As an IFMGA/UIAGM Mountain Guide, Mike’s wisdom and experience comes across immediately. And as founder of Revelstoke Backcountry Guides, he excitedly shares this wisdom with hundreds of clients and peers every season. For that, we’re extremely excited to bring him on as an Friend of WNDR.
What drew you to the backcountry?
The opportunity to experience quiet moments in nature and the excitement of the unknown were what drew me into the mountains initially, but the creative problem solving is what has kept me engaged. Skiing is where I feel most at peace. I'm an anxious person out of the mountains, but the focus that skiing and guiding in wild places demands brings a sense of calm.
How did your guiding career begin?
When I was 21 and a few years into college (Prescott College) I took a month long avalanche forecasting course in Silverton, Colorado. My experience there led to a few solid partnerships and connections and I eventually landed an internship in Crested Butte, Colorado working with the local guide shop (CB Mtn Guides) and the community supported avalanche forecast center.
I stayed for years living with my partner and my dog in my friend Alan's basement. I basically toured every single day of the winter and would travel to bigger mountains (Chamonix, Alaska, Canada) to ski in and climb in the spring.
At the time there were very few young people into ski touring, so I was mostly out with guys twice my age and geeking out super hard on snow. I went for full-on immersion and got certified as a ski guide at 25 and UIAGM Mountain Guide at 27. I spent ten years traveling and guiding in some of the best mountain destinations in the world before settling in Revelstoke and starting a business called Revelstoke Backcountry Guides. Sharing our passion for the human powered skiing experience and to give skiers an alternative to the standard heli or cat ski trip that our parents' generation was more into, has been a really fun and engaging opportunity.
What makes sharing the backcountry with clients so rewarding?
Sharing a place that I have a strong connection to and building trust with relative strangers over a shared passion is really powerful. I love the opportunity to share something unexpected and unique. It's rewarding and motivating to know that each day is different and there will never be another one like it. Unlike a climbing route or bike trail, experiences on snow are fleeting and finite. Guiding allows me and a small team of guides the opportunity to talk for hours at length every day of the winter with hundreds of interesting and smart people from all over the world. Conversations about family life, sustainability, re-commerce, food, decision making and sharing great lines in wild places are all things that contribute to making the job really rewarding.
Describe your ideal backcountry setup. Any unusual quirks?
I ski a simple tried and true tech binding, a moderately stiff boot and I use a reliable mohair-mix skin. I ski the same ski until Spring, then bring the waist width down to 100mm or so. I think it's unusual in that it's uncomplicated.
Tried and true is the name of the game for Mike. Revelstoke, BC. Photo: Mike Bromberg (@revelstoke_backcountry)
Camber or Reverse Camber?
Camber. I find a cambered ski more versatile. The snow is generally very, very good here in Revelstoke, but I don't shy away from the firmer, more technical stuff.
Favorite backcountry fuel?
I eat variations of the same thing every day. Two small cakes or cookies, a homemade bar (date or granola based), two sandwich halves and one piece of fruit. My company (RBG) partners with some amazing local cooks for hundreds of skiers' lunches and we've found that whole foods (as opposed to packaged bars etc) in small portions, so that you can eat at every stop, works super well.
How do you prep for a big day in the backcountry?
I have workflows that I use for both morning forecast and evening assessment, but more generally, I spend a lot of time with mapping tools (Google Earth and Caltopo) to learn about terrain. The weather and snowpack conditions are always going to be dynamic, but preparing by learning about the terrain is an easy way to make informed decisions and be adequately prepared for when the right opportunity arises.
Generally I like to plan for three options:
- One simple but rewarding option that the group can accomplish safely
- a more challenging tour if things are going well and conditions are as expected
- a complex option involving multiple variables for if all the pieces are falling into place
Preparing this way helps me to keep the nearly infinite options to a reasonable menu and helps avoid the potential pitfalls of having a plan A-B-C. Where really, plans B and C are uninspiring non-options.
What are some of your favorite places to ski and why?
Well, I moved to Revelstoke and specifically to ski in the Selkirk mountains and I think the backcountry hut experience in BC is very unique. But, I have really positive memories from touring trips in the Chugach and Alaska Ranges, Japan, Lofoten and spring corn in Colorado.
Any ski locations on your bucket list?
I'm intrigued by Engelberg and Andermatt in Switzerland, Wrangell Mountains, Montana's Glacier National Park are all on the list. But more generally, I like knowing a lot about one specific place as opposed to knowing a little about a lot of places, so most of my energy has been devoted to getting to know the mountains close to home.
Why WNDR Alpine?
There is no shortage of talented people and solid brands that can make a decent ski these days, but I was initially attracted to WNDR because the brand is truly doing something to move the industry forward. The need for better, more sustainable materials is very real and we can't afford to be unsustainable in our choices. Skiing on the Intention 110 truly changed my perspective on what is possible with a light ski. These skis are really something special.
Learn more about Mike's guiding operation here.