Backcountry Skiing/Snowboarding

Earn your turns between nunataks and glaciers on a backountry ski tour through the Coastal Mountain Range surrounding Haines and Skagway, Alaska.

Trip Photos

  • Enjoying a sunny day up on the Davidson Glacier Enjoying a sunny day up on the Davidson Glacier
  • Ski plane 53 Charlie after dropping off a group outside of Haines, AK Ski plane 53 Charlie after dropping off a group outside of Haines, AK
  • Sunset from 4,000' from glacier camp Sunset from 4,000' from glacier camp
  • Steep skiing on coliours across the border in Canada Steep skiing on coliours across the border in Canada
  • Dropping off on the glacier for a day of skiing by ski plane Dropping off on the glacier for a day of skiing by ski plane
  • Tagging the summit before a spring skiing descent Tagging the summit before a spring skiing descent
  • Moving camp up through an icefall outside of Haines Moving camp up through an icefall outside of Haines
  • Early April skiing outside of Haines, AK Early April skiing outside of Haines, AK
     

Trip Notes

Location: Alaska/Yukon
Meeting Point: Haines, AK
Destination: Haines, Alaska
Duration: 1, 3, 5, 7 days
Price: $195, $690, $1150, $1550 (+ tax, in USD)
Activity Type: Skiing/Snowboarding
Season: March, April, May, June
Guide to Guest Ratio: 1 to 5
Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5
Paperwork Required: Registration, Health Form, Risk Acknowledgment

Related Trips:

Trip Description

Earn your turns between nunataks and glaciers on a backountry ski tour through the Coastal Mountain Range surrounding Haines and Skagway, Alaska.

Our location on the border of Glacier Bay National Park and the Wrangell St Elias Mountains – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and home to the largest non-polar icefield in the world – serves as a fantastic base for unbelievable backcountry ski programs.. There are limitless options for incredible skiing, ski mountaineering, and touring from February through August!

Access glaciers, ice caps, and sweeping mountain valleys via bush-plane for a uniquely Alaskan ski-tour experience.. The terrain is uniquely suited to ski-mountaineering objectives that combine classic climbing ascents with phenomenal ski descents. These programs are open to individuals of all abilities. If you have not been backcountry skiing before this is a great place for a first experience! The three and five day trips include a skills review covering relevant subjects such as avalanche awareness, use of avalanche transceivers, route finding, crampon and ice axe use, rope team management and more. Our low guide to guest ratios give us the freedom to accommodate individual goals and expectations. Custom trips and private guiding are available. Visit us for a backcountry ski trip you won’t forget!

HAINES: Haines, Alaska is the starting/finishing place for this trip. Haines is a small community located along the majestic fjords at the top of the Inside Passage. The natural beauty and wilderness access in Haines has given it the much-deserved reputation as “the epicenter for wilderness adventure in Alaska”.

WORLD-CLASS SKIING: It’s no wonder that so many ski flicks are filmed here; skiing Alaska deserves top slot on any skier’s bucket list. Home to the Freeride World Tour for several years, there are few places comparable to the terrain accessible by skis, plane, or helicopter in Southeast Alaska.

PLANE SUPPORTED: Take a snow-adapted bushplane into the heart of the wilderness as part of our plane-supported programs. Access territory that few have ever seen – much less skied!

GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK: We are proud to base our operations in Haines, which borders Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. This unique park is located in southeast Alaska and includes some of the wildest and most spectacular fjords and glaciated terrain in the world. As a unique marine wilderness, Glacier Bay Nation Park provides countless adventures and stunning views of glaciers, wildlife, and majestic maritime and mountain scenery. Glacier Bay National Park and the adjacent 27 million acres, including Wrangell-St Elias National Park, comprise the largest protected wilderness area on the planet. It is an extremely jagged, glaciated, mountain landscape. This terrain is truly world class!

OUR GUIDES: Alaska Mountain Guides & Climbing School Inc. instructors and guides are professionals. They have a wealth of experience from guiding throughout Alaska and the world and they genuinely enjoy sharing their knowledge. Their skills and positive attitudes help our guests to have the best possible experience during their trip. Your safety and enjoyment are their primary goals.

Day 0: Meet in Haines for a pre-trip orientation, the evening prior to your departure. After a brief meet-and-greet with your instructors and fellow guests, we will discuss the course, your goals and expectations. Lodging and meals on your own.

Day 1: We’ll transport to the mountains via ski plane if requested – depending on weather, climbing conditions, and available access – or 4×4 accessible vehicle . Once at our location, we will set up base camp among a few of our ski-able objectives. The terrain is uniquely suited to backcountry skiing objectives with a variety of terrain to choose, from open undulating bowls, steep chutes and alpine faces.

Days 2 – 6: Each day will begin with the guides greeting you with hot drinks and a hearty breakfast.
Throughout the day, we will focus on developing skills associated with ski touring and snow safety associated with skiing big backcountry objectives. The group will tackle challenging hikes and incredible lines in some of the most remote landscape in Alaska. If the weather is not favorable to skiing, we may enjoy downtime in the cook tent, learn about snow rescue techniques, equipment maintenance, or snow science.
Return to camp for a hot dinner and snuggle into your tents to rest up for the next day’s adventures!

Day 7: Back to Haines.

How good of a skier or snowboarder do I need to be to enjoy backcountry skiing?
You should be able to consistently ski or ride down single black diamond terrain at most ski areas in variable conditions without falling.

What type of terrain will we be skiing?
The type of terrain will vary depending primarily on avalanche conditions and surface snow quality. There are many great low to moderate angle runs that offer incredible powder skiing. If avalanche conditions are more stable, there are an abundance of steeper lines that we may explore as well. Our guides are adept at finding the best skiing for the current conditions.

What will the snow be like?
Our vast terrain options give us flexibility to find the best snow conditions possible. The conditions can vary considerably on a single run from dry blower powder for the 1st 1,000’ to potential for more spring like conditions at lower elevations. Typically March and the 1st half of April has great powder skiing. As we approach the latter half of April, spring conditions begin to set in at lower elevations.

What do we do on poor weather days?
Generally, we’ll wake up every morning, ready to ski. After assessing the weather, we may consider reversing slightly from our state of readiness depending on the weather. If plane-supported, and conditions are not optimal for flying, we may consider ski-touring on the highway-accessible terrain on Haines Pass until flights into the backcountry are an option. Guests should be prepared with their passport, as we would pass through both Canadian and US Customs to ski in this area.
If we are at basecamp and the conditions are less than ideal, we may spend time around the camp learning about snow pack, rescue techniques, and ski equipment.

What is the lodging in Haines?
Generally, guests will stay at the Aspen Suites Hotel. Bookings are based on room availability. If for any reason this location is full, we utilize one of the other centrally-located, great accommodations in Haines. Most accommodations are within walking distance to grocery stores, restaurants, bars and coffee shops in town.

Where will we be sleeping during the course?
We will be based in the backcountry, and will establish a basecamp from which we can access the wondrous ski terrain located outside Haines, Alaska. Alaska Mountain Guides provides tents, cooking equipment, etc., and has equipment such as sleeping bags for rent.

What type of safety gear is required? What type of safety gear is provided?
Alaska Mountain Guides provides an avalanche probe, snow shovel, and avalanche beacon for all guests. We require both our guests and our guides to have these items on them while skiing/riding. If you have your own, feel free to bring them along.

What does the safety briefing look like?
Before heading to the backcountry, we’ll go over safe-skiing technique, use of avalanche beacons, communications while in the mountains, and basic rescue skills, such as probing and shoveling.

What will we have for lunch during the day? Can you handle special dietary needs?
Typically we’ll pack a lunch for everyone that they can fit easily in their backpack. This usually includes a bagel sandwich, piece of fruit, and a variety of snack items to munch on throughout the day. We may end up eating lunch as a rest stop to our target line, or on the top of a ridge on a beautiful day.
We can happily accommodate a reasonable amount of dietary restrictions, such as gluten free or diary-free. Please let us know any restrictions before arrival.

What is the group size like?
Your group size may be as small as 3, and may be as large as 8 skiers and 2 guides. We always strive to have at least 2 guides with the group when skiing. We are happy to arrange for smaller or larger groups on a custom basis.

How difficult will this trip be? What physical fitness level do I need for this trip?
Ski touring requires strong legs and a healthy amount of cardio exertion. We could be hiking up several miles, and skiing back down that same distance, all within a few hours. Ski touring can require a person to be physically active for up to 5-8 hours each day. In addition to skiing, you can expect to carry a pack that can weigh up to 25 lbs, holding personal gear, safety and rescue equipment, as well as extra food and water for the day. We can recommend a fitness plan to help you prepare for the trip.

Trip Documents:
  • Trip Overview – Printable overview of trip logistics.
  • Equipment List – Overview of personal clothing and equipment that you’ll need for this trip.
  • Rental Gear List – List of Backcountry skiing gear, and personal items available for rent
  • Registration Form  – Outlines policies, and essential information.  One required per participant.
  • Health Form – This form enables our guides to have accurate health information in the event of an emergency.
  • Land Based Activity Waiver  – One required per participant over the age of 18.
  • Travel Info – Haines – Helpful information on how to get to/from Haines, Alaska.

Price: $195, $690, $1150, $1550 (+ tax, in USD)
2018 Dates: Sundays March 1 - June 30
2019 Dates: Sundays March 1 - June 30

What is included in the trip price:
  • Group gear – tents, stoves, etc.
  • Required gear – avalanche beacons, probes, shovels.
  • Expedition food – all food while out in the field
  • Transportation during trip – travel to airport (if plane-supported), vehicle-accessed ski terrain, to and from lodging.
  • Professional guides – Our guides have extensive knowledge of the area and a passion for skiing in wild places.
Guests are responsible for the following:
  • Personal clothing & equipment – review the equipment list included under “Documents”
  • Food & Lodging in town – Haines boasts a diverse selection of quality food options
  • Trip insurance – we highly recommend trip insurance for all of our programs
  • Airfare – review the “Travel Information” under “Documents” for more details
  • Reviewing trip policies – please reference our policies page for policies regarding payment, cancellations, refunds and guest responsibilities.
  • Gratuities
To Book your adventure, follow the steps below:
  1. Please call to confirm availability at 1-800-766-3396 or fill out an online form to request more information via this link:
  2. Place a $250 deposit to reserve your spot: this can be place over the phone by credit card, check in the mail, or through our payment gateway.
  3. Once you’ve reserved your spot, you’ll receive a welcome packet with all the necessary registration forms and trip information.
  4. We kindly ask that you submit all of the necessary trip registration information at least 45 days prior to your trip.

Feel free to call or email anytime if you have questions about your upcoming trip. Our team is excited to help you prepare for your adventure!

Guest Comments:

Dear Darsie and Courtney, Just dropping you a line to say thanks again for leading such and awesome trip. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime, and I’ll never forget it. You both did a great job making the trip enjoyable, exciting, and unforgettable. Thanks for introducing me to the world of ski mountaineering.
- Jenny H.