Backcountry skiing in Mt. Washington Valley, NH and Maine has gained increasing popularity year after year. And it's no surprise. The White Mountains are the starting point for many an outdoor adventure, and are steeped in history. Some of the first trails taken by backcountry skiers reside in Mt. Washington Valley. Trails leading up to Mount Washington are revered in the mountaineering and skiing worlds for its uncut experience of skiing in the wild.
That admiration has spilled over into organizations such as Granite Backcountry Alliance, a non-profit that works to develop ski glades, and improve the foundation of the sport by creating partnerships with landowners, providing education regarding safety and ecological awareness, and creating a unified culture that respects the land. Other sources to tap into the passion for backcountry skiing include guiding outfitters - many of which are listed below - who can lead you on a backcountry skiing adventure that is safe, educational, and entertaining.
The Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce highly suggests hiring a guide for backcountry ski adventures. Below we outline three important reasons as to why its imperative visitors looking for a backcountry skiing adventure in the White Mountains, do so with the expert advice of a guide.
Before you hire a guide, first, we implore you take the MWV Pledge to promise to protect them! Sign your name and join the others who pledge to care for the White Mountain National forest to ensure it sticks around for years to come!
Once you do that, go forward and hire a guide! Reserving a backcountry skiing adventure with a professional guide has a myriad of benefits. Three that are at the top of our list are:
1) Support the local economy! Mt. Washington Valley guides have dedicated their life to the White Mountains. They live, work, and play in these mountains, and support the outdoor economy that works to preserve this forest.
2) Safety! The guides of Mt. Washington Valley have years of market research and hands-on training when it comes to troubleshooting weather, mapping trails, equipment, and more. They’ve seen and done it all in the White Mountains, and know how to address any situation once you’re out on the trail.
3) Fun! You’ll see the White Mountains through a whole new set of eyes. Tap into the years of experience that many of these guides have. They’ll share their favorite hiking stories, historical anecdotes of the trails, and maybe even impart some of their tried-and-true hiking tips with you.
Redline Guiding guides know the White Mountain Forest and its backcountry trails like the back of their hands. With choice backcountry ski trails, including Mount Washington's ravines and gullies, as well as the hand-cut trails created through the Civilian Conservation Corp trails, the guides at Redline Guiding can take you along , sunrise and sunset tours, frozen river, lake, and waterfall tours, fire roads, closed trails, rail grades, secluded forest tours through pristine woodlands, and more.
AMC Highland Center and Joe Dodge Lodge are two adventure centers overseen by the Appalachian Mountain Club. The Highland Center is located in Crawford Notch, off of route 302, and the Joe Dodge Lodge is in Pinkham Notch off of route 16. Both offer overnight accommodations and guided adventures for individuals and groups. Staff-led trips are customized for adults, children, teens and groups.
International Mountain Climbing School, and its instructors are experts in the field. They have years of backcountry ski experience all over the Northeast and North America. It offers scheduled courses, clinics and trips for climbers and skiers of all levels of experience and ability. All of the programs it offers may be booked by private arrangement for individuals or groups. Private guiding allows your needs to be addressed in a personalized manner and has proven to be an excellent way for individuals and groups to learn at their own pace. Its guides are flexible and love a new adventure.
Bretton Woods backcountry skiing adventures are led by Steve Nichipor, its head guide who has been guiding backcountry skiing and teaching avalanche safety in the White Mountains and across the country for over 25 years. For experienced Alpine skiers who want to learn the basics to get out and enjoy the backcountry of the White Mountains and beyond., Bretton Woods' backcountry skiing program will teach you about efficient uphill travel with climbing skins, basics of avalanche safety, and you'll get some runs in. This is a half day program that can be run in the morning or afternoon. Advance reservations are required.
And of course, in celebration of backcountry skiing, you won't want to miss the Mt. Washington Backcountry Ski Festival; a three-day, long weekend event presented in February. It's the Northeast's premier backcountry ski festival that focuses on guided ski tours, friendly competition, live music and vibrant parties.
It's also important to acknowledge that the land that provides such fertile ground for backcountry skiing in Mt. Washington was once occupied by the Abenaki. While the formation of this tribe is much more nuanced, and includes much smaller bands of people that divided themselves into groups with the names of Penacook, Winnipesaukee, Pigwacket, Sokoki, Cowasuck, and Ossipee; they all spoke related dialects of the Abenaki language. (The Abenaki language is also part of a greater whole, and a dialect of the Algonquin language spoken by all Native Americans who inhabited the North East.)
Sadly, much of the history of the indigenous tribes that once walked this land has been lost and misunderstood over the years, but what we do know is this; the first people who inhabited New Hampshire did so roughly 11,000 years ago. The US Forest Service has designated twenty-one known sites within the White Mountain National Forest that hold spiritual, agricultural, and historical meaning for the Indigenous people of New Hampshire. These sites are federally protected, and regularly studied and archived with the NH Archaeological Society and the state of New Hampshire.
From these descendants, the Abenaki tribes formed, and hunted and lived throughout the White Mountain National Forest. You can learn more about the White Mountain National Forest's native history through this blog post.
For complete trip planning resources and information, visit visitmwv.com or call 800-367-3364 (800-DO-SEE-NH) to talk to a Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce rep. To learn more about New Hampshire vacations, go to www.VisitNH.gov.