By BCA Pro Athlete Carter Snow
The backcountry and sidecountry in the East Coast is often heavily wooded, making it difficult or nearly impossible to ski. For years, many members of the New England backcountry skiing community have fought for the right to glade and trim sections of forest to make these areas more optimal for backcountry skiing. But thanks to organizations such as R.A.S.T.A (Rochester Area Sports Trails Alliance) and the Vermont Backcountry Alliance and the supporting local community, the fight over backcountry tree pruning has come to an end.
Shared Lines, produced by T-Bar Films.
Backcountry trimming has been commonplace on the East for years. Growing up, nearly everything that we skied was pruned to perfection by the woodsmen and skiers whom were part of the local diehard backcountry community. Due to local legislation preventing this sort of behavior, this trimming was done quietly. Rainy fall days, before the leaves had fallen, were the ideal setting to muffle the noise of the short chainsaw burps needed to clear that one big piece of dead fall. These under-the-radar one-man operations set the ball rolling for backcountry skiing in the east. Without these pioneers, much of the East Coast’s below treeline backcountry terrain would be unskiable.As the desire to enter the backcountry grew in popularity in the East, the community saw a need for a more legitimate way to open up new areas for skiing. Groups like R.A.S.T.A. and the Granite Backcountry Alliance, arose in the wake of this new demand. These groups were formed with the shared mission of legally gaining access and rights to create and maintain new zones for backcountry skiing.
Since R.A.S.T.A’s formation in 2013, the organization has had two very successful glade projects and have opened several summer multi-use trails in the region. Thanks to organizations like R.A.S.T.A., several backcountry areas in the East now offer a multitude of gladed runs with up to 1,000 vertical feet of skiing. New England’s Backcountry alliance is working to create access for everyone, young and old.
R.A.S.T.A. is leading the way for backcountry skiing development in the East. In a sport deeply rooted in secrecy of personal stashes, these guys are lifting the curtains and allowing widespread access. Initially, I was skeptical of these groups working toward a more public effort to develop backcountry skiing at many of the local “secret stashes.” To me, it seemed like these organizations would be taking away the fresh tracks and adventure appeal that draw people to backcountry skiing. But the truth is that R.A.S.T.A. is not blowing up your secret stash. BCA athlete Carter Snow shreds one of his favorite East Coast backcountry zones. Location: secret. Photo: Matt Kiedaisch.
In fact, they’re working with the USFS and private landowners to open up new terrain that would be otherwise be inaccessible. And to be honest, if R.A.S.T.A.. did by some circumstance make your secret stash readily available to the public, then it probably wasn’t as secret as you thought it was. These organizations are creating a community of like-minded individuals with the common goal of developing backcountry skiing. These areas provide a place for beginners to learn about the sport of backcountry skiing in the presence of experienced backcountry users. This is only the beginning. I, along with the rest of the East Coast backcountry skiing community, are extremely excited to see what the future has to offer.
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Carter Snow is a 21-year-old big mountain, sled ridin’, gun shootin’, pillow crushin’, soul skier. Originally from Vermont, Carter is currently working toward his degree at Montana State University. When not in the classroom (most of the time), Carter can be found skiing at Bridger Bowl, riding his sled, hunting, riding his SUP, or doing what he lovingly refers to as “timbersports.” Follow him @cartersnowin.