With colder days ahead, we present you with a moment of pause in our Photo Annual: a culmination of the best backcountry photos of the year, meticulously selected to get your brain ready for winter. Alongside our Photo Annual, we include the musings of Fifty Classics Ski Descents in North America co-author Art Burrows on Cody Townsend and Noah Howell’s attempts to ski every line in the book. Then we dive headfirst into the history of splitboarding, from its ’90s garage origins to today’s split boom. Plus, tips for more efficient splitboarding, an accidental split-ski descent of Washington’s Tahoma Mountain and our top picks for splitboard accessories.
On the Cover: On her first trip to Alaska, Liz Daley savors a sunset deep in the Tordillo Range. Daley, along with Caroline Gleich and photographer Jay Beyer, spent the trip hiking to lines like this one from their glacier camp below. [Photo] Jay Beyer
THE 2021 PHOTO ANNUAL
In autumn 2009, Art Burrows, Penn Newhard and Chris Davenport began compiling lines for their new book, Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America. Now, over a decade later, the book has inspired another wave of ski mountaineers, namely Noah Howell and Cody Townsend, who are each on a quest to ski the 50 lines— including some so daunting that, Burrows says, "skiing just one during a lifetime would be enough for most people."
COLDER DAYS AHEAD
In a year of increasing unpredictability—including climate, political and social upheaval—sometimes the best course of action is to simply pause for a moment. As the world swirls outside like a frenzied snow squall, we offer a reprieve in the form of arching lines, dramatic powder and some good, old fashioned shotgun- ning, captured in untouched, timeless moments to melt away chaos and fuel anticipation for calmer, colder days ahead.
In 2020, splitboarding is easy to pick up. Thanks to leaps in technology and the growing popularity of leaving resort boundaries, the sport is now cele- brated by the snowboard community. But in its late 1980 and early '90s infancy, splitboarding existed at the fringe. It would take pioneers decades of experi- menting to achieve widespread acceptance of a board that breaks in two. Now, a sport with murky origin stories and diverging opinions on who did what and when has become a stalwart niche heralded by professional riders and the everyperson alike.
Louis Arevalo and Utah's burned Mapleton Canyon find growth after injury.
Photographer Louis Arevalo reflects on his experience slowing down post injury. Plus, a ski guide and avalanche instructor navigates a new human factor, Covid-19.
Winds of Change
Best laid plans often go awry, something that a group of skiers from Jackson, Wyo., found out after a season spent prepping to climb and ski Denali ended in stay-at- home orders. The trio pivoted, instead plotting out a two-week, 100-mile traverse through the nearby Wind River Range.
Wisdom: Sofia Jaramillo
How one Wyoming-based photographer is expanding the lens of inclusivity.
Splitboard guide Izzy Lazarus makes backcountry riding more efficient.
Benja Glatz reveals his surprise split-ski descent of Washington's Tahoma Mountain.
Mount Hayden Lodge offers high-end living with access to some of the best terrain in Colorado's San Juan Mountains.
Local Legend: Peter Kray
Mike Horn remembers lessons learned from long- time writer Peter Kray.
For over two and a half decades, Backcountry's kept a close pulse on skis, boots, bindings, splitboards and more.