April 11, 2022 - 11:51am
The backcountry program opened up a new chapter over spring break with their first-ever international ski trip! We based out of Chamonix, France for over a week of skiing in the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps. The team got to learn a bunch of new skills and see some really cool terrain.
The weather couldn’t have been better with a mix of sunny days and storm days. On the nice days, we got up high and explored glaciated terrain. Team members got to learn valuable lifelong mountaineering skills such as: navigating glaciated terrain on skis, traveling on a rope, crevasse identification, and crevasse rescue skills.
Group members took turns taking the lead (with a guide close behind). It was nice for everyone to put the skills they learned in the Tetons to the test in one of the most demanding mountain ranges in the world. Everyone worked hard studying maps and learning from each other, and came out with an increased knowledge of backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering.
Mixed in with the glacier days were plenty of mountaineering days, summits, and some memorable powder skiing. We all agreed on multiple days that we were skiing the best snow of the season. It was not too crowded this time of year, so when it snowed, we rode the chairlifts and had first tracks without needing to work for it.
In France, they do not do the same kind of avalanche mitigation they do in the states. This is good in the fact that people generally stick to the groomers - but it also means we ski at the ski resort as if it is backcountry - beacon, shovel, probe, and looking out for avalanche terrain.
That’s it for now - stay tuned for more adventures from the Backcountry Program. We are heading to Ecuador for some ski mountaineering this summer and will be doing more Alps trips in the future!