Private Ski Guiding in the San Juans
Ski Tours for All Ability Levels
The San Juan Mountains are host to some of the finest backcountry terrain in Colorado. Coal Bank, Molas, and Red Mountain passes allow us to access the best ski tours at, and above, 10,000 feet where pristine powder skiing is just waiting to be had. Our programs are designed to accommodate a wide range of experience levels and skiing background. Whether you’re a perennial resort skier looking to venture into the untracked powder of the backcountry, or an experienced backcountry enthusiast who wants to hit the best tours the area has to offer, we have what it takes to put it together for you.
Custom Tailored Itineraries
Our backcountry ski tours are offered on a private basis, and can be tailored to your needs or desires. We also offer instruction in the following techniques for the first time backcountry traveler:
- Avalanche Awareness
- Avalanche Beacon Use
- Route-finding and planning
- Team travel protocol
- Misc. Backcountry Equipment
- Ascension Techniques
The level of professionalism from San Juan Mountain Guides has just been unparalleled. – Mike Rosenberg, Rocky Mountain Underground Ski Team.
San Juan Ski Tours
Unparalleled Terrain Access
Our high-country tours will impress on any backcountry skier the grand terrain to be found in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Our permit area affords us access to a wide variety of terrain – from the Sneffels Range to the North side of Red Mountain Pass, and then Red Mountain Pass all the way south to Coal Bank Pass. This gives us the ability to customize our route choices to insure we ski the best snow available.
Sample Ski Tours
The backcountry around Red Mountain Pass represents the best backcountry ski touring in Colorado. There is a lifetime worth of skiing to do in the San Juans, but here is a short list of some of the classic tours in the area:
- Deer Creek
- The Pumphouse
- The Backyard
- The Commodore
- Anvil Mountain
- The Cemetary
- U.S. Basin / MacMillan Peak
- West Face of Red #3
- And many, many, more!!
Backcountry Skiing Equipment List
- Day-tour backpack: Internal frame, 25-40 liters. Guides’ pick: BCA Float 32
- Touring skis or splitboard and boots: Skis with alpine-touring or telemark bindings (or splitboard). Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Revert w/ Dynafit bindings
- Skins: for aforementioned skis
- Avalanche Transceiver: Guides’ pick: BCA Tracker 2
- Avy shovel: metal blade is a must
- Helmet: Guides’ pick: Guides’ Pick: Black Diamond Vector
- Socks: Wool or synthetic ski socks
- Base layers: Polyester or silk bottom and top
- Mid-weight top : Synthetic t-shirt and synthetic underwear
- Shell pants: hard shell or soft shell. A pair with side vents are best. Guides’ pick: OR TrailBreaker
- Insulated vest: down or synthetic. Guides’ pick: OR Transcendent
- Hard shell jacket: waterproof and breathable, no insulation. Guides’ Pick: OR Furio
- Gloves: a pair of heavy gloves and a pair of medium weight gloves
- Down jacket: optional, but nice to have
- Hats: one with brim, one for warmth
- Neck Gaiter or Balaclava: optional, but nice to have
- Small thermos: Optional, but nice to have
- Water bottles: 2 liters combined capacity; with bottle insulators. Guides’ pick: Nalgene
- Sunscreen and lip balm: water/sweat-proof
- Personal first-aid kit: for your personal meds/needs; guide will have a large one as well
- Stuff sacks: for convenient packing
- Lunch food: Everything you eat between breakfast and dinner. May include: bagels, dried meats, cheese, trail mix, candy bars, peanut butter, etc…
- Duffel or additional backpack: if your hut necessities will not fit in your touring backpack
Participants should feel competent and comfortable on “Blue” rated runs at ski resorts. Participants should also be in excellent physical condition. We recommend that participants arrive in Durango at least 1 full day prior to traveling with us in the San Juan high country.
1Before Your Trip
Skiing and/or squats: do it. Cardiovascular activities such as running, swimming, and cycling are great to build heart and lung endurance. Taking day hikes with your loaded backpack at a local park will help train your legs for the mileage you will do in the mountains.
2Follow Up Programs
I wanted to let you know JB and I had a totally AMAZING and AWESOME ski weekend with Tyler! We learned so much more than we ever expected and had a ton of fun too! Tyler is a really awesome guide/marriage counselor…I think we can now go into the backcountry without heated discussions ;). He is so very knowledgeable but more importantly he is really great at imparting that knowledge. He was also really great at gearing the weekend towards what we were needing. JB and I now feel like we can go into the backcountry and safely plan our trip, pick our travel routes and travel techniques and most importantly work together to have a great time out their while being safe. I want to thank you also for providing dinner and breakfast in the hut…that was a really nice touch. And the hut…is totally awesome too! We will be highly recommending our friends take this course too! – Erin B.
Durango & Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here
Durango is located in the SW corner of Colorado, at the intersection of the sandstone towers of the desert, and the jagged, San Juan Mountains. A mecca for climbing, hiking, cycling, and foodies; make sure you plan to spend some time in town before and after your SJMG trip.
Ouray is located in the SW corner of Colorado, approximately 30 minutes south of Montrose. Known as “The Switzerland of America”, the town of Ouray is a vibrant outdoor oriented community. All local businesses are very friendly to the ice climbers who flock each winter to climb in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding areas.
Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Durango – La Plata County Airport. Multiple airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, Phoenix, or Dallas. The airport is a 20 minute drive from our office. Many hotels offer a free shuttle pickup. Buckhorn Limousine offers a shuttle as well.
Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Durango. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.
- Denver, CO: 6 hours
- Albuquerque, NM: 3 hours
Hotels: Durango has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suite you best for this trip! Below are just a few options catering to different lodging styles and preferences.
Ouray has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suit you best for this trip!
- Cost Includes:
- Guiding and instruction with an AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
- Avalanche beacon, probe, & shovel
- Ski Boots, skis, and climbing skins are available for rent from our shop for an additional cost.
- Not Included:
- Hotel costs before, during or after the courses
- 5% land use surcharge
- trip cancellation insurance
- personal climbing, skiing, or camping equipment, or gratuities.
- Guide gratuity
- Registration and Cancellation:
- Advance Registration is required for this program. You have the option to either call our office and register via phone or fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email. All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.