Ski the Peaks

Ski the Peaks

Single-day Ski Mountaineering objectives

Ever had the desire to climb a mountain and then ski down it? This is your chance to enjoy the thrill of ski mountaineering in Colorado at it’s finest. It’s no secret that the San Juan Mountains are host to the best backcountry skiing in the Colorado Rockies. Late winter and early spring is the perfect time of year to take advantage of generally more stable snow conditions on some of the area’s most sought after 12,000 and 13,000 ft. peak ski descents. The payoff – an unforgettable 3,000 – 5,000 foot ski descent! Join us for a full day, true Colorado ski mountaineering adventure.

Though ski or snowboarding experience is required for all of our Ski the Peaks programs, you don’t need to be an expert backcountry skier/boarder to participate in these classics.Please give us a call if you have any question about which peak might best suit your ability level and desire.

The level of professionalism from San Juan Mountain Guides has just been unparalleled. – Mike Rosenberg, Rocky Mountain Underground Ski Team.


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The Objectives

If the dates of our regularly scheduled Ski the Peaks programs do not fit your schedule we can also arrange for private guided trips and spring ski descents on other area classics such as:

  • North Twilight Peak (13,075ft.)
  • The Grand Turk (13,148 ft.)
  • Sultan Mountain (13,368 ft.)
  • Bear Mountain (12,987 ft.)
  • Red Mountain #3 (12,890 ft.)
  • Kendall Mountain (13,114 ft.)
  • The Battleship (12,424 ft)
  • North and South Lookout Peaks (13,232 ft)
  • Mt Sneffels (14,152 ft.)
  • Chicago Basin 14′ers

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
  • Probe
  • Avy shovel: metal blade is a must
  • Alpine ice axe: 55-65 cm. Guides’ pick: Raven Ultra
  • Crampons: general mountaineering crampons. Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Sabretooth
  • Ski crampons: to fit your skis/bindings
  • Harness: Adjustable leg loops to fit over layers of clothes. Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Couloir
  • Locking carabiner: Pear shaped, wide mouth
  • Belay / rappel device: ATC or similar.
  • 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
  • Sunglasses
  • Goggles

Other Stuff

  • 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
  • Headlamp
  • Toiletries
  • Personal first-aid kit: for your personal meds/needs; guide will have a large one as well
  • Stuff sacks: for convenient packing
  • Camera
  • 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 “Black” 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.

Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here

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.

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Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Montrose, CO. Many airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, CO. It is also possible to fly into Durango, CO, Telluride, CO, or Albuquerque, NM. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of either of these airports.

Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Ouray. 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.

  • Montrose, CO: 45 mins
  • Durango, CO: 2 hours
  • Denver, CO: 6 hours
  • Albuquerque, NM: 4.5 hours
  • Salt Lake City, UT: 6 hours

Hotels: 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 suite you best for this trip!

  • Box Canyon Lodge
  • Ouray Chalet
  • San Juan Chalet

Additional Information

  • Cost Includes:
  • Guiding and instruction with an AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
  • Avalanche probe, shovel, and beacon
  • 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, fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email, or utilize our secure Online Reservation System.  All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.

Download the pdf Form

Register Now Online

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