Maybe you’ve seen remnants of their activities? You arrive at the resort well before opening so you can snag first chair and notice that someone has already scored first tracks. Or maybe you were out snowshoeing and noticed the distinctive swooshes through the snow left by someone who was obviously traveling on skis. Over the last few years backcountry skiing has been exploding here in the United States, and Vermont happens to be the epicenter of backcountry activity here on the East Coast.
Here at the Catamount Trail Association we’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about backcountry skiing, and more specifically, our relationship to backcountry skiers. Over the past few years backcountry ski equipment has developed and progressed and now offers more control, comfort and safety than ever before. In addition, more and more manufacturers are offering backcountry friendly equipment. Due to both of these trends, the number of people looking to take the path less traveled has increased dramatically in recent times.
Now the phrase backcountry skiing can be a little misleading. Misleading, not because it describes something inaccurately, but because the term encompasses so many different modes of travel. Here at the Catamount Trail Association our primary focus is on backcountry touring. This differs slightly from the skin up/ski down crowd in that we are typically going somewhere. But, lets not get bogged down in semantics. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to explore lower angle terrain on lightweight gear, or use telemark or alpine touring equipment to seek out the gnarliest terrain you can find… Every backcountry skier needs to start someplace.
Helping people get started has been a focus of ours for some time now. 2014 will mark the 6th anniversary of both the Ladies Nordic Ski Expo and our Get Out & Backcountry Ski Festival. The Ladies Nordic Ski Expo is a women-only nordic and backcountry skiing instructional event taking place at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe on Saturday, Jaunary 11th. The Get Out & Backcountry Ski Festival is a backcountry ski instructional event happening at Bolton Valley Resort on Sunday, January 26th. The GOBSF is geared towards all types of backcountry travel including nordic touring, telemark and alpine touring.
For the person wanting to get into backcountry skiing, a backcountry ski festival is a great place to start. At one of these events you can try out different types of equipment and receive basic instruction. You will also get to meet other people with similar interests and see the different types of equipment other backcountry skiers are using. But participating in a class and taking those first strides out of bounds is just the beginning. Most people aren’t ready to hit the woods on their own after a single day of instruction, and this is the area where we are making an effort to plug some holes.
We want to connect skiers with opportunities to get out and explore Vermont. It should be easy for new skiers to get involved, and we have made a concerted effort this year to identify tours that would be appropriate for new or beginning backcountry skiers. The Catamount Trail is 300 miles long and with so many tours there are plenty of options that would allow a new skier to get outside, get comfortable, and continue developing their skills.
Here on the Catamount Trail Association website we have identified and highlighted a variety of tours that are appropriate for the developing backcountry skier. We have also spoken with our tour leaders and they are thrilled and excited to be able to share their know-how and to help individuals new to the sport get outside and explore the woods.
Here at the Catamount Trail Association our goal is to get as many people as possible outside and having fun on skis during the winter. Never been on skis? Check out one of our instructional festivals. Been out a couple of times but still lacking confidence in your skills? Take a look at one of our Introductory Tours. Have skills and looking to explore? One of our multi-day tours might be just what you’re looking for. Tired of skiing in Vermont? Then get out of here and explore out Maine or New Hampshire on one of our Northeast Hut Tours. Just want to hike up something so you can ski down it? We’ve got that too.
No matter where you fall within the backcountry skiing spectrum… The Catamount Trail Association has you covered. For additional information please give us a call or continue exploring our website!