Introduction to Backcountry Skiing

The Level I trip is our most important level for many reasons. It is the introduction to the backcountry for people who have not yet experienced it. It helps you work toward what everyone craves: powder, faces shots, and the camaraderie of skiing in a small group on un-groomed, fresh snow.

At this level, we will ski mostly gentle, open zones or runs with sparse trees with minor access into avalanche terrain. Your guides will offer some instruction, assistance with technique, and tips for you to gain more confidence in your powder skiing/riding ability. This isn’t a true powder clinic like you’d find at a ski area but your guides will outline you with several tips and do their best to advance your skills throughout the day.

Most importantly, you should get more fresh turns with us in 1 day than you have ever had in your life. This alone will help you fine-tune your skills.

Watch this video about our Level I trip:

Skiers and snowboarders at this level are strong intermediates or advanced skiers/riders who:

• have limited powder experiences
• are confident on all blue runs and also will ski/ride black runs at a lift served ski area
• are comfortable making linked, smooth, controlled parallel turns
• are beyond any wedge type or pizza style of skiing technique
• as a snowboarder, you can make fluid heel-to-toe turns, no falling leaf, you can traverse and can stop on both your heel and toe sides
• enjoy new challenges
• seek to build your powder confidence

Unlike the ski area experience where tracks, chop and bumps quickly trash the fresh powder after a few runs, the terrain on Buffalo Pass usually holds snow for weeks after a storm and you’ll be mostly skiing or riding on untracked or mildly tracked snow throughout the day. This untracked experience is the name of the game for us and what you as a level I skier or rider would love to experience over and over again.

Our Level I and Level II trips utilize the same pick ups and drop offs on a variety of ridge lines on Buffalo Pass. Our Level I groups stay mostly out of the aspen forests while sticking to the open glades in blue/black type terrain pitch. Whilst our Level II groups are all already confident in powder and comfortable in trees, our Level I-ers need a little more open terrain to gain confidence and to figure out the powder turn before heading into steeper or thicker treed zones.

Below images are from our Level I trips

Our guides will do their best to start in open and gentle terrain (snow depending) and assess the group. As the day progresses and the group is capable, our guides then have the flexibility to step up the terrain choices and head into possibly steeper or more treed terrain.

Remember that we provide you with complimentary, fat Armada ski’s and Never Summer snowboards designed for powder skiing and riding. These tools help with the float and making your turns pop in the powder. We also provide poles with bigger baskets that help you navigate in the untracked snow.


Guests at this level can ski or ride at an up-tempo pace, are physically fit and already confident in the powder skills. Guests here can pop their powder turns and navigate thru tight aspen forests. At the ski area, these guests actively search out powder and ski black and some double black diamonds ski runs.



Our Level III guests will have unquestionable skills, both in the backcountry and at the ski area. These guests actively seek out the most expert type terrain with the deepest powder available.  Many of our guests in this level have been on other heli or snowcat operations in the past and/or are active backcountry enthusiasts.