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Tips for Backcountry Skiing this Winter in Durango

Tips for Backcountry Skiing this Winter in Durango

There’s nothing better than getting to ski on some fresh powder. If you are a storm chaser and are looking for the absolute best snow in southwest Colorado, then this one's for you! Those who have gone backcountry skiing before know the drill, but be sure to be prepared for anything when you are up in the high country. When it comes to having proper equipment, proper safety training, weather reports and the best places to backcountry ski around Durango, Colorado we’ve got you covered. As always, be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Instagram and use the hashtag, #dodurango, to be featured on our page! We’d love to see your journey in becoming an absolute beast in the backcountry.




First thing is first– get certified. You may think that looking the part is most important when it comes to backcountry skiing, but this isn’t a ski resort, so we recommend knowing your stuff before dropping money on backcountry skis or snowboards. There are many courses you can take around Durango to get you prepared for your search for high country powder. Here are our top three picks of AVY education courses offered in the area:

1. San Juan Mountain Guides

San Juan Mountain Guides offers a variety of backcountry courses for beginners to experts wanting to brush up on their craft in the Durango area. Unlike other organizations, SJMG offers extensive access to the terrain in the area including the Sneffels Range, Red Mountain Pass and all the way to Coal Bank Pass. SJMG offers this variety of terrain courses in order for you to be fully prepared in any situation up on the mountain.

*We recommend taking their Private Avalanche Course. Check it out HERE for more information!

 2. San Juan Expeditions  

San Juan Expeditions is another great option for an extensive avalanche training course offered in the Durango area. SJE emphasizes on taking you through the entire process step by step in order for you to be fully prepared to take your skiing or riding to the next level. While being guided in the San Juan Mountains, this course will prepare you for whatever backcountry trip you may have on your bucket list. 

*We recommend taking their ski mountaineering course. Check it out HERE for more information! 

3. Silverton Avalanche School

Local and all around fun, the Silverton Avalanche School is a great choice for those who are interested in making the San Juan Mountains in Silverton, CO their destination for backcountry skiing/riding this winter. All courses offered by Silverton Avalanche School are taught by instructors who are recognized members of the American Avalanche Association and the Canadian Avalanche Association. Silverton Avalanche School offers extensive courses for everyone from beginners to pros. Be sure to check out all of the course options that they have to offer.

*We recommend taking their Recreational Level 1 Avalanche Course. Check it out HERE for more information!



Next step is to get your gear! There are plenty of places ar ound Durango where you can find everything you need for your backcountry skiing/riding adventure. Here are our top three favorites:

*For more information on what gear and safety tools to bring with you on your trip, check out this great resource offered by Durango Outdoor Exchange entitled, “What’s in My Pack: San Juan Backcountry Skiing”.



Be sure to check the weather reports and not just the one that is installed on your phone that you check to see how cold it is outside. Be sure to check radar, avalanche warnings, wind speeds, participation and UV exposures. The Powder Project is a good resource for knowing what is happening on the trails you are planning to hit. The Powder Project offers elevation ranges, slope percentages and more! Another fantastic snow report and weather resource is offered by SnoFlo. Snoflo offers stats on snowpack, weather in general, difficulty ranges, elevation and more. Lastly, for general information about avalanche warnings in the area, check out the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. 



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