A website dedicated to the blissful pursuit of the backcountry experience, wherever mountains rise,


The Alps, one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretch approximately 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) across seven countries from Austria and Slovenia in the east, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, France to the west and Italy and Monaco to the south. The Alps were formed over hundreds of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided; the extreme compression caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentation rising and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at 4,810.45 m (15,782 ft) is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains many peaks higher than 4,000 m (13,123 ft), known as the "four-thousanders".

The altitude and size of the range affects the climate in Europe; in the mountains precipitation levels vary greatly and climatic conditions consist of distinct zones. Wildlife such as ibex live in the higher peaks to elevations of 3,400 m (11,155 ft), and plants such as Edelweiss grow in rocky areas in lower elevations as well as in higher elevations. Evidence of human habitation in the Alps goes back to the Paleolithic era. A mummified man, determined to be 5,000 years old, was discovered on a glacier at the Austrian–Italian border in 1991. By the 6th century BC, the Celtic La Tène culture was well established. Hannibal may have crossed the Alps with a herd of elephants, and the Romans had settlements in the region. In 1800 Napoleon crossed one of the mountain passes with an army of 40,000. The 18th and 19th centuries saw an influx of naturalists, writers, and artists, in particular the Romantics, followed by the golden age of alpinism as mountaineers began to ascend the peaks. In World War II the Third Reich invaded the Alpine countries, with the exception of Switzerland which maintained armed neutrality; Adolf Hitler kept a base of operation in the Bavarian Alps throughout the war.

The traditional culture of farming, cheesemaking, and woodworking still exists in Alpine villages, although the tourist industry began to grow early in the 20th century and expanded greatly after World War II to become the dominant industry by the end of the century. The Winter Olympic Games have been hosted in the Swiss, French, Italian and Austrian Alps. At present the region is home to 14 million people and has 120 million annual visitors. [WIKIPEDIA]

(photographer unknown)

"... I've never really taken skiing that seriously.   I've always just looked at it as kind of like a hobby, and you know I'm gonna get a real job and a real career, and you know 'get with the program'.  But what always happens is you know I'll have the opportunity to kinda get with the program and then there will be like a ski trip.  And it'll be like 'well you know, I'll do the ski trip first and then you know I'll get with the program'... twenty years later, it's like skiing always takes precedence over getting with the program.  At some point you just have to realize like, well ok, ...maybe this is...more of like a full time thing and just accept it as it is.  It's my destiny.

Andrew McClean
(the archetype ski mountaineer and the greatest living explorer on the planet)


Mer de Glace

Sunset, Aiguille du Gouter

Lenticular Cloud, Mt. Blanc, Mt. Maudit, Dome du Gouter

Chamonix Valley, 9,000+ vertical ft. below!

Top of the cable car, Aiguille du Midi

Crevasse field, Envers du Plan, Vallee Blanche

Seracs, Glacier du Geant, Vallee Blanche (note cable car in the distance)

Close-up, Heilbronner Cable Car, Vallee Blanche

Guided ski group, Vallee Blanche

Myself, with the Aguille Verte, Petit Dru in the distance

E.N.S.A. Couloir, Brevent


Wengen, with the north face of the Eiger in the distance

Klein Matterhorn, Zermatt

River Visp, Zermatt

The iconic Matterhorn, Zermatt


La Saxe and Courmayeur, Italy

Hotel Meuble Emile Rey, La Saxe



La Grave, France: La Meije

Riding in the Wake of a Giant

If You Fall Here You WIll Die