Are you someone who likes to earn their turns?

Ski touring and splitboarding have, well, ascended in popularity since the pandemic, with skiers and riders opting to use their own engines to reach pristine slopes, untracked snow and possibly even low-level enlightenment.

It's not for everyone, and requires an investment across various fronts: avalanche safety, wilderness first aid, fitness and equipment.

However, those intrepid enough to take the punt will be rewarded with one of the ultimate backcountry experiences, the satisfaction of having scaled a ridge or summit, a cardio workout that will justify the evening's enormous vat of fondue, and the cherry on top of getting to make enormous surf turns down the unbroken white of a remote basin.  

We’ve rounded up an excellent array of destinations that will offer some of these experiences, from the far north of Sweden to the high-altitude massifs of Kazakhstan to the classy ski towns of Switzerland

The best ski touring for 2023/2024 

Ascending next to a glacier in the Kebnekaise

The Kebnekaise


Alright, we get it. Sweden doesn’t immediately conjure up mental images of towering summits and virgin powder. But, that’s exactly what you’ll find at The Kebnekaise in Swedish Lapland, the highest mountain in the country at 6,909 feet, with an incredible amount of vertical, 4,593 feet, just shy of a mile. Mats Drougge, founder of Stranda snowboards, runs an annual splitboarding trip to the mountain which offers everything from mellow, beginner-friendly laps to splitboard mountaineering with knife-edge ridges and steep terrain. Drougge is a powerful evangelist for the sport, and has put together an experience that caters to those who are looking to nail down the fundamentals, as well as veteran snowboarders who know their way around harness, ropes and technical couloirs. Sound interesting? Guests will be staying at the Tarfala mountain cabin in the Tarfalavagge, one of the most arresting valleys in the mountain range. This being Sweden, don’t forget to pack your snus and akvavit, and maybe some rehydration salts, just to be hangover-safe.

Where to Stay

Tarfalavagge Hut - bunks from £30 per night

Tien Shan


Translate Tien Shan into English, and you get “the celestial mountains”, a neat moniker for these fierce Kazakh peaks that, come night, promise a NASA-worthy light show above your head and equally breathtaking views of Almaty’s twinkling lights down in the far-away foothills. It doesn’t get wilder than traversing up to 13,123 feet across sky-cradling slopes on the daily hunt for new lines in these impressive mountains. Sign up for a five-day, off-piste Powder Nomad’s itinerary through the Ile Alatau mountain range (from £898pp), and you’ll be schussing down heart-pumping couloirs and navigating spine-chilling walls below soaring peaks and on fiendish snowpack, with nights spent in a remote mountain trailer. Extend the experience by heading to Shymbulak.

Where to Stay

Grand Hotel Tien-Shan – rooms from £85 per night



As the birthplace of the Freeride World Tour, or Verbier Extreme as it was known in the early days, Verbier has backcountry in its bloodstream. However, when it comes to touring and splitboarding, it goes back much further than that, with some of its routes considered to be utter classics. Hop on the Haute Route, which runs from Chamonix to Zermatt, or scale the epic lunar bowls of Mont Rogneux. If your legs are weary and you don’t feel like decamping to a mountain hut for a night (although we highly recommend this experience with its vats of molten fondue and frosty white wine) there’s plenty of lift-served slackcountry to see you through. Swiss, please.

Where to stay

Experimental Chalet – rooms from £270 per night

Jackson Hole


“If you’re going into the backcountry, make sure you’ve got a partner and a plan. If you don’t know, don’t go.” You’ll get used to hearing this announcement riding the lipstick red Aerial Tram gondola at Jackson Hole, which deposits you atop Rendezvous Mountain. Stop off at Corbet’s Cabin to ballast up with a peanut butter and bacon waffle sandwich, then exit through the gates and down the rabbit hole of expert, ungroomed downhill. For those looking to get even further afield, the Grand Tetons is a mountain range like no other, drawing big names such as Travis Rice and Jimmy Chin to its razor-sharp and spindly pinnacles. Perhaps more suited for ski mountaineering than ski touring, those looking for a challenge will encounter incredibly testing terrain in Jackson Hole and its surrounds.

Where to Stay

Hotel Jackson - rooms from £585 per night

A spitboarder making a surf turn in Sweden



Hokkaido needs to be experienced to be understood. Mega weather systems sweep across Siberia, picking up power and moisture as they traverse the Sea of Japan, before disgorging themselves across the hulking mountain ranges in the south and centre of the island. The result? JAPOW – the powder so good it has its own moniker. Experiencing it is a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage that draws skiers and riders from all corners of the globe. While the terrain may not be the steepest, it’s some of the most unique, offering the opportunity to sweep turns down the caldera of a dormant volcano or thread glades of silver birch. We feel a bit corny using terms like winter wonderland but, in this case, it’s a bullseye.

Where to Stay

Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono - rooms from £340 per night



Want to get a feel for ski touring without committing to the backcountry and the danger of, well, terrifying avalanches and make-or-break turns? Crans-Montana is a great destination to hone your skills. Its Rando Parc offers 15 touring routes for all levels as well as 55 miles of marked paths, with almost 27,000 feet of height gain, just a little less than Everest. Catering to both beginners and advanced, its most nervous-making route is called “La X’trême” with almost 10,000 feet of climbing. Best log some hours on that stairmaster.

Where to Stay

Six Senses Crans-Montana - rooms from £777 per night

Haute Maurienne Vanoise


If Hannibal can do it, so can you (meaning the historical figure, not Anthony Hopkins). A hut-to-hut tour of the high altitude passes and big glacier summits in the vast, border-spanning Haute Maurienne Vanoise national park carry you alongside the ghostly tracks of the Roman empire’s archenemy. Beginners need not apply: while resort-skimming ‘de rando’ trails near the park’s five resorts offer good practice, spine-tingling pursuits like the summit of the Gébroulaz pass or skinning up Dôme de Chasseforêt aren’t for first-timers, nor are they for the faint of heart. In the Col Clapier area? Take time to check out the unmanned Hannibal bivouac refuge. Its unconventional architecture includes a glass roof above the bunks, letting the stars shine in (when it isn’t covered in snow).

Where to Stay

Le Saint-Charles Hotel & Spa - rooms from £114 per night 

Park City


When Park City was linked up to Canyons back in 2015, it created the largest ski area in the USA: a mind-blowing 7,300 acres of powder-rich paradise. The two world-class resorts here attract a mob of skiers, so there’s no better way to escape the crowds than skiing outside the lines. There’s a heap of epic ungroomed terrain in the resort, including the easily accessible Summit Peak and Empire Pass, Murdock Peak pitted with long natural half pipes and Monitor Bowl Park. Consider yourself a thirsty cliff hucker? Head to Desolation Ridge, which is filled with pillowy drops and clean landing zones.

Where to Stay

Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley – rooms from £357



Home to Europe’s wildest peaks, the sprawling, sawtoothed Caucasus mountain range that straddles Georgia and Russia is the boss level of the continent’s backcountry. And if we’re picking a final round, make it the Upper Svaneti, a Skyrim-worthy landscape of 4,500-foot-plus summits dotted with remote mountain villages and ancient ruins. Sign up for a Svaneti Backcountry bespoke tour to follow IFMGA guides through this folkloric landscape, skiing Georgia’s highest mountain, touring altitude-pushing passes (avoiding wild horse herds), and overnighting in remote guesthouses and local families’ homes. Up here, welcomes involve a shot of Cha-Cha – the local moonshine will blow your boots off.

Where to Stay

Grand Hotel Ushba - rooms from £51 per night



Piste panoramas don’t get much better than the wrap-around views of the Western Himalayas provided by Gulmarg’s 13,000-foot heights. Hey, on a clear day, you might even spot the distant summit of K2. The fresh powder at the world’s third-highest ski resort is equally impressive – from December to mid-March, the towering Apharwat Peak becomes an off-piste paradise. Our top tip for a full Gulmarg experience? Leave time to feast. Kashmiri meals involve mutton pakodas, rajma-chawal and kahwa, a locally loved, spiced green tea. Just note, there’s no real après scene.

Where to Stay

Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa - rooms from £488

View on Instagram

Valle Nevado


The dramatic neighbouring peaks reaching upwards towards the stratosphere make Valle Nevado feel a bit otherworldly, despite the Chilean resort being one of the most accessible resorts from Santiago. French-designed, and favoured by well-heeled local powder hounds, this Chilean spot sits at a decent 12,000 feet, but 23 miles of pistes on soaring surrounding summits push 20,000 feet in places. Flying objects – of the identifiable kind – are pretty standard, thanks to the seriously impressive heliskiing operation at play, and an FIS-standard snow park is a boon for boarders, too.

Where to stay

Hotel Valle Nevado – rooms from £267 per night