Enthusiasm for backcountry skiing and snowboarding continues to grow every year, with more and more skiers and snowboarders looking to venture out-of-bounds in search of untracked snow and unique terrain. But accessing those distance peaks requires some skill and knowledge; fortunately there’s Oregon Ski Guides (OSG). OSG offers affordable guided skiing in Central Oregon and Mt. Hood both for groups and for individuals, from first time off-piste adventurers to pros.
Hiring a ski guide might sound like a splurge, but it’s actually a great way to get to the best snow and terrain in the backcountry. OSG Director Pete Keane explains, “Our guides are tuned into the current snow conditions, we exchange info every morning when trips go out and we have guides meetings discussing avalanche and snow conditions.” This depth of local knowledge about the snowpack, weather and terrain allows the guides to identify the very best ski terrain.
With their home office in Bend, OSG offers both scheduled group outings as well as private guiding throughout the winter and spring. OSG clients include locals looking to explore their home turf with the help of an experienced guide, as well as visitors here on vacation, looking to add a day or two of backcountry skiing to their resort vacation.
It’s no surprise that guiding is more sought after in the spring considering the reputation Oregon has for great spring skiing, but for those hearty powder hunters, great conditions also await in the deep winter. OSG focuses on terrain around Bend and Sisters in the winters, expanding to Mt. Hood in the spring.
The guides meet clients in the morning, during winter months it’s at Mt. Bachelor, or alternately at a location in Sisters. The trip into the backcountry starts on a snowmobile equipped with a trailer that can hold up to four people with another on the back of the snowmobile, which maxes out the guided group size at five.
Depending on the storm activity that day, the group will either head out to find prime tree skiing or up into the alpine (above tree line). Keane says, “We always love to go to the alpine and our clients love it because it’s so dramatic up there.” He adds, “Regardless, we go for the best snow.” Prior to hitting the slopes, guides will assess the client’s skill level as well as go over avalanche beacon drills, which is standard in any guided skiing experience.
From there, it’s a day of hunting for the best snow conditions and terrain. Clients can also come to OSG with specific objectives or aspirations for areas they’d like to ski. Guided days can be anywhere from five-to-eight hours out in the elements.
While Keane suggests booking ahead, he also says it’s always worth a try calling on short notice to see if guides are available—OSG can be reached at (541) 312-9242. The cost is on a sliding rate scale depending on group size, anywhere from $380 for a one-on-one outing to $110 per person for a group of five.
OSG also offers a schedule of avalanche education classes through the winter and spring from one- to multi-day classes, as well as re-occurring Introduction to Backcountry Skiing and Riding classes ($175 per person. Offered January 6, January 20, February 9, February 23, 2019).