Backcountry Magazine 154 | The Blue Collar Issue

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On the Cover: With dramatic relief and a knife-edge ridgeline, Mount Smuts (9,639’) is known in the summer months to be one of the most difficult climbing scrambles in the Canadian Rockies. But it’s a different story when the snow begins to fall. With a powder padding to ease his journey, Bryan Fenske follows the summit ridge bootpack toward Smuts, with the hopes of skiing the peak’s nearly 50-degree south face, one of the classic lines in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country that sits just outside Banff National Park. [Photo] Cody Shimizu



Arolla sits deep in a valley in the Swiss Alps at the end of a winding road. Around the village are massive peaks and immense glaciers rife with impressive skiable terrain on par with that of Zermatt and Verbier. But Arolla, punctuated by old Poma lifts and historic chalet hotels, is contrastingly quiet compared to its chicly developed counterparts. Despite the charm of being willfully stuck in the past, the small, independent ski town is wondering how long its authenticity will remain viable.

Tromsø, Norway, lies above the Arctic Circle and is closer to Russia and northern Finland than to Oslo. Surrounded by the snow-laden peaks of skiers’ dreams, the terrain is largely unknown. When the pandemic hit, ski guides Merrick Johnston, Lena Dahl and Edda Rainer realized the potential for more backcountry education and guided access in the area. The three founded Tromsø Ski Guides, a women-owned guide company focused on reducing risks and increasing smiles.

GOLD p. 104
For two centuries, precious metals buried in the Earth have drawn people north— for better or worse. While that allure still holds strong today, not everyone is headed to the mines in search of silver and gold. Joining the rush are those seeking another precious product of nature: snow. They’re snow-safety professionals, and they’re willing to travel ungodly distances to run avalanche mitigation in the deepest and darkest of winters in return for unprecedented access to backcountry turns.



Yan Kaczynski saves the best for last in Alaska’s Takhinsha Mountains.

Straight Lines
Ski patroller Aaron David Rice steps outside the resort for work, legendary ski mountaineer Greg Hill has a midlife crisis, and tele skier Jesse Huffman drops a knee into healing.



Big Strides
Jackson Hole’s Coombs Outdoors was started a decade ago to provide outdoor mentorship and education for kids. Last winter, the program took a new step onto the skintrack.

Stress Response
Nurse practitioner Laura McGladrey knows the physical and mental toll rescue work takes on first responders. So, she founded the Responder Alliance to help rescuers deal with stress-related injuries and stay ready for the next emergency.

Wisdom: Gabrielle Antonioli
Who likes female mentorship and sharing snow observations? Avalanche forecaster Gabrielle Antonioli does.

Mountain Skills: Training Grounds
New Hampshire resident Andrew Drummond uses the 6,000-foot peaks in his backyard to train for worldwide expeditions.

Gearbox: Packs, Helmets and Goggles
A new pack that will kill your quiver of bags, plus five other do-it-all packs; helmets that balance style, safety and weight; and goggles with 20/20 vision.

On Location: Chile’s Lake District
With hotels built around living trees, active volcanos and a daily corn cycle that softens like clockwork, the conical peaks and thick forests in the Chilean Andes feel more alive than the average landscape.



Profile: Keree Smith
Is adding black pepper to your skins good for the glue? Jane-of-all-trades Keree Smith says yes. Smith’s other ski-bum hacks include keeping duct tape handy and never being afraid to jump into a new opportunity.






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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