Back Country Skiing in the White Mountains
We here at IMCS are passionate about climbing and skiing of all types and are offering a chance for skiers to break the cycle of crowds and lift lines and try a different approach to this sport! We guide in a number of areas in the White Mountains of New Hampshire that have classic backcountry ski terrain from the incredibly steep Eastern slope of Mt. Washington, including Tuckerman, Gulf of Slides and Huntington Ravine to the moderate backcountry trails of Mt.Garfield and Doublehead. Backcountry skiing in the Northeast has always been very conditions dependent but most winters if you are flexible with your time quite a few ski able days can be squeezed in. A number of tours offer a more laid back approach to skiing including below treeline on old classic ski trails that were cut back in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Core and wide logging and fire tower roads. The majority of the terrain that we typically guide is intermediate to expert but we are willing to ski and guide on almost any terrain including classic backcountry traverses and a few select 3000-4000 foot summits. The steep terrain surrounding Mt. Washington is best termed “Ski Mountaineering” with full avalanche, crampon and ice axe knowledge needed before venturing there. If you are looking to ski Mt. Washington we offer the full compliment of mountaineering skills training. This training can include, selecting the proper clothing, the use of ice axes, crampons, climbing skins and Level One Avalanche courses (these include beacon, probe and shovel use). These courses will start to enable you to travel both above treeline and into the ravines in winter to push your skiing limits.
Tours are rated moderate, more difficult, most difficult and most difficult/ski mountaineering. The true difficulty of each tour will also be a combination of weather conditions, your physical conditioning and your ability to ski a variable snowpack. A rough gage of where you could be on this scale is as follows:
Moderate Tours are for skiers that are comfortable on green trails at ski areas.
More difficult tours can be skied by lower intermediate skiers that ski both blue and green runs at the ski areas.
Most difficult tours are best attempted by Skiers that ski blue intermediate trails and black diamonds on a regular basis.
Ski Mountaineering descents should only be attempted by expert skiers that ski double black diamonds and steep glades at a resort.
We mostly guide on Alpine Touring gear but can also use steel edged cross country skis and telemark gear appropriate for the conditions. We can provide beacons, probes, shovels, axes and crampons for Ski Mountaineering programs and can arrange to help with rental ski gear. Skis, poles and boot rentals will be an additional charge not included in the advertised daily rates if needed. A guidebook “Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast” by David Goodman, (Appalachian Mountain Club books) documents a lot of the best tours in our area and is a good reference to what is available to ski. We also know of many other areas not in guidebooks close to North Conway that offer great tree skiing and a fun day out in the snow. If you are a skier looking to break out of the ski area boundaries and wanting a little guidance or just need some solid company in the backcountry IMCS can help you out! Give us a call at 603-356-7064 and talk to one of our knowledgeable staff about making your skiing high ambitions happen! To purchase Best Backcountry Skiing ($19.95) call IME 603-356-6316 and we will mail one out to you!
Backcountry Skiing; Skiing ungroomed and unmarked slopes outside ski resort's boundaries, frequently done amongst trees, ("glade skiing"), usually in pursuit of fresh fallen powder snow. Unlike groomed cross-country and alpine skiing, the land and the snow pack are not monitored, patrolled, or maintained. Fixed mechanical means of ascent such as ski lift, are typically not present, but may be used to gain initial altitude when available. Ski touring and ski mountaineering are forms of backcountry skiing which can expand to single or multi-day trips through camping or the use of mountain huts.
If you're planning to ski steep backcountry terrain in the East or West, be sure to take one of avalanche courses.
Be sure to read our Gear List for our winter programs HERE
1 Day Basic Mountaineering Skills
2 Day Basic Mountaineering Skills, with ascent of Mount Washington
3 Day Basic Mountaineering Skills, with overnight and ascent of Mt. Washington
2 Day Advanced Mountaineering Skills, with overnight and technical ascent of Mt. Washington
1 day Ascent of Mt Washington
Mt Washington Observatory Overnight
Presidential Range Traverse
Glacier Skills Crevasse Rescue
Winter Camping Skills
Click HERE for our Mountaineering Course Price List
We offer scheduled courses, clinics and trips for climbers of all levels of experience and ability. All of the climbing programs we offer may be booked by private arrangement for individuals or groups. Private guiding allows your needs to be addressed in a personalized manner and has proven to be an excellent way for individuals and groups to learn at a pace you direct. Our guides are flexible and love a new adventure. Tell us what you want to accomplish during your time with us and chances are good we can arrange it. We want your climb to be a safe and enjoyable experience
Prices are determined by the ratio of climbers to guides. Course cost includes rental of all technical gear required for safe and instructional participation. In the winter we provide boots, crampons, ice axe(s), harness, helmet, ropes, and snow & ice protection.
For overnight trips we also provide all communal gear including tents, stoves, food for main meals, fuel and camping fees. Climbers need to provide backpack, sleeping bag and pad, additional food, fluids, personal items and appropriate clothing
The proper clothing is vital if you are to enjoy the program. Please take the quote "Cotton Kills" seriously. Cotton is NOT suitable for use in the mountains in winter. Please check the gear list we have provided to make sure you are prepared.
Click HERE for our Mountaineering Course Price List