Backcountry Skiing Alone
Setting a skin track early morning all alone, the click of the bindings and the sound of snow crunching under the skis is all that breaks the silence. Suddenly, WHOOMP, the slope avalanches from above and there is no place to go. When skiing alone there is nobody to dig you out, and even if you’re only partially buried, you’re stuck. These are the risks of backcountry skiing alone.
Why do I go backcountry skiing alone? Because the only flakes should come from the sky. Nobody can give a last-minute excuse of, “I don’t feel well, wahhhhh”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in this position and didn’t go, because someone else had a little too much to drink the night before.
I get to go at my own pace when backcountry skiing alone. Sometimes I want to move swiftly through the mountains, ski the most vertical, or skin a LONG approach. Other times I want to slow it down for photography.
There is nothing like the silence of the forest after a fresh winter snow on dawn patrol. (*dawn patrol is starting before sunrise.)
Finally, there is never a scheduling conflict when backcountry skiing alone. With everyone’s busy lives it is difficult to find a time that works. When I can find someone else who is available and wants to go, then, of course, I go with them. I really enjoy going backcountry skiing as often as possible. Others can’t go as much as I’d like, therefore I have to go alone sometimes.
In spite of the increased risk, backcountry skiing alone can be relatively safe. There are always risks in the mountains. Before going alone, always check the avalanche forecast at Utah Avalanche Center and only go if the danger is low to moderate. Have the skills and equipment to safely navigate in Avalanche terrain. Have an understanding of basic avalanche safety, recognize wind loading, slope angles, and monitor the temperature throughout the tour. Look out for slope angles of adjacent terrain, as they are just as likely to put you in danger as the one you’re on.
If you want to go backcountry skiing and can’t find someone to go with you, go alone, just take extra caution. Being alone in the Backcountry is a serene experience.