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Our backpacking trip are set up for all levels of backpackers and athletes.
Level 1: This is an entry level trip for both a beginner backpacker and a beginner athlete. We will go over all you need to know from packing your pack, to pacing, to setting up your tent to how to go to the bathroom in the woods.
Level 2: This trip can be for a beginner backpacker but should be reserved for a person who has a reasonable level of fitness and who can hike up to 8 miles a day wearing a 40 pound pack. Experience with altitude helps.
Level 3: This trip is for an experienced backpacker and a good athlete. We will cover lots of ground with heavy packs and you should have experience with both.
Fastpacking is not for beginners. All of the fastpacking trips we offer demand a certain level of fitness and experience with both off-trail travel and altitude.
Level 1: This is the easiest of the fastpacking trips we offer. They will cover up to 10 miles a day with a varying level of vertical gain and loss on rough terrain . You should be able to comfortably hike up to 10 miles a day with up to 15 pounds. Experience with altitude is a plus.
Level 2: On these trips we will cover up to 20 miles a day with a varying level of vertical gain and loss on rough terrain. You should be able to comfortably hike up to 20 miles a day with up to 15 pounds on uneven terrain. You should have expereince at alltitude, be familiar with mending blisters, and camping in the wilderness.
Level 3: These trips are designed for the ultra runner. You should be able to run/ hike up to 30 miles a day on uneven terrain carrying up to 15 pounds. These trips can have up to 9000' gains and have off trail travel. These trips are excellent training for 50K's and 100's. You should have expereince at alltitude, be familiar with mending blisters, and camping in the wilderness.
Rock Climbing Courses:
There is this misperception that rock climbers must be 7 feet tall and 110 pounds to be good at it. The truth of it is that every body shape has its benefits in rock climbing. Here is one our our favorite quotes:
"At 6 feet tall I can reach holds that my wife at 5'1" could only reach with wings but she can get her fingers into cracks that I can only vainly claw at" -unknown.
Introductory: Totally introductory. The only thing you need to know about rock climbing is that you want to try it. You should be able to walk on uneven terrain.
Intermediate: Must have taken a Rock 101 course or equivalent.
Advanced: You should be a rock solid belayer, know how to set anchors, place gear and confidently climb outdoors.
Skiing has a degination for both courses and trips.
Beginner- Our beginner backcountry ski courses are designed for experienced skiers and riders looking to gain solid foundational skills to maximize the backcountry experience. Ideal for those who want to learn to explore the mountains from open ski area boundaries, roadheads, or huts. Skiers and riders should be comfortable on most of the terrain offered by typical North American ski resorts, and should at a minimum be able to descend black diamond runs fluidly, enjoyably, and in control. Prior experience in the backcountry is not necessary, but some experience skiing or riding “off-piste” in deep, untracked snow at resorts is highly recommended. Fitness should be good and participants should be capable of a full-day of moving and learning in the mountains.
Intermediate- Intermediate courses are designed for backcountry skiers and riders who want to expand on the basics and get into more of the advanced techniques to improve safety and efficiency in the mountains. Most of our intermediate programs require an excellent skiing/riding ability and comfort on almost all of the ski resort’s terrain, including double-black diamond runs, moguls, dense glades, and other off-piste mountain terrain. Participants should have very good fitness and be capable of high mountain tours with ~3000’ vertical gain in a few miles.
Advanced- Advanced courses are designed for experienced backcountry enthusiasts who want to learn or hone specific high-end skills and learn to apply them with greater success. These courses focus on teaching essential backcountry leadership skills for successfully leading long and complex mountain tours and/or ski mountaineering adventures. We work with participants on a personal basis on these courses to refine specific skills and practices for increasing safety, efficiency, speed, comfort, and style in the mountains. Participants must be expert skiers or riders in most all snow conditions, and be capable of descending steep and exposed terrain using appropriate, well-executed downhill technique. Fitness must be excellent and participants must be able to comfortably complete tours with 4000’ of vertical gain.
Trip Levels- guided ski trips:
Level 1- Trips with a Level 1 rating are generally introductory trips designed for the enjoyment of a new element of backcountry travel. These trips typically involve a bit of instruction on-the-fly, introduced as needed within the context of a beginner’s outing, so they fit well either before or after a Beginner level course. Level 1 programs maximize the “fun factor” and are not designed to be overly strenuous. To maximize enjoyment we recommend that skiers and riders be comfortable on most of the terrain offered by typical North American ski resorts, and should at a minimum be able to descend black diamond runs fairly fluidly, enjoyably, and in control. Prior experience in the backcountry is not necessary, but some experience skiing or riding “off-piste” in deep, untracked snow at resorts is highly recommended. Fitness should be good and participants should be capable of a full-day of moving in the high mountains. Most level 1 ski programs are day trips from the comforts of a town, or overnights with a light pack from an easily accessible mountain resort, hut, or basecamp.
Level 2- Level 2 rated trips are exciting tours meet our highest standards of quality. Level 2 trips fully embrace the beauty, sensation, and challenge of the backcountry experience and are designed to maximize travel on aesthetic mountain ridges and couloirs, scenic glades, big bowls, and open slopes. These trips are what backcountry skiing is all about, pure enjoyment. To participate on a Level 2 trip, we ask participants to have prior experience skiing or riding, and touring, in the backcountry with the appropriate equipment. Level 2 programs require an excellent skiing/riding ability and comfort on almost all of the ski resort’s terrain, including double-black diamond runs, moguls, dense glades, and other off-piste mountain terrain. Participants should have very good fitness and be capable of high mountain tours with ~3000’-4000’ of vertical gain. Level 2 trips include many Sierra off-piste outings, day tours, and peak descents, as well as multi-day trips from mountain resorts, huts, and basecamps, and introductory high mountain ski traverses. Level 2 trips are perfect for reasonably fit and skilled skiers and riders who have acquired the skills taught on Beginner courses, and have logged at least a couple backcountry tours to practice those skills.
Level 3- Our Level 3 trips are some of our most inspirational trips, ones that many will aspire to as the pinnacle of their backcountry career. To successfully complete these itineraries requires excellent skill, fitness, and timing. Anyone who is looking at a Level 3 trip understands that weather and conditions are absolutely key, so we schedule these trips with flexibility and terrain options. Level 3 trips include the giant world class peak descents and steep couloirs of the Sierra’s Eastside, multi-day Sierra alpine crest tours, classic High Sierra range traverses, and High Mountain Itineraries in exciting, far-off locations. Prerequisites for Level 3 programs vary according to the trip itinerary, and must be assessed on an individual basis. Generally, these trips require significant backcountry experience, top-notch mountain fitness, and expert downhill skills. Our courses and trip offerings are engineered to work together to prepare people as efficiently as possible to participate in a Level 3 program at some point if they so desire.
Level 4- We offer, and continue to design, a few Level 4 programs for the elite of the elite, the bare handful of skiers that can handle such itineraries. This is as bad-ass as it gets. These trips range from extreme technical ski descents to light and fast multi-day endurance-fests. Level 4 programs generally involve a significant amount of technical ski mountaineering and many are more suitable to alpine touring (Randonée) than to snowboarding or telemark skiing. All Level 4 programs are scheduled on a custom basis and all require prior screening by one of our guides on at least one previous SMG program.
Introductory- If you can swing a hammer at a nail you can ice climb! You should be able to walk on uneven terrain and have a sense of adventure but otherwise no ice climbing experience is necessary.
Intermediate: You have taken an ice 101 course or equivalent.
Advanced: You should be a confident ice climber with rock solid belaying techniques and familiarity with placing ice protection and anchors.