Ski Mountaineering: the discipline of climbing and descending mountains with the use of skis. Often, using the methods and tools of more traditional mountain climbing. Some of these tools include: Crampons, Ice Axe, Harness and rope. Some of the methods include repelling and belaying as well as technical alpine climbing techniques. But ski mountaineering also includes technical descents. Technical descents include: Belayed skiing, rappels (with and without skis), and definitely Steep and often exposed skiing.

This is a very personal question, for which I assume there are many different answers. For me, it is mostly about the position and perspective.

Looking down a steep couloir or exposed face and understanding that I must not fall, and having the confidence that I won’t. Pushing myself physically, enduring through fatigue and over coming fear. Looking at my objective on the way up to admire it’s defenses and plan my attack. Then again on the way out to be thankful and inspired by the effort and accomplishment.

This is our home, we ski here almost every day in a good winter. We work with a bunch of very knowledgeable and experienced guides. We are in the terrain and talking about conditions with other professional guides and forecasters every day. Very few have the intimate, and enduring relationship with the Wasatch mountains as we do.

Not only do we know the terrain, we have the proven skills to keep you safe while achieving your goals. As Certified Ski Mountaineering Guides we were tested by our professional mentors and peers on the knowledge and skills required to guide in this terrain. We are all skiers of the highest caliber and have proven these skills with big technical ski descents here in the Wasatch and around the world. Most of all we love this stuff! This is what inspires us most of all. We love to explore, and to ski the classics!

Here in the Wasatch we have some very classic ski descents, including four entries into Chris Davenports coffee table best seller "Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America", and made more famous by the documentary "The Fifty" staring Cody Townsend. These four classics: Mount Superior’s South Face, Thunder Ridge’s Hypodermic Needle, Mount Timpanogos’s Cold Fusion and Mount Tukuhnikivatz in the La Sals, are the Utah four to make the cut.

Andrew Mclean’s “the Chuting Gallery” is another well known tic list of Wasatch ski mountaineering. His book includes some of our favorites like: The Pfifferhorns NW couloir, The East couloir on Kessler and Monte Cristo’s Edge of the World to Directissimo. We’ve guided many and done most (Some are rarely in condition).

Any advanced to expert skiers who enjoys steep challenging skiing. All objectives are not the same as far as danger, but any steep objective has potential consequences. You should be a confident skier, able to make consistent controlled turns in all Black and Double Black Diamond terrain in Western ski resorts.

While not imperative on some objectives and in some conditions, a bit of experience backcountry skiing is important for safety and efficiency. Knowing how to use your touring gear, and familiarity with beacons and rescue gear is super helpful, so the focus can be on accomplishing the objective. Basic knowledge is required in some conditions.

If you don’t know this stuff, that fine. Let’s just add in a day of training. You won’t be sad you did!

Many of these more committing, bigger objectives are priced differently than our normal ski touring. We think of this as a kind of hazard pay. You can Ski Mountaineer the Wasatch!

Skis With Alpine Touring bindings

We recommend a touring ski with a waist between 105cm and 116. Skis should be equipped with touring binding, preferably tech style bindings.

Climbing Skins

Skins need to be in good condition and cut to fit your ski.

Ski Touring Boot

Boots need to be compatible with your bindings. Boots must have a walk mode.

Ski Crampons

Ski Crampons must be compatible with you bindings and ski waist width.

Boot Crampons

We highly recommend aluminum crampons. Make sure they work with your ski boots.

Harness

Harness must fit over ski clothing, be light weight and in good condition. You should also have 2 locking carabiners and a belay device.

Ice Axe

Ice Axe needs to be light weight and short (Less than 55cm).

Ski Backpack

A good ski pack should be light weight and have a dedicated pocket for your avalanche rescue gear and be between 35-50 liters.

Avalanche Rescue Gear

You will need a shovel and probe. The Shovel should have an extendable handle, an aluminum blade and fit into you pack without sticking out. Make sure your probe is in working order.

Avalanche Beacon

Your beacon should be a modern digital beacon. Come with new batteries in your beacon.

Ski Helmet

While we don’t require you to ski with a helmet we do highly recommend it.

Beanie

Light or medium weight beanie.

Buff/Neck Gaiter

We recommend a lightweight buff as it has many uses.

Goggles

We really like goggles with changeable lenses for use in bright and low light. They should also be compatible with your helmet.

Sun Glasses

Even if you always prefer to ski in goggles, sun glasses are needed for the up. Goggles will get fogged with sweat.

Warm Gloves

How warm depends on you. We recommend a durable well fitting ski glove.

Light Gloves

Lighter weight gloves are recommended for hiking up to reduce sweating.

Hard Shell Jacket

Waterproof/breathable jacket with ventilation.

Light Insulating Jacket

Breathable light insulating jacket.

Mid to Heavy Insulating Jacket

When temps are cold, you will be happy for a nice warm jacket.

Top Base Layer

We really like sun hoodies.

Ski Pants

We recommend a light option or a more waterproof option.

Bottom Base Layer

Bottoms.

Ski Socks

We prefer light weight socks.

Sunscreen

50 SPF or greater. Make sure your tube is not old as sunscreen can lose it’s effectiveness over time.

Lip Screen

Make sure it has SPF.

Small First Aid Kit

This should contain blister repair material, over the counter pain killers and a few bandaids. We will have a full sized med kit on the boat as well as field kits with the guides.

  • Your guide will contact you no later than the evening before your trip to discuss the days plans.
  • For a full day of skiing, plan on 8+ hours out. Bigger objectives can take between 10 and 12 hours.
  • A typical day: Guides will meet clients in one of the Park and Ride parking lots. From the meeting area (guides will tell you where) you will go up one of the canyons together in the client vehicle or public transportation.

*Please note, because of insurance reasons we are not able to transport clients in guide vehicles.


Before You Head Out
  • The guide will do a verbal gear check and confirm that waivers have been signed.
  • The guide will inform you what to do incase of emergency.
  • The guide will give you an overview of the day with estimated completion time.

You day will usually end where your day began (at one of the parking lots or at your lodge). Directions to parking areas where we often meet. Alway confirm meeting place with your guide.


Maps/Locations

Classic Utah Descents

  • Mount Superior's South Face
  • Thunder Ridge’s Hypodermic Needle
  • Mount Timpanogos’s Cold Fusion
  • Mount Tukuhnikivatz in the La Sals
Adventure Guides - ITCOG Book Now Guided Alpine Expeditions by ITCOG Free Expedition Planner by ITCOG

Higher, Further, Steeper!

We are certified, experienced, professional Mountain Guides. Contact us today to start planning your next adventure.

Contact Us Now

Your Team

We specialize in designing custom and private trips, perfect for you or a group. Our team of highly experienced, certified, professional guides will teach you the skills, and lead you there and safely home.

Meet The Team

ITCOG Guides