The 10 (Dating) Commitments of Choosing Backcountry Slopes

SnowBrains | | Post Tag for BrainsBrains
Skiing the backcountry is committing.
Backcountry line selecting is a lot like dating. Credit: SnowBrains

Brought to you by SCARPA Backcountry Week

Backcountry skiing is inherently dangerous. A lot goes into learning what slopes are safe to ski which day and which ones aren’t. Having the right gear and checking the avalanche forecast before you go out is crucial. But there may also be a train of thought that can assist you when navigating the backcountry and deciding which lines to ski, brought to you by long-time IFMGA guide Mark Smiley and founder of the revolutionary online avalanche safety course Mountain Sense.

Think of the slope you are about to ski as a dating relationship. How committed are you ready to be?


1. I’d swipe right!

2. Let’s meet up for a date

3. Dating exclusively

4. Calling one another boyfriend/girlfriend

5. Changing FB relationship status

6. Engagement

7. Marriage with a prenuptial agreement

8. Marriage, no prenup

9. Marriage, no prenup, and a house

10. Marriage, no prenup, a house, and kids

As you decide to commit to higher levels, you need to answer more questions. Before I commit to level one, all I need to know is that it just snowed a bunch and I’m stoked. That would be like a low angle tree run. Level 10 would be like skiing the Caroline Face on Mt Cook (Google it). You have to climb up a different way, drop-in, rappel and pull your ropes and ski under a bunch of seracs. So you better have all your personal skills in check, have eyes on the slope prior to going, have a good rescue plan, and have your will in order!

Use the LEVELS to start the discussion with your partner. How big is this line in your mind? What signs do we need to look for to increase our confidence? What dangers do we need to be mindful of? Is there an out?

The main take away is that the more committing a line is, the more info you better know in order to not be blindsided with a messy divorce!

Caroline Face Ascent
The EXTREMELY technical ascent of Caroline Face on Mt. Cook, New Zealand. Credit:

Related Articles

3 thoughts on “The 10 (Dating) Commitments of Choosing Backcountry Slopes

  1. this is funny to me because I recently went on a first date on a backcountry ski tour and it didn’t go well

Got an opinion? Let us know...