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Backcountry Skiing

Winter transforms New England into an arctic wonderland. Even though we are located in the most populous region of the United States, winter-time snows cover-up all signs of man. It is only in the winter months that one can really experience the true essence of the mountains; for the snow has returned the wilderness to us.

This is a chapter on backcountry skiing, or as the old-timers from the ’30s and ’40s called it, down-mountain skiing. It is a sport away from the noise of ski lifts and snow guns, and is found on the many large and small peaks in New England. On these ski-outings, one works hard the first part of the day climbing on skis to approach the descent — that hillside streambed, open snow gully, or hiking trail that you have designated as your day’s objective.

Backcountry skiing gives you another opportunity to enjoy the mountains. New England’s mountains in winter are ever-changing and wondrous. The snow can be piled high on the mountains when the Dartmouth Green is still green or ice-covered. The mountains demand a price for their beauty, however. The adventurer needs to be self-reliant, a good navigator, capable of skiing in many different snow conditions, and physically fit, as well as knowledgeable on how to stay warm in extreme cold.

If you’re not quite sure on your telemarking skis yet, or are in search of other down-mountain skiers, Cabin and Trail has trips for all levels, and always welcomes newcomers. Call the DOC at (603) 646-2429 to find out meeting times.

Information included here for the backcountry skier covers equipment, planning a trip, weather and snow patterns, and safety. Backcountry skiing is exploring; don’t be satisfied with just the trip descriptions in this guide. They are to start you out, give you a basis from which to begin to seek out your own routes. Keep the adventure in skiing — adventure that has been groomed out of the commercial ski areas with their designated runs and manicured snow.

Last Updated: 6/13/22