Where You Can Ski Right Now and Backcountry Basics

For those of us who live and breathe snow season, these past few months have been a challenge. Most ski resorts worldwide are closed and with stay-at-home orders in place across the country, the stoke is low — but keep your chin up. While you might not be able to get out and hit the slopes like usual, there are still options for getting out and skiing.

Skier on a mountain top

If you happen to be overseas right now, there are open ski resorts in certain countries that may be accessible to you. For those of you in North America, the backcountry remains your primary option for getting out — but if you plan on going that route, it’s important to take precautions, have the right knowledge and equipment, and stay local before setting out on your own.

Ski Overseas

The start of last week brought fresh snowfall to much of the Alps and the Pyrenees, with Scandinavia boasting most of the currently open ski resorts. According to a report recently released by the Snow Forecast, about a dozen ski areas are open right now, including two locations in Sweden, half a dozen in Norway, and the Kizsteinhorn — among the first areas in Austria to announce its re-opening.

Child cross country skiing

Norway is the world’s epicenter for skiing right now, with the country having re-opened most of its smaller resorts over the past few weeks and glacial areas soon to follow. The Fonna Glacier is officially re-opened for its 2020 season, with fresh snowfall and a solid base serving as an enticing compliment. In Sweden, Riksgransen remains open, its status bolstered by fresh snow,all open pistes, and 4 out of its 6 lifts currently in operation.

In Japan, most of the ski areas that re-opened a few weeks ago have closed again after another spike in cases, but the Gassan ski area plans to re-open on May 11th and currently boasts a 30-foot snow base.

Backcountry Basics

While governments have closed most ski resorts worldwide, the remote backcountry remains a viable option for those looking to get outdoors. The caveat? Not everyone is equipped with the gear and the knowledge to safely travel the backcountry, and despite taking all of the extra precautions possible, the remote nature and unpredictability make going skiing in the backcountry a questionable decision in terms of safety. With healthcare resources strained across the nation, experts are pleading outdoor enthusiasts to stay safe and do everything in their power to avoid accidents or search and rescue scenarios.

Two people skiing in the backcountry

With that in mind, there are ways to ski the backcountry safely, given you have the knowledge and equipment to do so. Here are a few tips

  • 1. Always carry avalanche safety equipment, including a transceiver, probe, and shovel.
  • 2. Analyze snowpack stability and avoid any even remotely questionable areas.
  • 3. Avoid crowded trailheads and groups of people while ensuring you’re maintaining mandated social distancing measures.
  • 4. Pick an area to ski well below your comfort level. Now is not the time for pushing your skills, so find an area easily within your abilities and just enjoy the fact you can get out on the snow.
  • 5. While going solo is the easiest option for most people right now, if you have a household member you can get out with, go together. If your only option is to go solo, make sure to provide a trusted friend or family member with a detailed itinerary before you go.

Other Options

If you enjoy cross country skiing and have the proper gear available, find somewhere remote to get out and ski cross country. It’s on the safer end of the spectrum in terms of snow sports and is a great way to get outside and soak in some fresh air. Be sure to stay local, avoid crowds, and follow your area’s recommendations for social distancing.
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