Ski touring can be a daunting thing for anyone new to skiing or new to mountaineering and backcountry snow. I think that it’s a huge barrier for people to get outside on skis, not knowing where to go, getting scared of exploring new places, intimidated by ski tours that others post that look cool but scary at the same time. Well, this page and my blog is for you if you’ve ever felt like that!
Disclaimer: Ski touring is inherently dangerous and I’m here to offer advice, but always use your own best judgement for yourself!
Often times I’ve called my ski tours fit for beginners, but as I’ve started to outgrow that term, I still want to offer some advice and tips and catalogue my ski tours for those looking to find new tours that maybe aren’t as “popular” or as “hard-core”. Or maybe you are, and maybe you’ll find some here as well! As pretentious as this sounds, I’ve noticed the further away from easy skiing I get, the harder it is for me to judge whether or not something is easy. So this is a relative list of ski tours I think fall in each category, describing different potential difficulties because everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. And obviously snow conditions and fitness will be a major component that can make something harder one day and easier the next.
If you’re looking for a list of beginner ski tours, I have 25+ tours collected here. I’ve done probably 90% of them so I can vouch for the accessibility.
Beginner, low-angle and fewer trees
- early season exploration | hex mountain ski tour. Entirely low-angle and limited trees. Great when avalanche risk is higher. 2700 ft gain. East Central Cascades.
- desolation in the olympics | mt angeles ridge ski tour. Some slightly tighter trees near the road, but good open skiing up higher and avoids avalanche terrain. 3100 ft gain if you ski a bit of the back side too. Olympic Peninsula.
- green envy | green mountain ski tour. Easier when you can drive to trailhead early season and hiking up the heavily treed area. Open slopes at top. 3300 ft gain. West Central Cascades.
- teanaway spring fling | navaho pass ski tour. Good spring ski tour when you can drive to trailhead. But long walk into the basin, which can get tricky to navigate depending on snow conditions. Bowl is open slopes for skiing. 3350 ft gain over 11 miles.
- leisure skin tour | three sisters hut ski traverse. More of a cross country ski tour on mellow terrain, but you can add some skiing in too. 3800 ft gain over 25 miles. Central Oregon.
Moderate, trending steeper or more trees and further from your car
- floofy cornice central | lichtenberg mountain ski tour. A decent amount of road skiing and some thick trees to navigate for the lower half of the mountain. 2500 ft gain over 9 miles. Stevens Pass.
- very-much-whoopy | not-so-sasse peak ski tour. Easy to follow old forest roads up and taking the ridge to open slopes. Hard when wind is high, but overall mellow slopes. 3500 ft gain. East Central Cascades.
- beat the sun | green mountain sunrise ski tour. More difficult in mid-winter (see above for early winter). Long road walk to get to trailhead and some dense trees to navigate. 3900 ft gain (more if tagging true summit). West Central Cascades.
- first tracks | table mountain circumnavigation via ptarmigan ridge ski tour. Generally mellow and open terrain, but traverses far out from the car. Select your skin tracks carefully because it’s a popular area and you might not know where a track leads. 3800 ft gain over 10 miles. West North Cascades.
- daylight savings | big jim ski tour. Lots of kick turns to gain the ridge but gets you quickly to more open and mellow slopes. This report only goes part way to Big Jim, but still a big day. 4700 ft gain over 16 miles. East Central Cascades.
- sunny side slopes | chiwaukum ski tour. Mostly open terrain and short sections of steeper terrain. Currently closed due to private land access. More strenuous 5400 ft gain. East Central Cascades.
Advanced, steep terrain, strenuous
- infinity mountains | ruby ski tour. Terrain generally mellow, but at lower elevations, trees are tight and often icy. Know when to side slip or boot pack. Upper terrain is open and can as mellow or steep as you prefer. Long tour 5400 ft gain. West North Cascades.
- the epitome of spring skiing | rock mountain ski tour. Lots of switchbacks (or boot packing) to get up the ridge. 5400 ft gain. Stevens Pass.
- down under circumnavigation | kangaroo wallaby (wa pass) ski tour. Requires steep climbing and skiing. Likely need crampons (for skis and boots) in the spring – when the highway opens. Moderately strenuous 4300 ft gain. East North Cascades.
Technical, additional skills required
- chasing the alpine | eldorado c2c ski. Requires glacier travel knowledge and experience to determine roping up and line of travel. Very strenuous as a single day push 7300 ft gain. West North Cascades.
- return to kulshan | c2c baker via squak ski tour. Requires glacier travel knowledge and experience to determine roping up and line of travel. Very strenuous as a single day push 7850 ft gain. West North Cascades.
- multisport fun | rainier attempt via ingraham direct. Requires glacier travel knowledge and experience to determine roping up and line of travel. Overnight ski tour only to Muir (which itself is a 4500 ft gain of low-angle terrain). 8200 ft gain for this trip, turned around shy of summit. West South Cascades.
Curious about getting into backcountry skiing? Check out my other blogs here: