Boost Your Backcountry Awareness In Big Sky Country

Avalanche | Photo: D. Lennon
Avalanche | Photo: D. Lennon

The Big Sky backcountry is huge. There are endless opportunities for winter adventures in the surrounding mountains. It's easy to get out and explore the vast mountains that surround our mountain town. With minimal effort you can get far off the beaten path and into the wild. When you do this you're on your own and need to be able to safely navigate the mountain terrain of Big Sky Country at all times.

As winter settles in and snow coats the mountains in a beautiful blanket of white, the mountain environment changes and there are new hazards that every backcountry traveler needs to be aware of - including avalanches.

Skiers, riders, snowshoers, snowmobilers, hunters, and anyone else who ventures into the snowy mountains needs to be aware of avalanches. Snow and avalanches are complex topics and anyone who heads into the backcountry needs to make the effort to boost their backcountry savvy because it can save your life.

Before you venture into the mountains to explore the backcountry of Big Sky:

  • Take An Avalanche Course - An avalanche course is an essential way to learn the basics about snow and avalanches. The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center has a list of classes, courses, and certifications that you can take to boost your knowledge and skills.
  • Get The Gear - Every backcountry traveler needs an avalanche transceiver, shovel, and probe. These are the necessary tools you need to rescue someone buried in an avalanche. You can learn how to use these avalanche tools on your course. Then practice with them regularly so that you are proficient in your avalanche search techniques.
    Avalanche In Beehive Basin | Photo: D. Lennon
    Avalanche In Beehive Basin | Photo: D. Lennon
  • Read The Daily GNFAC Avalanche Advisory - The GNFAC publishes a daily avalanche report for SW Montana all winter long that discusses the snowpack, weather, and avalanche hazard. It's a vital source of information that you need to read every day if you plan to play in wild snow.
  • Hire A Guide - Paying for a backcountry guide is a good way to learn and enjoy the mountains in a safer environment. Montana Alpine Guides (MAG) offers backcountry ski guiding south of Big Sky in the park. Canyon Adventures offers guided snowmobile tours.
  • Go With A Backcountry Partner - Never travel in the backcountry alone. A backcountry partner that you can trust is an essential component of safe backcountry travel. The person you travel with may be the person who you rely on to save your life.

Winter backcountry travel in Big Sky Country can be rewarding and fun, but the mountains must be treated with respect at all times. Whether you're snowshoeing in Beehive Basin, skiing out the backcountry gates on Lone Peak, or snowmobiling on Buck Ridge, you are in the backcountry.

ski mountaineering in big sky
Skiing In Big Sky Backcountry | Photo: D. Lennon

It's your responsibility make your own decisions in the mountains. You are completely on your own out there. Make smart decisions and play it safe.

Always enjoy the backcountry responsibly.

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