Trip Preparation and Skier Requirements

Backcountry Skiing and Ski Mountaineering are demanding activities and are very serious undertakings. The more prepared you are, the more enjoyable your trip will be. Being physically fit is very important, and can make dealing with hazards less dangerous. All participants must be free of medical or physical conditions that could create undue risk to themselves or to others that depend on them. Our programs operate in remote locations where advanced medical care and evacuation may not be available for hours or days.

On some trips you will be carrying heavy loads. Sleeping and eating conditions on overnight trips are not always ideal. Weather is often unpredictable and may disrupt climbing and skiing. The mountain environment can be very changeable, and you must be prepared for any weather. In the Oregon Cascades, you will be climbing at altitudes up to 11,245 feet.

You must prepare yourself mentally and physically for the many challenges. It will all be worthwhile.

Medical Considerations

If you have had a recent injury, illness, or surgery, or if you have a medical condition such as asthma or allergies to food or medications, you should consult with us as well as your physician before signing up for any trip. If there is any doubt as to your ability to participate in this activity, you should have a physical examination by a physician.

Personal Responsibility

We make every effort to provide you with a successful ski trip. Backcountry Skiing and Ski Mountaineering involve inherent risks that are beyond our control. You will assume the responsibility for many decisions affecting the safety of your trip. We do not assume liability for injuries or death. All participants are completely responsible for all medical and hospital costs associated with any injury, rescue or evacuation. You must sign a release form and go at your own risk.

If you are interested in rescue insurance you may want to check with the American Alpine Club and their Global Rescue Service.

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions:

What level of skier do I need to be in order to participate?

All of our skiing will occur in non-groomed snow conditions. Therefore, it is advisable that you are able to link turns in off-piste or non-groomed conditions, on a variety of slopes. This translates into Intermediate or Expert ski runs at a ski resort.

Do I really need all the items on the equipment list?

Yes. We have selected the gear required for your program with great care in the hope that we will be prepared for any weather conditions. It can snow at any time of year in the mountains.

What kind of physical conditioning should I be doing to prepare?

Most backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering challenges involve long duration and medium to low intensity. All of our ski trips require very good physical fitness. To participate in any of our ski mountaineering trips, you should be able to hike or climb for 5 to 6 hours with a 20 to 40 pound pack and ascend 3,000 to 4,000 feet of vertical gain per day.

In order to prepare for such a feat, you should be exercising 3 to 4 times per week for at least one hour per session. We recommend doing long hikes on your days off that are at least 6-8 hours long and involve at least 3,000 vertical feet of ascent and descent.

The guide will make a decision to turn back if he feels the ski tour has been placed in jeopardy. We are not in a position to evaluate your fitness level, so it is up to you to evaluate it. If you are overweight or are in poor health, please consult your doctor before signing up for any trip.

Do I tip my guides?

While it is not required,  it is customary to tip your guide if you feel they did a standout job.