Knowing how to read a topographic map is the foundation to any backcountry adventure. Through the use of contour lines, topo maps bring a 3-dimensional element to a 2-dimensional paper map. Visualize the rise and fall of the land, and “see” the depths of canyons, the location of boggy meadows, and the height and shape of a mountain. Learn how to read topo maps like a pro.
Exploring great backcountry terrain often goes hand in hand with the threat of avalanches, but with careful route planning and rational terrain management, dangerous slides can largely be avoided. Before you head into the backcountry, brush up on how to use the best maps to identify avalanche terrain and plan the safest routes.
Winter hiking offers the ability to test out new skills, push your physical limits, and experience the beauty of a snowy landscape. But the same things that make winter hiking wonderful, can also make it more dangerous. Read our winter hiking safety guide to learn about winter hazards and how to pack for a snow-bound excursion.
No more trial-and-error in driving up to the trailhead to find the deepest and lightest powder. The new Snow Stations (Daily) map gives you up-to-date, 24-hour reports on snow conditions in remote areas around the western US and British Columbia. Check out the new map to get a look at real-time conditions on peaks and passes in your favorite backcountry zones.
Now you can get official, up-to-date avalanche forecasts directly from the map on your phone. Simply pair the Avalanche Forecast layer with your favorite map to get the color-coded North American Avalanche Danger scale for your region. Whether you’re skiing couloirs or snowmobiling the back bowls, add this must-have feature to your avalanche safety toolkit. Read more about the Avalanche Forecast layer.
The upcoming backcountry ski season might not be pretty. That’s what Search and Rescue mission coordinator Charles Pitman warns on this episode of the Out and Back Podcast. Since the pandemic hit, search and rescue calls have been higher than ever in Pitman’s jurisdiction of Summit County, CO. And he’s expecting those numbers to climb even higher as soon as the snow flies. Learn what you can do to stay safer in the wilderness this winter.
When you think of the Himalayas, images of Everest and K2 probably come to mind. But scaling those formidable peaks only scratches the surface of what the region has to offer. Ski mountaineer Luke Smithwick has made it his goal to ski 500 beautiful and iconic backcountry lines in the world’s highest and most expansive mountain range. Tune in to the Out and Back podcast to learn why Smithwick thinks Himalayan backcountry skiing is worth a trip halfway around the world.
Big Mountain skier Sophia Schwartz teams up the Sean McCoy, the editorial director of GearJunkie, to highlight their favorite backcountry ski gear this year. Tune in to learn more about avalanche airbags, beacons, climbing skins, and more.