How challenged will I be?

“I’m not sure I will be fit enough.”
“I want to feel challenged.”
“I don’t want to hold up the group.”
“I like to charge hard all day long.”

Are you wondering how fit you need to be, or if the rest of the group will push you too hard or hold you up?

We aim to provide trips throughout the season that are appropriate to skiers of various skill levels, and we try to make sure that a group isn’t made up of individuals who don’t fit well together. Ideally a group is all consistent in their goals, technical abilities, and physical fitness. It doesn’t always work out that way, so most of our trips consist of two fully certified guides (IFGMA / ACMG) and sometimes a third guide (often an apprentice) if we feel it will be an advantage for a group of mixed abilities.

What we try to avoid is a group that has one or two exceptions. If a group of 12 skiers has 1 hard charger and the rest Relaxed Pace, it’s bound to mean disappointment for the hard charger. Conversely, if one person in the group is particularly weak and the rest are hard chargers it might mean asking the weak skier to stay home some days, which is really disappointing and frustrating.

For the most part, Sawback Alpine Adventures deals with repeat clients and we have a pretty good idea of each individual’s skill level. But if you’re new to us, it will help us a lot if you are as accurate as possible with describing your skill & fitness level as well as your goals and background. A reference of another guide you’ve skied with is always very helpful. Also it’s useful for us to know of any limiting physical conditions you might have — asthma, diabetes, a knee brace, a recent surgery, and so on.


We have three broad categories for grading our trips:

Relaxed Pace

You should be capable and happy to ski up to 1100 m/day give or take. Ski runs will be on average of intermediate difficulty. This is hard to translate into ski resorts, but generally this means that you are comfortable on all Black Diamond runs even if it means taking your time, and in a variety of conditions (icy, deep powder, breakable crust).

Classic Pace

You should be happy with days in the 1300-1500 m range. Ski runs will be on average of intermediate difficulty (as in the Relaxed Pace) but there will often be pitches of advanced difficulty as well as steeper tree runs and rugged alpine snow conditions involving hard and sastrugi surfaces.

Chop Chop Pace

As the name suggests be fit and prepared for anything. The guide’s fitness will be your limiting factor. As the guide breaks trail for you s/he will expect you to be impatiently nipping at his or her heels, eager for more. That gets annoying, so your guide might decide to give you a little extra group gear for your pack to keep the nipping to a minimum. As it nears 3 pm and you get to the bottom of what would normally be your last run, the guide will expect to see you slapping on your skins for one more hotlap. You get the picture. You will hope to pound in 2000 m in a day and maybe a lot more if the stars align and you are in a strong keen group with the right conditions.


It’s actually pretty easy to get fit for a week of ski touring with Sawback Alpine Adventures. Check out our Get Fit for Skiing Page for some tips and ideas. You need to commit to a minimum 2 hours of training per week for a few months before the trip to getting in shape. The more fit you are, the less prone you will be to getting injured, the more you’ll get out of your days with us, and the more energy you’ll have to enjoy the apr├Ęs ski at the lodge.