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Breaking Down Alpenglow’s Backcountry Ski Expeditions

Climbers descend from the summit of Antisana approaching a hanging serac.

At Alpenglow Expeditions, it is our mission to facilitate powerful mountain experiences at the absolute highest standard. In order to do so, we recognize that those experiences may often look different for individual climbers and skiers seeking to fulfill a unique vision. With that in mind, we offer three distinct backcountry ski & ride expeditions to cater to a wide variety of backcountry enthusiasts.

Below, we’ll break down the three expeditions: the  Ecuador Ring of Fire, the Japan Backcountry Ski, and the Chile Backcountry Ski Expedition.

Skiers ascend a glacier through crevassed terrain under dark, cloudy skies.

Ecuador Ring of Fire


The Ecuador Ring of Fire expedition is a high-altitude volcanic backcountry adventure in a place we often refer to as Alpenglow’s 2nd home. A majority of our guides hail from Ecuador, and we have decades of collective experience and thousands of summits of its volcanoes. This trip is designed for budding ski mountaineers looking to climb and ski multiple high-altitude peaks in a relatively short timeframe. The journey takes you through a series of stunning volcanoes, including Cayambe, Cotopaxi or Antisana, and Chimborazo, all topping out between 18 and just over 20,000 feet.


Diverse Terrain: Participants will encounter a variety of landscapes, from lush forests to glaciated peaks, as well as unique high-altitude terrain and volcanic snow conditions.

Cultural Experience: The expedition offers a rich cultural immersion, with opportunities to explore the place that a significant part of the Alpenglow family calls home.

Physical Challenge: This trip is physically demanding, with early starts and long days spent up high.

Skills and Requirements: Prior mountaineering experience is recommended, but not required. Basic glacier travel, ski mountaineering, and crevasse rescue techniques will be introduced and reviewed throughout the expedition. Advanced-intermediate ski/ride experience is required (10+ days of touring).

Two skiers take a selfie next to their skin track in a field of white snow in Japan beneath a big blue sky during a guided Japan ski trip with Alpenglow Expeditions.

Japan Backcountry Ski


This expedition is a dream come true for those seeking an outside-the-box comprehensive ski experience. Set in the powder paradise of Hokkaido, Japan, this backcountry skiing trip promises deep snow, breathtaking scenery, and a taste of Japanese culture.


Epic Powder: Hokkaido is renowned for its light, dry powder, making it a top destination for backcountry skiing. Read HERE about why the snow in Japan is just that good.

Unique Experience: Skiing waist-deep powder through Japan’s famous northern birch forests is an experience unique to Hokkaido, which boasts a culture distinct from the mainland, but classically charming and welcoming nonetheless.

Cultural Immersion: The trip includes visits to traditional onsens (hot springs) and opportunities to savor local cuisine.

Skills and Requirements: Advanced-intermediate skiing ability is required. Participants should be comfortable skiing in deep powder and navigating backcountry terrain, with 5-10 days of backcountry experience OR Alpenglow’s Backcountry 1.0.

A line of skiers ascend a skin track in a wide open snow field on a Chilean volcanoe under blue skies and above a mountain lake.

Chile Backcountry Ski Adventure


This expedition takes you to the stunning lakeside volcanoes of the southern Andes mountains in Chile, offering a mix of adventure and relaxation. It’s designed for skiers looking to explore the diverse and expansive backcountry terrain of the Southern Hemisphere without having to navigate technical challenges or push into high altitudes.


A Focus on Fun: Ski the wide, steep slopes of Chile’s volcanoes. Much like spring skiing in Tahoe, a healthy freeze/thaw cycle creates corn snow similar to the Eastern Sierra.

Cultural Experience: Enjoy Chilean hospitality and cuisine, with accommodations in charming mountain lodges, natural hot springs, and nutritious, farm-fresh food.

Flexible Itinerary: The itinerary is adaptable based on weather conditions and group preferences.

Skills and Requirements: Intermediate to advanced skiing ability is necessary. 15+ days of backcountry experience is required.

Comparing the Expeditions

Location and Scenery:

Ecuador: Offers high-altitude volcanic landscapes with dramatic vistas and heavily-glaciated terrain.

Japan: Features the famous powdery snow of Hokkaido, with a unique blend of birch forests and wide open mountain slopes.

Chile: Comparable to skiing in the Eastern Sierra, with varied terrain and a predictable, reliable snowpack high above lush valleys and pristine lakes.

Cultural Experience:

Ecuador: Rich in Andean culture, with opportunities to explore and engage with local communities, led by our Ecuadorian guides who’ll take you off the beaten path.

Japan: Immersive cultural experience with traditional Japanese hospitality and cuisine.

Chile: Combines South American charm with mountain culture, offering a warm and welcoming experience that feels both new and familiar.

Physical and Technical Demands:

Ecuador: High physical demand, skiers and riders should be in excellent shape to tackle technical terrain at high altitudes.

Japan: Advanced skiing skills required, particularly in deep powder and glades.

Chile: Intermediate to advanced skills needed skiing and riding a variety of snow conditions and steep terrain up to 45 degrees.

Ideal For:

Ecuador: Advanced backcountry skiers/riders seeking a challenging, high-altitude adventure and an opportunity to break into proper ski mountaineering.

Japan: Skiers and riders looking for a world-class powder experience and cultural immersion.

Chile: Skiers and riders wanting a blend of adventure and relaxation in a diverse, engaging, and unique terrain.

Each of these expeditions offers a unique way to experience the beauty and challenge of the mountains, whether you’re climbing the volcanic peaks of Ecuador, skiing the deep powder of Japan, or exploring the volcanoes of Chile.

Questions? Click HERE to connect with our team and determine which expedition is right for you.

Backcountry Ski Expeditions

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