Frequently Asked Questions - Utah Backcountry Skiing

Frequently Asked Questions - Backcountry Skiing / Snowboarding

Can I get to the "goods" without climbing uphill?

Basically, no. All the slopes available from the top of chairlifts get tracked out quickly. UMA groups either climb uphill on skins to begin a tour, or after exiting from a ski resort boundary, skins are used to get to subsequent runs.

Are my own skis ok?

Only if they have a touring binding that allows the heel to be released for climbing uphill with skins.

I'm a snowboarder. Can I use my own board?

Yes, but you will have to climb uphill on snowshoes and carry the board on your backpack. We recommend split-snowboards because they are much more efficient. These are available to rent from UMA with custom fitted skins and telescoping poles with powder baskets. These are also compatible with regular snowboard boots

Climbers on Wasatch Summit

Utah Backcountry Skiing

Photo by Tyson Bradley

Does the split-board perform well?

Yes, in powder most riders do not notice a performance drop compared to a solid board. In hard, icy snow, however, there is definitely a difference.

Video: How a Splitboard Works


Do I have to telemark?

No. Most newcomers to the backcountry go on Alpine Touring (AT) skis. The heel is free in the uphill climb, but fixed down like normal alpine skis for the descent. You can use regular alpine boots or specialized AT boots, which are available for rent at local shops.

Do I need climbing skins?

Yes, 95% of UMA ski and snowboard tours require uphill travel, and skins are by far the most efficient way. Skins attach to the base of skis or split-snowboards, peel off at the top of the run and get stowed in a pocket for the downhill fun.

Can I tour into White Pine Gulch from Snowbird without skins?

Yes, this is the 5% exception, but this access point is only open about 10% of the time. Even then, if skins are not used, it's only possible to make one run.

Can I rent an AT setup from UMA?

Yes, UMA has a fleet of early rise tip, wide powder skis with Fritschi AT bindings, custom fit skins, and telescoping poles with powder baskets available to rent to our guests. The guide will bring these to you on the day of the outing. Our bindings are compatible with any alpine or AT ski boot, but boots are not included in the rental.

Where do I meet my guide?

The guide will arrange a specific meeting location and time with you specifically. Most commonly, this location is the Big Cottonwood Canyon Park & Ride lot.

Contact UMA if you have any questions:

Call (801) 550-3986 or email us at

Utah Mountain Adventures

P.O. Box 521809

Salt Lake City, Utah 84152-1809

Phone: (801) 550 3986

Fax: (801) 486 8505


Utah Mountain Adventures | Patagonia Utah Mountain Adventures | Forest Service Backcountry Skiing Utah, by Tyson Bradley