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State of the Backcountry 2016: Alaska and Tahoe

Wrapping up the Alaska season in style, and milking a few classic runs out of Tahoe before setting off to guide in Iceland for Ice Axe Expeditions, this is a full State of the Backcountry report for the month of April.

It’s springtime in the mountains, which means there’s a deep snowpack across the Northern Hemisphere, and the chance to nail spring skiing at its finest is upon us. Powder becomes a more scarce resource as April will quickly turn into May, but sneaker, cold snow days happen (like it just did in Tahoe), and it’s the melt-freeze cycles of spring, coupled with longer daylight hours that allows for deeper exploration into the backcountry.


As much as spring skiing goes off across the American West, Alaska is still king. March was a stormy one at PNH Tour Camp, and April was no different. In contrary to years past when we got nailed by several multi-foot storms, this season wasn’t as heavy on total precipitation as much as it was on cumulative storm days. Throw in a heavy dose of warmth and negotiating tricky conditions became a theme to our season. All that said, we skied almost everyday, worked with the conditions offered to us, and mitigated the seasonal hazards as they surfaced. Overall, it was another incredible season with staff and clients alike claiming “best run”, “best day”, and “best trip of my life”.

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