Yep, prime ingredient = snow. Every mountain region in the world can have below average snowpack at one time or another. If your region does, don’t be afraid to travel during the spring backcountry ski touring season. The “eastern giants” of the California Sierra are almost always a good call if your local snow is meager. Ditto for Colorado’s high passes such as Red Mountain and Independence Pass. During most spring seasons you’re sure to encounter plenty of white in the Pacific Northwest (as in around 500 inches most years on Mount Hood). If you’re in the Northeastern U.S. you’ve got Tuckerman Ravine, where good spring backcountry skiing seems to happen nearly every year.
Europe can be a good call as well, but know that the Alps are obviously warmer than they used to be, so April can be a better spring touring season than May (which was formerly considered the gold standard). Norway can be very reliable as it’s such a huge, mountainous country from south to north, thus allowing your pick of snowpack by latitude.
In these days of Internet it’s easy to suss out good regional snowpacks. How to get snowpack details? Many regions have amazing telemetry you can access from the web. Google.
It’s been fun sharing our series of 10 tips. I know some were kinda basic, but quite a few newcomers are enjoying our sport so we hope our hints were useful to the tyros out there. As for you old timers, perhaps you got reminded of something — I know we did.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.