For serious outdoor adventurers, not much beats the challenges and rewards of backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Climbing a remote mountain peak with the help of skins or snowshoes and enjoying an untracked run down a snow-covered slope can be the adventure of a lifetime, and many who try their hand at backcountry riding end up hooked, eagerly awaiting the first snowfall of the year from then on.

 

To give you an idea of the different backcountry riding areas available all across the country, we’ve picked a few of our favourites to highlight below. Remember that backcountry skiing and snowboarding is a hazardous activity – anyone heading into the mountains should take an avalanche safety course and always carry a beacon, probe and shovel. Canada-wide avalanche conditions can be found at avalanche.ca.

 

Duffey Lake Road

The Duffey Lake Road, or Highway 99, winds its way through the mountains between Pemberton and Lillooet and offers a multitude of backcountry routes, with many of them visible right from the highway. This is classic coastal big-mountain skiing terrain that rarely gets crowded as it is a bit further from Vancouver than the many backcountry routes around Squamish and Whistler. Popular destinations include Rohr Ridge and Mount Rohr, the Cayoosh North Glacier, Mount Matier and Vantage Peak, each offering their own unique challenges and rewards.

 

Image via Youtube

 

Rossland Range

Tucked away in BC’s West Kootenay region, the Rossland Range is a subrange of the Monashee Mountains and is roughly bordered by the cities of Grand Forks, Castlegar and Trail. The mountains here get an average of 12 metres (42 ft) of light, fluffy snow per year, which the locals affectionately refer to as “champagne powder.” If you’re used to the wetter, heavier snow of the west coast, riding here can be a life-changing experience. Backcountry ski routes are plenty and include the various faces and chutes of Old Glory Mountain, Unnecessary Ridge, Mount Plowman and Mount Kirkup. Additionally, there are a number of lift-assisted backcountry ski routes to explore around Red Mountain Resort, or you can visit one of the 16 ski and snowshoe accessed huts in the Strawberry Pass.

 

Image via redresort.com

 

Revelstoke

Tucked between the Monashee Mountains to the west and the Selkirk Mountains to the east, Revelstoke offers a lifetime’s worth of backcountry skiing and snowboarding within its immediate surroundings. Mount MacPherson is one of the most frequented destinations, with routes like The Fingers, The Womb and Burnt Knob offering some world-class riding. If you don’t want to trudge uphill to earn your turns, you can always hit the lifts at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, or enjoy even more backcountry riding at Rogers Pass, found about an hour’s drive to the east. 

 

Photo via seerevelstoke.com

 

Banff National Park

The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) stretches for 230 km between Lake Louise and Jasper and forms the main corridor through Banff National Park, crossing both the Sunwapta Pass (2,035 metres/6,675 ft) and the Bow Summit (2,069 metres/6,788 ft). While many people come here just to drive this incredibly scenic route, the Parkway holds a special place amongst backcountry skiers and snowboarders. There are many lines visible right from the road, and the area receives high volumes of snow due to its close proximity to the continental divide. Popular routes include Observation Peak, Mount Jimmy Jr, Mount Jimmy Simpson, Crowfoot Mountain, Mount Hector and others.

 

Southern Alberta Backroad Mapbook - Page 49

 

Cliff Lake Ridge

While Ontario is not known for its abundance of backcountry skiing opportunities, there are still some routes out there for adventurers ski tourers to discover, including Cliff Lake Ridge. With a vertical of 615 metres (2,020 ft), this route should scratch that backcountry itch. There are some fun descents through open jack pine forest on the northwest slopes, and some more challenging riding through denser forests at the ridge’s south end. For more information on ski touring in the area, visit friendsoftemagami.org

 

Image via backcountryskiingcanada.com

 

Chic Choc Mountains

Located in the centre of the Gaspé Peninsula in eastern Quebec, the Chic Chocs are quickly gaining popularity among backcountry skiers and snowboarders. Mount Jacques Cartier is the highest peak in the range, at 1,268 metres (4,160 ft), but there are a total of 25 peaks over 1,000 metres making for a variety of excellent backcountry options. Mount Albert, Mines Madelaine, and Mount Lyall are all worthy destinations, with the best touring had from January through May.

 

Image via quebecmaritimes.ca

 

Tablelands Mountain Traverse

Although backcountry skiing is most often associated with the mountains of BC and the Alberta Rockies, there are some great touring routes on the east coast as well. One of these is Newfoundland’s Tablelands Mountain Traverse, which leads you through the dramatic alpine of the Long Range Mountains in Gros Morne National Park. The trail takes you through a lengthy gulch to a ski chalet run by the park, offering a place to base camp and explore a number of additional routes in the area.

 

Image via canadiangeographic.ca

 

Chilkoot Pass Area

Situated between the interior continental Yukon plateau and the Alaskan Pacific Coast, the Chilkoot Pass was part of the historic gold rush route for fortune seekers making their way north in the 19th century and now offers s different type of treasure – generous heaps of powder and a multitude of backcountry skiing and snowboarding routes to choose from. As you make your way south from Whitehorse along Highway 2 you will be able to see a number of rideable peaks right from the road, including the beginner-friendly Summit Creek Hill and the more challenging Fraser Peak. One of the most popular routes in the area is Mount Log Cabin, a classic backcountry destination with a descent of around 800 metres (2,625 ft).

 

Photo via yukonbackcountryskiing.com

 

A great online resource for these and many other backcountry routes is backcountryskiingcanada.com, which features an online database of backcountry skiing areas, a user-maintained forum and a selection of printed maps and guidebooks for sale. You can also find detailed maps of the above mentioned areas in our Backroad Mapbooks and GPS Maps.

 

 

Did we miss your favourite backcountry skiing or snowboarding area? Let us know in the comments below or share your backcountry adventures with us on Instagram using #brmblife for the chance to be features on our feed and win prizes.