Backcountry Magazine 150 | The 2023 Skills Guide

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On the Cover: Photographer Bruno Long says Ian McIntosh is "the man with a master plan," even on down days in Alaska. McIntosh spotted this cave from their prop plane on the way to camp and led the crew there after bad weather and worse snow conditions foiled their ski plans. These days, McIntosh is capitalizing on his leadership skills and ski experience as he pursues his guiding certifications through the Canadian Ski Guide Association, a career move that compliments his home life as a husband and father. [Photo] Bruno Long



It's one thing to follow a guide or mentor through unknown, intimidating terrain. It's another to climb into the driver's seat, relying solely on yourself and your teammates in a remote place and new mountains. Leilani Bruntz, Maddie Crowell and Mali Noyes did just that, traveling to Alaska's Pika Glacier to navigate new territory. Finding success, however, required a humble step back to reaffirm their skills before tackling challenging lines.

In 2006, Ian McIntosh crash-landed into the world of ski films—literally. His first clip in Teton Gravity Research's Anomaly starts with a full-face helmet clad McIntosh tumbling over cliffs in Jackson Hole Mountain Resort's sidecountry. In the 17 years since, McIntosh has refined his approach without slowing down. He crashes less, spends more days at home with his family and has diversified his career by becoming a savvy investor and ski guide.

To ski that big line you've been eyeing for years, you need many physical abilities, from high fitness to technical rope skills. What people often overlook are the decision-making, trip planning and communication skills that are necessary for coming home. In the 2023 Skills Guide, we focus on choosing the right partners, sharing observations on the skintrack, following your gut and deciding when to turn around—even when you don't want to.



Trapped in a world of white and gray, Chris Starling skins beneath a textured sky.

Straight Lines
Ryan Stuart debates the ethics of solo skiing, Erin Smart recounts where her Arctic 12 expedition went wrong, and Jack O'Brien processes the hate for his beloved telemarking.



When Summit County Rescue Group volunteers found two snow bladers stuck in a couloir, they thought they were being pranked. Instead, it was one example of an increasingly attention-seeking culture that has spelled extra stress for search and rescue volunteers.

Go Your Own Way
No matter the reason for taking them, private avalanche courses offer a tailored educational experience.

Blind Spots
Whether or not you have health coverage, accident insurance can pay for deductibles and other unexpected expenses when you go ass over tea kettle.

Wisdom: Bruce Edgerly
Backcountry Access co-founder Bruce Edgerly has spent his career selling safety gear and educating consumers on how to use it. But that hasn't stopped him from having fun in the backcountry.

Mountain Skills: See Something, Say Something
Submitting observations to your local avalanche center might be intimidating, but data from backcountry recreators helps forecasters gather critical information that bolsters their daily reports.

Gearbox: Avalanche Safety Gear
The snowpack is getting deep—check out the latest airbags, beacons and more that will keep you safe in the backcountry.



Juliana García
Ecuadorian mountain guide, Patagonia athlete and community leader Juliana García is the first internationally certified female guide in Latin America. While she's been building a world for herself, she's also been creating a path for Latin American women to follow.






For over two and a half decades, Backcountry Magazine has been dedicated to the pursuit of fresh lines and the people who live for them.

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