Top reasons to backcountry ski in the San Juan Mountains
Endless opportunities await on hundreds of miles of untracked snow
Enjoy the privacy and comfort of a modern backcountry hut
Soak up the magnificent vistas of San Juan’s high country
The rugged shoulders of the San Juan Mountain Range annually see 300 days of sunshine and equally as many inches of snow. Spread across the broad expanses of untamed terrain, these blankets of pure white beckon the bold to carve their tracks into the mountainside. You haven’t truly experienced skiing until you’ve ventured into the backcountry—tried out the pristine slopes hidden away from the crowded pistes and spent the night in a cozy mountain hut enveloped by the wilderness. Add an expert local guide to the equation and you’re in for one unforgettable skiing trip. Find out more about backcountry skiing in Colorado from adventure travel writer Ali Carr.
December through April
Denver is 5.5 hours away
2 days minimum
Beginner to advanced
Book this adventure
Multi-Day Ski Hut Trip in the San Juan Mountains
This Colorado winter adventure designed for ski lovers of all tastes and abilities is your opportunity to enjoy a taste of the Alps without even crossing the Pond. Feast your eyes on San Juan’s high alpine basins and enticing descents while enjoying a warm drink from the comfort of your cozy backcountry lodge. Then head out into the glorious backcountry and explore the secret stashes and hidden runs of the beautiful ski zones of the San Juan Mountain Range.
Meet your guides
AMGA Certified Ski Guide and Co-Owner/Lead Guide of Mountain TripAMGA Certified Ski Guide and Co-Owner/Lead Guide of Mountain Trip
AMGA Certified Ski Guide and Co-Owner/Lead Guide of Mountain Trip
I had an amazing backcountry skiing trip with my guide Fischer. He was super nice and taught me a lot about avalanche safety, using skins, and living in telluride. He and everyone at Mountain Trip communicated with me a lot and helped me to prepare for our trip. Renting gear was no problem and they even lent me extra stuff that wasn’t up for rent. Overall super friendly and super helpful. The trip was amazing and I recommend it to anyone that loves skiing and wants to learn about and experience the backcountry!
I had an absolute blast on my two day backcountry skiing trip. Kaylee and the team were extremely helpful prior to my arrival. They helped guide me through some product selections and listened to what I wanted out of the trip. They set me up with Mason as a guide. He was extremely knowledgeable and set me up one some epic lines.
Things to know
Covid measures in Colorado
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Colorado, please refer to the Official Colorado COVID-19 Update Website.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!
What you get in this adventure:
- An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- All necessary protective equipment where it is required
- Assistance in arranging post-trip activities in the area
- Accomodation in a backcountry ski hut
- At least two full days in the field
What’s not included:
- Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
- Accommodation in Telluride
- Food and snacks
How fit do I need to be?
In order to enjoy this backcountry adventure, you need to have a moderate level of fitness. You will be on your feet for a full day. While there is terrain for all skill levels in the San Juan Mountains, you will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on challenging blue or black level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.
What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?
Backcountry skiing isn’t just for pros looking for the ultimate thrill ride, it’s also beginner-friendly, meaning anyone with challenging blue or black level resort experience can have fun in the backcountry. If you’ve never backcountry skied before, heading out with a guide is your best bet. They’ll take care of the planning, introduce you to the basics, like skinning uphill, and teach you how to manage the terrain. They also have the experience and avalanche training to keep you safe.
What equipment do I need to bring?
For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:
- Alpine touring skis, telemark skis or splitboard with skins (can be rented)
- Touring boots and poles (can be rented)
- Avalanche safety equipment (can be rented):
- Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
- Lightweight snow shovel
- Avalanche probe
For personal items, we recommend bringing:
- Sunglasses or ski goggles
- Gloves and hat
- Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-Tex recommended)
- Ski pants (Gore-Tex recommended)
- Down jacket or vest
- Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
- One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
- Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
- Water bottle and 1L of water
- Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
- Food you can eat on-the-go
- First-aid kit
- Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
- Camera — optional
Can I rent equipment?
All mandatory gear can be rented in local gear shops or from the guide shop’s selection of loaner and rental gear. You can rent:
- Avalanche safety pack, including backpack, beacon, shovel and probe
- Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots and poles
Ski rental locations are in Telluride and Ouray and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.
Group sizes and age requirements
Group sizes and pricing:
- For this adventure, the max client to guide ratio is 5:1.
- Costs per person decrease as the group grows for private lessons, so it’s the perfect opportunity to climb with friends and family.
Ski touring in the San Juan Mountains can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.
Min. age requirements:
- If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
- Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis.
If your group has skiers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Getting there and meeting location
The departure location is usually the company’s office in Telluride. Since Telluride is a very remote town, the quickest way there is flying. Only a few airlines fly directly into town, while others usually offer flights to nearby Cortez and Montrose. It’s a 1.5-hour drive from both towns to Telluride, while Grand Junction is only 2.5 hours away. From there, you’ll head to your tour.
The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ski ability of the group.