Level 3: Winter Backpacking

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denali-fault-camp

Key course details

  • Length: 3 days/2 nights
  • Max client/guide ratio: 4:1
  • Max group size: 10, including two guides
  • Primary objective: Learning
  • Teaching level: Intermediate
  • Physical intensity: High
  • Prerequisites & Expectations: Yes
  • Trip itinerary

Who should take this course?

  • Ambitious beginner backpackers with prior winter camping or day-only experience
  • Intermediate and advanced backpackers who have little or no winter experience

Why should you take this trip?

Winter travel is related but notably different than 3-season travel. In particular, it requires a more vigilant attitude, more and changes in gear, and an additional set of skills. On this trip, you will learn how to backpack safely and comfortably in winter conditions, despite this season’s inherent challenges: cold temperatures, stormy weather, avalanche hazards, long nights, snow-covered trails, and moisture management.

I will be the lead guide on this trip, and assisted by Paul Magnanti. This will be the second consecutive year that we have offered this course, and we’re excited to have the opportunity again to share our winter enthusiasm and know-how.

Free demo gear. If you find that your 3-season kit is inadequate in a few areas, my inventory of demo gear may take the edge off new purchases. I have shelters, stoves, and backpacks that are suitable for winter use; winter bags can be rented, as can skis.

Discounts and free product. Every client receives a free copy of my book, The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide. You will also be given a few of my favorite products from Headsweats, Platypus, Sawyer and more; and receive discounts up to 40 percent off purchases with companies like Gossamer Gear, Mountain Laurel Designs, Six Moon Designs, and ULA.

What you will learn

For a full list of subjects taught during this course, view the Curriculum.

Winter backpacking is an extension of 3-season backpacking, so the trip planning framework and many skills are nicely transferable  For example, we’ll conduct an Environmental & Route Condition Assessment before the trip, and we’ll need to know how to navigate and to stay hydrated.

However, it’s more complicated in the winter. We will need skis or snowshoes, probably — plus different footwear, skins, and/or waxes. We will need to know how to identify a route for optimal snow conditions and to navigate safely through avalanche terrain. And we will need to melt snow for water, to prevent our water from freezing, to minimize perspiration during physical activity, and to layer my clothing such that I can make easy and fast adjustments.