For those in the know, there is still plenty of time to have an incredible time in the mountains. This is particularly true this year where many parts of North America have seen an above-average snowpack thanks to a late burst of spring precipitation. For the biggest of the big mountains, it means chasing some lines that are unattainable in the winter due to shorter days and unpredictable weather. So if you’re still getting after it, I salute you. And “getting after it” can simply mean stretching the legs with a quick skin. For those looking to make that foray in a more rugged sense, taking that step into uncharted terrain can often feel intimidating.
One of the greatest rites of passage in the life of a backcountry snowboarder (or skier) is that first unguided overnight trip. I mention “unguided” because many folks spend their seasons touring the backcountry by booking a professional to handle logistics and deal with decision making. There is no shame in this, and I firmly believe that it’s better to go with someone who knows what they’re doing than to blindly venture out with ignorance. Guiding others is how I earn a portion of my living so I’d be a hypocrite to discourage this. But I’d rather consider myself an educator than babysitter. The end goal, in my humble viewpoint, is to help others grow the skills and intelligence to find their own way out there, and to do so while being able to come home and do it again the next opportunity. So to only ever go with a guide is selling oneself short – and I hope for all that one day the training wheels come off and each person begins their own personal relationship with nature without someone else making all the decisions for them.