It’s the Winter of Backcountry. Here’s How to Start Safely.

Just an hour from Seattle lies Snoqualmie Pass, home to several ski areas and vast backcountry skiing terrain. The ski tour to Pineapple Pass is a classic for its quality terrain and gorgeous setting. Starting from the parking lot of the Alpental Ski Area, you ski up following the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River into Pineapple Basin. The basin is ringed by the thousand-foot walls of Bryant Peak, Hemlock Peak and the Tooth. It is a spectacular landscape.

After skinning up Pineapple Pass (the upper section can be wind loaded and avalanche-prone), there are views to the south of the massive profile of Mount Rainier. The scenery is rewarding enough, but another highlight awaits on the 1,800-vertical foot ski descent back the way that you came. “The ski touring is moderate but the terrain is spectacular,” said Mr. Volken. There are many options for expanding the tour to venture further into this dramatic mountainscape. Pro Guiding Service offers tours. — D. G.

WYOMING/IDAHO

Teton Pass is a good option for relative beginners to backcountry skiing and riding, and is accessible as a day trip from Jackson Hole, according to Thomas Turiano, the author of the “Teton Pass Backcountry Guide” and, “Jackson Hole Backcountry Skier’s Guide: South.

“Teton Pass has a lot of moderate terrain that is 25 degrees or less,” he said. But, he cautioned, there are usually a lot of tracks going every which way, and a skier shouldn’t assume they are safe and follow them. “You do have to be selective. You want to stay on the ridges and out of the gullies and off the steep faces,” he said.

While Teton Pass usually has great snow, it doesn’t have enough parking for the number of users, so it fills up quickly. There is talk of a permit system, which could go into effect next year.

For guiding companies, Mr. Turiano recommended Exum Mountain Guides, in Moose, the Mountain Guides in Jackson Hole, and Teton Backcountry Guides, just across the state line in Driggs, Idaho.

Teton Backcountry Guides owns four yurts that are available for winter use. The company will rent them without guides to experienced parties, or, for $1,200 per person, it offers three-day, two-night trips for all levels of skiing and riding that includes two guides for up to six guests, catered meals and porters to carry all the food. — K.S.

Source link