7 Incredible Backcountry Spots Every Skier Should Ride Once In Their Lifetime
Fancy no crowds and fresh powder? Here's where you need to go...
For many skiers and snowboarders, venturing off into the backcountry is the ultimate goal.
Carving down untouched powder faces, tackling towering spines and deep couloirs, getting away from the crowds on piste and hiking off into the distance are all part of the fun.
If you've never had any experience in the backcountry, we recommend that you go with a guide. It's a good idea to be a fairly advanced skier or snowboarder before you book on.
Make sure you go on an avalanche awareness course before hand and always take your avalanche kit with you, including transceiver, probe and shovel.
So, where are the best places in the world to discover the backcountry? We've listed a few spots you need to visit before you die...
It's every backcountry skier and snowboarder's dream to explore Alaska.
Mammoth ridges, stunning views and endless kilometres of powder, the landscape looks like something out of a Teton Gravity Research movie.
Alaska has got some of the most vast array of accessible backcountry riding on the planet. Only a tiny percentage of Alaska has been explored, which makes it all the more enticing.
When I say accessible, it's mainly by helicopter but you can explore the Valdez Chugach Mountains on foot. You just need touring skis/splitboard, a car and a guide.
You can have stunning bluebird days, carving down a perfect powder run. You can also be holed up in a tent for four days during gale force storms. That's Alaska for you.
What better place to explore the furthest reaches of the planet than Antarctica?
It costs a lot of money to get to Antarctica. The crossing isn't easy, particularly if you go by boat.
However once you get there, you realise you are riding the most remote terrain on earth.
You can ski tour around the area, climb mountains, spot penguins and orcas in the wild. It doesn't get cooler than that.
Adventure Consultants run 13 or 30 day trips to the icy continent, costing between £8,500 and £17,000. Time to get saving.
Fancy a steak and a glass of Argentinian red after your powder run? Course you do. Welcome to South America.
The best time to visit the Andes is in July and August. While there are plenty of resorts to explore, Las Leñas in Argentina is one of the most snowsure in the country.
It's very isolated - 750 miles from Buenos Aires - so it's best to catch a charter flight to Malargue and then a one hour transfer up to the resort.
Take the Marte Chair up the mountain for 15 miles of mind-blowing terrain to explore. Watch out though because this chair frequently closes because of high winds and too much snow!
American tour operators Powder Quest will get you organised with a guide, if it's your first time to Argentina.
Living in Europe, we're lucky to have some of the best backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the world on our doorstep.
Chamonix is built for exploring the backcountry. Its ace lift system means it's just a short hike from the top of the lift to endless pow faces.
There is so much to explore here, you'd need a whole season to explore every gully and back bowl Chamonix has to offer. We're big fans of the Aosta Valley side for quieter riding and the Tete de Balme for dodging trees. Plus Chamonix is just over an hour from Geneva Airport. How easy is that?
Chamonix Guides offer dozens of tours, so they'll be able to get you off on the right foot.
Grand Tetons, Wyoming, USA
The Teton Range is so famous because of the amazing view created by the eastern elevation. As you drive across the flats of Wyoming you'll be confronted by a 7,000ft rise of pure mountain in front of your. There are no lower peaks or foothills obscuring it.
Head over to Jackson Hole for a starters. There are dozens of five-star couloirs and big peaks to tour around within the resort boundaries.
Teton Backcountry Guides will take you on powder tours with overnight stays in mountain yurts from £575 per person.
The Himalayas isn't just about Everest. The Gulmarg region is popular with skiers and snowboarders looking for a slightly more off-the-beaten-track backcountry adventure.
It's isolated, there are no big fancy hotels or shopping centres. It's pure mountain life, living, eating, sleeping in tents before tackling steep descents on Mt. Apharwat.
Free Ski Himalayas do some great packages, whether it's ski touring or heli skiing in the manner of Warren Miller.
If you want some inspiration, take a look at Jeremy Jones' expedition to the Himalayas last year as part of his film, Higher.
Whistler Backcountry, British Columbia
Just a couple of hours from downtown Vancouver, you can find yourself here: in the epic Whistler backcountry.
A great starting place for backcountry beginners is the Garabaldi Park from the mellow lake up to the challenging McBride Range. You can get your footing on a two or three day adventure here, before embarking onto something more challenging...
Take a look at Whistler Guides website if you're heading out there for the first time.
A few hours drive away, you'll find the world famous areas of Rogers Pass and Selkirk for skiers and snowboarders wanting to push it even further.