Backcountry skiing in Colorado is the essence of adventure with its opportunity for solitude and untracked powder. Paragon has been guiding in the White River National Forest since 1978. From Vail Pass to Chicago Ridge and everything in-between, we know our snowpack, terrain, and stashes better than anyone else. Let our professional guides instruct you on uphill technique, transitions, and backcountry travel. Earn your turns and enjoy the reward of truly skiing on your own terms. Come experience the other side of Vail with Paragon Guides.
What You Get
- Guides: Maximum participant to guide ratio of 4:1
- The Tour: 6 – 8 hours in length. While we never guarantee perfect conditions, our guides will do their best to deliver untracked, soft snow
- Transportation: We will pick you up and drop you off
- Lunch: Lunch from one of our local vendors and snacks
- Gear: Avalanche gear included (beacon, shovel, probe, pack)
- Rental: Our demo fleet of alpine touring and telemark gear features the latest offerings from Dynafit, Blackcrows, and Blizzard.
Why Paragon Guides
- Experience: Paragon has been guiding backcountry skiing in Colorado since 1978.
- Reputation: The majority of our participants come back year after year. Click HERE to see what our previous clients think about us.
- Terrain: We have one of the most extensive permits in the White River National Forest.
- 1 person $385 per person
- 2 people $225 per person
- 3 people $175 per person
- 4 people $155 per person
Backcountry Skiing Venues:
- Vail, Colorado – Vail Pass
- Leadville, CO – Chicago Ridge
- Vail, Colorado – Spraddle Creek
- Minturn, Colorado – Meadow Mountain
Looking for something less formal and affordable? Join one of our Scheduled Tours on Paragon’s Backcountry Ski Club
Scheduled Tours “Paragon’s Backcountry Ski Club”
Get to know “the other side of Vail” on one of our weekly backcountry ski tours featuring secret stashes, local partners, and spectacular terrain. Destination and tour focus are subject to change depending on snow conditions, weather, group size and skill level.
Backcountry Ski Club Price:
- $10 Vail Pass Recreation Area fee additional (Vail Pass tours only)
- Lunch is ‘Bring your own’ or provided upon request
- Ski rental (AT and Telemark) available through our Ski Demo Center
- Avalanche rescue gear available for rent: Pack, shovel, beacon, probe $20
- Ski Club Punch Card: 6 tours for $500
What is the difference between alpine, cross-country, and backcountry skis?
Alpine skis are great for lift-service ski areas because of their locked down heels, wide bases and metal edges. Little to no flat terrain is encountered with this equipment. Cross-country skis are great for moving over flat to rolling terrain because the equipment is light and kick-and-glide or skating techniques make for efficient travel. Cross-country skis work best on groomed track or on low-angle trails. Ski bases can be waxed or come with textured ‘fish scales.’ Both offer forward glide with minimal backward slide.
Backcountry skis, whether telemark or alpine touring (AT), or randonee, are the best of both styles. They allow a skier to maneuver on flat, rolling or sloped (downhill and uphill) terrain thanks to metal edges and a free-heel climbing position.
Telemark skis have a cable binding with a fully free heel that makes for efficient climbing and a graceful ‘tele’ turn descent. Alpine touring skis have a binding that can be released to allow for for free hill climbing, but then locked down for alpine-style descents.
I’m new to backcountry skiing – is that OK?
If you’re new to backcountry skiing, going on a custom tour with a private guide is a great way to be introduced to the skills, equipment, and terrain that make up the backcountry experience. Your guide will offer tips on efficient backcountry travel – from setting an up-track to removing skins – and will select a tour that complements your skiing ability.
Shouldn’t I be worried about avalanches?
Colorado’s snowpack is notoriously unstable at times and demands your full attention and respect. The potential for avalanches is always our number one safety concern. Big lines in steep terrain in mid-winter is not what we offer. We select conservative routes that are appropriate to the condition of the snowpack, time of year, and size of group. Our guides have a minimum Level II certification from the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). From December through March, Paragon Guides announces the daily avalanche report, issued from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, on KZYR 97.7 FM. We require that all participants wear a beacon and carry a shovel and probe. We provide this equipment on our custom tours and hut trips. Equipment is available for rental if you’re participating on a scheduled Paragon Ski Club tour.
What are climbing skins?
Climbing skins are used on both Telemark and AT skis for uphill travel. Skins are simply a strip of bristled nylon or natural mohair that attaches to the base of the ski. The skin allows the ski to slide forward and grip so that you don’t slip backwards. They’re kind of magical! Once you’re ready to descend, you remove the skins, fold them, and stow them in your pack or jacket until you need them again.
What skis do I need for a backcountry tour?
You have two choices: a backcountry ski with a telemark binding (and telemark boot), or a backcountry ski with an alpine touring (AT) binding (and AT boot). Telemark set-ups allow the skier’s heel to be free both climbing and descending. If you’re new to backcountry skiing, telemark skiing can be challenging to learn without first spending time at a resort. For this reason, alpine skiers who are new to the backcountry often prefer AT equipment, which allows for free-heel climbing and locked heel descending. Paragon Guides’ runs the Vail Valley’s only Dynafit Test Center, exclusively renting and retailing Dynafit AT boots, skis, and skins. Telemark packages are also available for rental at our Backcountry Center.