Scheduled Backcountry Ski Tours
Scheduled Tours of the “Paragon Guides Backcountry Ski Club”
Get to know “the other side of Vail” on one of our weekly backcountry ski tours featuring secret pockets, local haunts, and spectacular terrain. Destination and tour focus are subject to change depending on snow conditions, weather, group size and skill level.
- Ski Club season pass: 6 tours for $450
- Transportation provided
- Lunch is ‘Bring your own’ or provided upon request (id=”mce_marker”5)
- Ski rentals available through our Dynafit Test Center
- Avalanche rescue gear available (id=”mce_marker”5)
- Pack, shovel, beacon, probe
Date Tour Location
2014-15 tours will be posted as soon as they are available.
Paragon Guides will be offering two AIARE avalanche classes this winter. Class dates will be posted in late fall.
Paragon Guides also offers Avalanche Awareness classes throughout the winter. These one day tours will focus on snowpack, terrain, skiing protocols and companion rescue.
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.