Backcountry ski guiding; Avalanche Education

I host people on their holidays outside.  I also teach avalanche classes – from basic to advanced.  In Utah, during the Boreal winter, I guide and/or teach for Utah Mountain Adventures, the Utah Avalanche forecast centre and for the American Avalanche Institute.

At Utah Mountain Adventures (formerly Exum Utah), I guide back country skiing 3-4 days a week during the winter.  The many bowls and basins of the Wasatch Mountains plus our fantastic dry powder, combine to provide a ton of classic tours. Come spring, I guide rock and some mountaineering.  Salt Lake City is blessed (dare I say) with a remarkable variety of rock – from the perfect sea of granite in Little Cottonwood, to limestone in American Fork to quartzite in Big Cottonwood canyon.  Mountain biking around SLC is also world-class.  It’s a bit of a paradise for recreational access, even if the city does sprawl for 60 miles.

As the days grow hot and Obie’s school year finishes, we fly south to New Zealand.  I am from Christchurch originally – the main city on East coast of the South Island.  These days, we are based at Castle Hill Village, 100km west of Christchurch. The Castle Hill Basin is a fantastic place – here’s a quote from my first Press article from 2011:

“I return to the familiar brown scree and tussock set against the deepest blue sky, of the Craigieburn range.  I again experience that old sense of anticipation driving across the Canterbury plains toward the mountains…. There is the place where the snow-filled Torlesse basin beckons, the dip in the hills where the mountains accommodate the mighty Waimakariri as it exits its gorge.  I look for the Sleeping Beauty face at the Torlesse Gap.  Sheep dot the verdant fields as we wind towards the browns and grays of Porter’s Pass.  Changing into lower-gear, we grind over the hill to meet the sweep of the fantastical Castle Hill Basin.   Home again.”

The Craigieburns offer 5 ski areas with two others within spitting distance.  Hugely different from the Utah resorts, the ski and backcountry experience is really special.

While I mostly guide and teach locally (New Zealand Avalanche Centre), I enjoy trips further afield – the Mt Aspiring and Aoraki/Mt Cook areas and I love the chance to return to Canada – where I worked for seven happy years.  The Canadian ski lodges provide a terrific back country ski experience – earning your turns all day, followed by luxurious evenings in the cozy huts.  Most of these trips are an entire week.

Please contact me if you are interested in finding out more about ski touring or avalanche education.

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