The 2020-2021 winter season faces unprecedented changes from prior decades of ski-resort culture. With great uncertainty looming over whether ski areas will be able to turn chair lifts or operate at normal capacities next winter, undoubtedly more folks will head into the backcountry than ever before. Instead of treating the issue like a jaded local losing their fresh tracks, Unofficial Networks would gently like to remind you what to do to get prepared for a season with vastly less resort laps.
Take some time and complete the awesome/totally free ‘Know Before You Go’ online class presented by the Utah Avalanche Center. It is no substitute for an avalanche course or field time, but a great way to start thinking about backcountry safety and the threat of avalanche danger. If available in your area take it a step further, sign up for a local avalanche class and elevate your knowledge to the next level.
Get the gear!
Instead of piecing together your next resort set-up, invest that hard earned summer money into avalanche rescue gear and touring equipment. If you don’t already have a beacon/shovel/probe, now is an excellent time to compile these backcountry essentials. Then once you have the mandatory safety gear, maybe it’s the time to step up from AT bindings to a lighter touring setup or graduate from snowshoes to a splitboard. Your gear spending also has great power in supporting small core businesses, which are struggling with slower sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research new zones!
As much as we love ski trips, this coming winter will be a time to focus on exploring the backyard not the globe. Go buy some local topo maps or puzzle over Google maps to find new (and nearby) areas to earn your turns when the flakes start falling. Not only is it a great idea to plan out where you want to ski next winter, but it will help to build your excitement for the coming season.