hazard, we will still go into the backcountry and work through as much of the course curriculum as conditions allow.
- From Interstate 5, take the Mercer Street Exit and follow the signs to Seattle Center/Space Needle. (A quick right turn onto Fairview Ave., and a quick left turn onto Valley St., which becomes Broad Street.)
- After you pass the Space Needle on your right, make a right turn onto Denny Way.
- Proceed to 1st Ave. North and turn right.
- Proceed to Mercer Street and turn right.
- We are located at 109 West Mercer Street, directly across the street from Bank of America and Next Door to Ozzie’s Tavern.
Street parking is limited to 2-hour zones and parking meters, though there are several pay lots near our offices.
Although tipping is not a requirement it is greatly appreciated. An average tip for this program is $30-$50 per guide per skiier.
Mt. Baker, the highest point of the North Cascades, is a heavily glaciated dormant volcano. The twelve active glaciers of Mt. Baker cover an area exceeding 20 square miles. Mt. Baker is unique in its great mass of snow and ice and easy accessibility. This combination creates a perfect training ground for backcountry skiing and riding.
- Setting the world record for recorded snowfall in a single season (1,140′ in 1999), Mt. Baker remains one of the snowiest spots in the Pacific Northwest and the world, attracting skiers and snowboarders from far and wide.
- The Heather Meadows area offers a plethora of prime ski tours for skiers / riders of all ability levels. From wide bowls, to tight trees, with no shortage of spiny lines, the Baker backcountry is the stuff of legend.
- On a clear day, backcountry travelers can bask in panoramic views of Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker.
Mt. Rainier, is the highest volcano and largest glaciated mountain in the contiguous U.S. This alpine giant is famous for its superior climbing as well as its pristine wilderness. The vast glaciers and alpine ridges of Mount Rainier offer endless stunning backcountry touring options. With the parking at Paradise a lofty 5,400′ above sea level, we are transported right into Rainier’s legendary deep snowpack.
- The Paradise area at Mount Rainier is known for its snowfall which attracts skiers and snowboarders from across the country to its slopes.
- We are one of the few guiding services that is able to operate in Mount Rainier National Park and our guides are deeply familiar with the terrain and the best snow stashes.
- Mount Rainier is one of the most popular ski mountaineering areas in the Cascades – and for good reason. There is abundant snow and huge variety of backcountry and skiing opportunities for those that travel past the parking lot.
Snoqualmie Pass, is located less than an hour from Seattle and offers a convenient escape from the city. A combination of high snowfall, easy accessibility, and desirable slopes and epic couloirs make Snoqualmie Pass one of the best zones in Washington and exceedingly popular with backcountry travelers of all experience levels.
- The roadside ski tours around Snoqualmie Pass and beyond are unusually steep and access excellent terrain. Plus, there are a lot of them! Some have called Snoqualmie Pass one of the densest ski touring areas in the country by pure volume of runs.
Stevens Pass, located 1.5 hours from Seattle, Stevens Pass offers gorgeous scenery and some of the deepest conditions in the Pacific Northwest. From multi peak-objective, tree glades, to deep powder bowls, the Stevens pass area offers over 240 miles of terrain to explore! The variety of terrain and conditions between the pass and moving east towards Leavenworth is second to none!
- With quick approaches right off the road, Stevens Pass offers terrain for any skill set. This is a great place to get your first deep backcountry powder turns, or head for the harder objectives.
I loved this course. The quality of the instruction was absolutely fantastic and I learned a TON! I feel invigorated and ready to tackle more difficult objectives. The guides were top notch. Everyone in the group was eager to soak up as much knowledge from them as possible.