Backcountry Ski and Avalanche Education Outfitter and Guiding Opportunity Open – Cooke City Area
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: October 9, 2021

Gardiner and Cooke City, MT- October 6, 2021 – The Gardiner Ranger District, Custer Gallatin National Forest is seeking Outfitters and Guides looking to provide public guiding opportunities for both backcountry skiing and avalanche education on the Gardiner Ranger District, outside Cooke City, MT (only in the non-Wilderness portions of the Forest).

“Our area of the Custer Gallatin National Forest, here in Cooke City, Montana, has a need for high quality, safe guided experiences that increase the skills and knowledge of participants traveling in avalanche terrain during the winter,” said Adam Washebek, Gardiner District, Recreation Program Manager. “These experienced guides will also aim to meet the Forest Service goals of land stewardship and resource protection while operating on Forest.”

Outfitters and Guides interested in the full prospectus and application will want to download documents at: https://usfs-public.box.com/v/cookeprospectus-skiavy. Applications are due December 3, 2021, with notification early in 2022.

The Outfitting and Guiding services specific to this prospectus involve day use services for guided back-country skiing, along with avalanche education courses, all outside of designated Wilderness. The District intends to authorize additional service days for existing permits and/ or authorize a limited number of new special use permits based on application interest.

Permits are good for a two-year period and may be extended, pending fulfillment of the permit needs.

Backcountry Skiing – Backcountry skiers typically own or rent their equipment, however may lack knowledge of the offered area, may not have snowmobiles to access remote ski locations, or know local avalanche terrain and current snow conditions. Additionally, skiing routes may be incorrectly displayed on social media leading new visitors into marginal conditions or terrain beyond their skill levels.

Avalanche Education Courses – Meeting national guidelines by the American Avalanche Association (AAA); courses to be offered include basic avalanche and Avalanche Level 1, or 2.

The Cooke City area is a renowned destination for winter recreationists due to its consistent, deep snowpack and abundant accessible backcountry terrain ideal for skiing and riding from late November – May each winter. The area surrounding Cooke City has a significant amount of avalanche terrain, which has led to many injuries and deaths due to human caused avalanches.

Leading into the new Custer Gallatin Land Management Plan, the area surrounding Cooke City is managed as a Winter Recreation Emphasis area with a desired condition to facilitate guided winter use with a strong emphasis on avalanche safety.