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When Old Man Winter Invites You to His Backcountry Party

By McCall Winter Sports Club, 11/14/20, 10:00PM MST


be ready to rsvp with a "yes."

Read what McCall Winter Sports Club's Head Freeski Coach, Austin Wrem, has to say about preparing for touring, skiing, riding and all things in the backcountry this season! 

More than ever before, Winter is calling out to us - and likely more than ever before, people will accept the old man's invitation.  When you get yours for the 20/21 season, will you be ready to partake?  Here are a few helpful things to do so that you are prepared to RSVP with a "YES" for the adventure.  MWSC Head Freeski Coach Austin Wrem also gives his expert advice on the matter. 

Dress for the occasion!

This means shovel, beacon and probe.  If you don't already have these essentials make this a priority to get yours now. 

Coach Austin Wrem says, "The Mammut Barryvox is widely regarded as one of the best beacons on the market, or Backcountry Access (BCA) offers several models in the Tracker line that are still top of the line, but a little more budget friendly. All are offered separately, or together as a package with shovel and probe."

​​​​​​​Get there in style.

Don't save your best for the downhill ride back home.  Set up your ride with bindings and skins that will comfortably and dependably get you out and back.

Tech or pin bindings are recommended for the dedicated backcountry skier. These are also the more expensive options.  Coach Austin Wrem recommends Frame bindings for younger athletes new to touring.  "Frame bindings are middle of the road expense-wise. They are generally the most durable, and still act as a full alpine binding with touring capabilities. Of these, look for something more robust, such as Marker's Baron or F12, Salomon's Guardian, or Tyrolia's Adrenaline.​​​" 

"The biggest thing with skins is to stay away from anything labelled 'race' or 'speed.' Look for Black Diamond Glidelite mix, BCA Magic Carpet, or G3 Escapist or Alpinist. Both G3 lines are offered in several variations, look for the Universal versions to start."

Line up the date with others you trust. 

MWSC's Backcountry Boot Camp is a great avenue to build your posse and proficiency for the sport of backcountry skiing & riding.  This 4-day camp teaches athletes to assess avalanche potential, properly use rescue equipment and travel safely in Winter's backcountry - and Brundage Mountain's sidecountry! Any intermediate to advanced skier 12-18 years-old is invited to register. All MWSC athletes on the Freeski Team have already been rostered for the camp as this camp officially kicks off the team's season. 

If you don't meet this age or team criteria, don't sweat it. Erik "Fish" Fisher(Program Director) and Austin are working to create opportunities for MWSC's older Alpine Racers and all parents! 

Additionally, Payette Powder Guides offers  AIARE level 1, 2 and avalanche rescue courses with options for private courses. If this is of interest get in touch with them soon, as guides around the country are being booked up fast. For online resources,  Austin suggests starting with the free courses at "They have a great program I use myself frequently as a refresher."

Don't arrive before the party starts - the band doesn't need your help setting up. 

Austin cautions to remember the adage “Enough to ride, enough to slide.” Just because there's little snow coverage doesn't mean it won't wipe you off your feet. "It was this time a few years ago that a friend and I went out for some early season turns near Bozeman and came across the aftermath of two hunters being caught in an avalanche. Both were hospitalized, but luckily survived. Another factor to consider is the still exposed hazards of early season riding. Be smart, stay safe, but still go have some fun. I’ll probably be out there too."

Coach Austin Wrem

Coach Austin Wrem - always heading out with style!

This will be Austin's 3rd season coaching the Big Mountain Freeski Team.  If you have personally spoken with Austin about gear, terrain, adventures, beta, etc......then you likely know that he has so, so, so much more to say on the topic:-)  

Kellen Crawford

Kellen Crawford, a Big Mountain and Pro Track Alumni, got new skis, bindings, boots and poles with the Bob Greenwood Scholarship he was awarded last year.

Kellen with Gear

Kellen's Set-Up:
Tyrolia Attack 13 AT Demo bindings.
Elan Ripstick 96, 181 length skis.
4 Front touring poles.
Rossignol Touring boots.

Special thanks to Bogus Basin Ski Club and Little Ski Hill for making the Bob Greenwood Athlete Scholarships available to McCall Winter Sports Club athletes! Kellen Crawford was a Big Mountain athlete recipient last year and got himself a new touring set-up. 

MWSC Partner Shops

McCall Winter Sports Club is proud to partner with local shops for ski and snowboard equipment!  Home Town Sports(McCall), Gravity Sports(McCall), The Fall Line Shop(Brundage Mountain Resort) and Greenwood's Ski Haus(Boise) carry a good variety of options for the backcountry skier. Check them out!