Learning how to tour in the backcountry with touring skis or a splitboard can be a daunting endeavor. NCMG’s experienced guides will help you learn foundational skills, including skinning techniques, avalanche rescue, layering and packing considerations, and terrain selection. We help take the frustration out of learning to tour and keep things fun! Instead of heading out into unfamiliar backcountry terrain on your own, with no previous experience, our guides will take you to terrain they know and ski all the time and instruct you on the nuances of touring. This is our backyard, and nobody knows it better than NCMG guides, who live here year round and have unparalleled knowledge of the terrain, weather, and snowpack - and best of all, where to find fresh powder!
- Touring equipment
- Avalanche safety
- Terrain choices
- Setting/maintaining skin tracks
- Transitioning from uphill to downhill and vice versa
- Backcountry skiing techniques
- Snowmobile fundamentals
- Snowmobile rental
- Snowmobile transport to and from the trailhead at the base of your backcountry ski tour
- Use of avalanche safety equipment
- Guiding by one of NCMG’s knowledgeable guides
Late October through May (conditions permitting)
Daily tours available pending weather and snow conditions and guide availability
Tours depart from Mazama, Washington
We meet early at the North Cascade Heli base of operations located on the Wilson Ranch at 31 Early Winters Drive, Mazama, WA 98833 (this is temporary until our new facility, under construction, is completed in May 2020). Your guide will discuss the day’s itinerary, weather and snow conditions, recommended clothing and equipment, avalanche safety protocols, and then we head for the trailhead.
After the North Cascades Highway closes in late fall, much of our ski terrain must be accessed by snowmobile. Our Washington Pass backcountry skiing trips include the use of our snowmobiles (but you may use your own). NCMG guides will instruct you on how to safely operate and ride a snowmobile, even if it’s your first time riding a snowmobile. We have several snowmobiles and carry gear on a cargo sled. This also allows us to bring extra clothes, emergency equipment and other supplies that we can leave at the machines. We ride as a group up the highway via snowmobile, enjoying beautiful views along the way, to the base of the day’s objective. From there, we start the ascent using climbing skins attached to alpine touring skis or splitboards. At the end of the day, the snowmobiles are waiting for the ride back down to your vehicle.
The North Cascades Highway corridor has dozens upon dozens of touring options and runs, and we accommodate a wide variety of skier abilities. We have guided many first-time backcountry skiers and can customize a tour to focus on avalanche safety, advanced touring techniques, or just getting the best turns possible. These tours are offered almost every day of the winter with advance registration and may be arranged on a custom basis.
For those with backcountry skiing experience, we have terrain to accommodate all skier abilities from the enthusiastic intermediate to the expert ripper. Because our guides are out there most days of the winter, they are tuned in to finding the best snow and the terrain. Between the snowmobile ride, the awesome touring terrain and plenty of untracked powder, along with the experience and knowledge of a NCMG guide, a day (or more) of backcountry skiing with NCMG at Washington Pass promises to be an enjoyable and memorable adventure.
Strong intermediate to expert skiing and snowboarding ability is required. The backcountry environment is much more variable than on-piste, resort skiing with highly variable snow conditions including deep powder. Fitness level is important. You must be able to ascend uphill carrying a backpack and have the energy and strength to ski downhill – and repeat this more than once.
- Pre-Trip Briefing - Pt. 1
- Pre-Trip Briefing - Pt. 2
- Pre-Trip Briefing - Snowmobile Safety
- More pre-trip videos can be found on this page - Skiing Pre-Trip Videos