Skip to main content

Home Forums Splitboard Talk Forum Dogs in the backcountry

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 28 total)
  • Author
  • #569684

    I am interested in peoples opinions about backcountry skiing with dogs. I don’t have a dog myself but some of my riding partners do, sometimes I ride with a dog and there has not been any real incidents. Lately i have been avoiding riding with my friend and his dog because here in Jackson we have been getting a lot of snow and I enjoy riding steep terrain, my latest opinion of having dogs in the backcountry, is that weather, snow stability and terrain selection should be way more conservative. I am not saying ski sketchy shit on sketchy days w/out the pup and be all set. I think that I ski a fair amount of slide paths, that have the potential to slide, we use caution and ski one at at a time, except for when the dog owner goes then he is immediately chased by his or her dog down the slope. Now we have two triggers on the slope rather than one, I think this increases the probability of the slope sliding. This is just some brainstorming I have been doing, I wanted to get other peoples opinion of this, and if there are any additional precautions other dog skiiers use to help stay safe in the backcountry.


    i don’t take my dog when i expect to do some “real” lines. she loves coming and i love taking her, but in a more serious area or tour its a variable that i don’t want to have to think about. usually when i bring my dog on a tour with other people, i ask what the plans are for the day. if they are anything more than i think she could handle easily, she doesn’t come.

    the whole other can of worms is dogs in the “wilderness” luckily, this isn’t a problem in most of the cascade slackcounrty areas.


    time and a place. I take my dog when I feel he can handle it. I have been leaving him at home lately with the sketchy snowpack. Also a dog was recently killed in an avalanche near Mt Blackmore.(montana)


    Definitely has it’s time and place, for reasons stated above. But I’ve also seen too many people with dogs in bottomless pow, watching the dog wallowing through the fluff just trying to keep his head out of the snow, usually in the middle of the skin track. I regret taking my dog out in some deeper snow after seeing how sore it made her afterwards. Same thing when there is a crusty layer her paws can break through – real tough on their joints. My opinion is dogs are ok if they are well behaved (know not to run in front of people) on mellow terrain without deep snow.


    We take the dogs all the time

    Hell, it’s the reason I got into backcountry years ago.

    At the time, I wasn’t looking for epic lines, or riding only pow all season.

    I just wanted to take my dog riding.

    It’s kept the old girl going strong. She’s 11, she still kills it.

    But while my dog got me and my friend into the backcountry, and bolstered my girlfriend’s desire to hike for turns, I’ve learned there are definitely times you leave them home.

    Big technical lines are obvious. National park status is a no brainer. Hell, the young one is so damn fast, sometimes you just don’t want to take him.

    But if the line between something sliding or not, is my 50lb dog on the slope with me, my cautious ass probably isn’t going to ride it anyway.


    would concur, theres a time and place. deeper snow can be tough…


    a friend of mine kicked off a slab a couple weeks ago (quite large) and ended up burying a dog.


    This is a very interesting topic. My dog died about two years ago quickly succumbing to a type of lymphoma. Prior to that he hiked with me in areas that did not restrict dogs. He was a great companion, but he did not like deer at all, frequently attempting to get into chase mode. Other than that he never strayed from my side when hiking, and would wait patiently if I told him to stay while I crossed something sketchy. I never took him into bc snow.

    For those that do, based on Caminga’s friend’s recent experience with a slab resulting in dog burial, what do you do to safeguard yourself and your friend. I know that many have said the technical stuff causes you to leave your best friend at home. Does anyone outfit him/her with a beacon? Have there been dog burials resulting in safe recovery? Do any of you have your dogs sit and wait for you to cross a tough section and then call them to follow to minimize the risk of both becoming buried? Even though untrained in avalance burial recovery, I think that your best friend would be an asset to finding you if you were the one buried, at least in most cases. They are familiar with your scent and have that bond with you that would make them eager to find their lost friend.

    Great string with many provoking thoughts. I have not drank a Guinness since my Guinness died but you guys have gotten me thinking about how I would act in the bc on trips now as a split boarder with him by my side or at home. He was 125# though, which is a far cry larger than some of your friends in your photos. His size could make a difference in the possible release, although at 210# I think that it would more likely be me triggering some slide than him.

    Thanks for stirring the thoughts of my lost friend and safely enjoy your time and trips with yours.


    personally i think bringing a dog is an added liability, with a very low level of certainty in outcomes(some exceptions) .

    i dont think the worry is about the dog triggering a slide so much as, whats happens to the dog if the slope slides – and how does this affect the resulting actions that are made.

    beacons on dogs – bad news imo, what if you dig up your dog first and time has run out on your partner.


    I take Paddy any time she can climb my track without punching through to her waist. She usually runs down the skin track and meets me at the bottom although she has made some surprise appearances mid run before.


    I generally take my dogs but this season with all the deep snow and sketchy conditions I have been leaving them home pretty often. My wolfdog is less affected by the snowdepth but my Eskimo Dog has short legs and smaller feet. He doesn’t travel as well in deep pow. I see alot of dogs out there who are less equipped than my dogs and they really suffer. Their owners suck at being good dog care providers. There is a right time to take the dogs and those times have been few this season. This morning we saw a very fat lab mix having a terrible time, in fact we were waiting for it to keel over. Plus the poor dog had HUGE snowballs in it’s feet. My girlfriend gave the owner some Musher’s Miracle and she had no idea what it was or what it was for. When I asked her why she had her dog out she said “She’s fine, she wanted to go so bad.” I asked the owner how the dog knew what the conditions were. My girlfriend said”LET’S GO!” I really don’t care for humans very much!


    i would not ski with someone if they had a beacon on their dog. that is a major no-go. with that said, i dont worry about my dog being caught in slides at for the following reasons.

    -i dont take here when there is a risk of a slide
    -dogs have 4 wheel dive and no anchors on their feet, so if she gets in some sluff, she can handle it easily.
    -if you consider you can ride roughly ten times as fast as your dog can run (in a winter snowpack) if you ski cut a hill and it goes, she will probably still be way up hill of you.

    not that it matter because i would never be in this situation, but i am pretty sure if i was buried my dog would do everything she could to find and dig me out.

    to reply to the OP’s question a little more, i think it is bad etiquette to bring your dog on a tour without discussing it with your partner(s)

    i knew it wouldn’t be long before people were posting dog pics in this thread 😉



    I brought up the beacon on a dog point, not for multiple person trips with dogs involved as well. I was thinking of several of the TR’s that I have seen where one rider and one dog are out for a trip together. I loved my dog, but I would never consider diging up a dog before a person, and if all were beaconed up there would be no way to tell them apart. I have been on backcountry hikes where people showed up with their dogs. They either did not think to ask the others, review the rules forbidding dogs on the trails or just did not care. I too would never bring my dog anywhere unless I knew in advance that everyone knew he was coming and was welcome.


    As far as the beacon thing goes, the only logical option I’ve heard of is to use the older (pre 457) style beacons for the dog, so it can’t interfere with the people. And if there is a dog with the group, it might not be a bad idea to have a dog treat in your pocket so there is a good scent if you are buried.


    I have heard of and seen at least a half dozen dogs that got nasty leg cuts from edges when they got too close to a kick turn or someone skiing down. Something to beware of and makes me think it is worthwhile teaching a dog to stay back on a skin track.

    I generally don’t take my dog in the BC, although I xc ski, run, bike, and do pretty much everything else with him. There is just too much that can go wrong. The last time I took him out, I had to huck him off a 5 ft cornice to enter a run, he slowed us down and got exhausted wallowing in deep snow on the exit, and wound up with cantaloupe-sized snowballs on his belly. But I just finished a tour in thigh deep snow with a friend and her dog that did fine, although he spent more time under snow than above. So for me it comes down to conditions, the individual dog, and partners.

    Getting The Look when I put on skins and load my pack still rips my heart out, though.


    A good friend lost his dog in a slide on a bc run near a-basin a few weeks ago. Be careful where you take the pups.

    RIP Jasper


    @shredgnar wrote:

    A good friend lost his dog in a slide on a bc run near a-basin a few weeks ago. Be careful where you take the pups.

    RIP Jasper

    Yeah, I remember that, sad. 😥

    I take my dog with me all the the time. I am definitely very conservative with him. Losing my pooch would devastate me. I think having him make me dial it back is a good thing anyway. Especially in Colorado.

    We do get to play in big terrain when the conditions allow too.

    Photo by Hikeforturns.


    My dogs are my sure bet hiking partners, never come up with lame excuses to stay home.

    On the other hand I ran over Lucy two weeks ago, she usually stays behind but snuck in front of me; those edges are like cuisinart blades. I’d hoped steri strips and super glue would do the trick–NOT–$300 vet bill. Lucy is the second of my dogs that suffered an edge wound, Ed’s cost about $300 as well (about 7 years ago).

    Then there’s my bro Levi, at a year and a half he’ll huck anything I will and then some. Levi blew his cruciate about a month ago bustin the crust, though it more likely happened on an XC tour with my neighbors, so now he’s on the mend as is my pocket wit a $1300 vet bill.

    So its roughly $2000 and counting for the priceless experience with my B.C. dogs.

    I left them home this weekend and I’m sure they hate me.



    I remember janzalo bringing his dog to Hull one time. Not a good idea. The snow in the morning was firm, icy corn. The dog couldn’t get a grip on the steep, icy slope and almost did an 800 ft. slide for life into Rattlesnake Creek.
    We had our best luck bringing his dog as well as my dog to Hull and camping at Camp I, then driving up about 1/2 mile to better snow for skinning and leaving them to guard our camp. The only way to ditch them without them following us was to simply drive away. 😆

    I’ll never forget one time at Squaw, I saw this dude skiing with his pet parrot. One of those huge colorful birds. The bird would fly along with him as he skied. A very well-trained bird. Never left the guys personal air space.
    The guy was a huge hit with the ladies down in the bar later that day…


    I have only taken my dog on one spring trip. I’ve avoided taking him on a number of adventures for many of the reasons listed here. Adding to the challenge is that he is big (120lbs) and deep pow would be the end of him. He enjoys it for a bit but gets tired quickly.

    Despite all that, it’s hard to say no when he’s all kitted up and ready to go:

Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 28 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.