Intro to Backcountry Series 2017-2018 Alpine

Track 1: Alpine touring (downmountain)

What is alpine touring? Alpine touring refers to backcountry skiing in mountainous terrain. Also referred to as downmountain backcountry. The uphill portion of a tour is similar to hiking in steep terrain, but with skiis and skins on your feet instead of snowshoes or crampons. Downhill portions are similar to skiing at a ski resort, but with the added difficulty of the trails being ungroomed. Although backcountry downmountain trails do not have ratings like a ski resort (green circle, blue square, black diamond), they do vary in steepness, trail width, and trees, making some trails suitable for intermediate skiers and others only safe for more advanced skiers. Think of alpine ski touring like hiking to the peak of some of your favorite mountains, but with the added benefit of getting to ski back to the trailhead instead of walking!

What gear do I need? Skis similar to what you would use at a downhill ski resort, but with bindings that unlatch at the heel to allow for uphill travel (either Alpine Touring Bindings or Telemark bindings with tour mode). Alpine Touring bindings allow you to latch your heel down for downhill skiing, while telemark bindings leave your heel free to ski downhill using telemark ski technique. Skins are used on the bottom of the ski to provide traction on the uphill portion of the tour and then can be removed for the downhill portion.

In the case of snowboarders, a split board can be used. The split board can be split into two for uphill travel and then connected into a single snowboard for downhill travel. For some of the intro trips, carrying a snowboard on a pack and hiking uphill with snowshoes may be a suitable alternative to a split board if the participant is experienced in snowshoe travel.

If you want to try out alpine touring, skis and boots for alpine, telemark, and splitboard touring can be rented from Village Ski and Sports in Lincoln NH or EMS in N Conway NH.

What ski experience should I have? At a minimum, skiers and snowboarders should be very comfortable skiing blue square and able to ski black diamond runs at ski resorts. If you are using telemark ski equipment, you should be able to ski tele at this same level.

How do I get started? The intro to alpine touring track consists of multiple individual trips. Each trip is a self-contained one-day event, so no need to sign up for the entire series, pick and choose the classes that you are interested in and that will benefit you the most. If you are interested in the entire series, kudos to you! You can also spread it over multiple ski seasons. The series is intended to gradually build your skiing skills from easy tours that will allow you test out your equipment, get used to skinning, and practicing transitions from uphill to downhill through to longer, steeper, and more exposed ascents and descents. Sign up for each trip individually through the trip leader.


AMC Ski Trips

Intro - test out the equipment, get used to skinning, and practice transitioning from uphill to downhill

New Hampshire Winter School - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED register for downmountain (advanced) course - weekend of 20 Jan OR 24 Feb

NOTE: The intro and intermediate ski programs at winter school are for XC style skiing. For alpine touring, select the advanced ski program (downmountain)

Weeknight Intro to Backcountry, Skins (5 weeks)

Mon, starting 15 Jan, Lebanon, NH

Valerio Viti

Resort to Backcountry Ski with She-Jumps

27 Jan, Mt Cardigan NH

Margaret Brumsted

Cog Railway

28 Jan, Bretton Woods NH

Erik Endrulat


10 Feb, Bretton Woods NH

Becca Monroe

Young Members Intro to Backcountry

11 Feb, Mt Cardigan NH

Valerio Viti

Intermediate - try out steeper terrain, build your uphill endurance


13 Jan, Cannon

Brian Galluzzo


Moosilauke Carriage Road

25 Feb, Warren NH

Erik Endrulat

Monroe Brook Slide

04 Mar, Bretton Woods

Paul Pinkham

Steeple Trail

11 Mar, Stowe VT

Katherine Calver

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