Backcountry Skiing

donner summit backcountry snowboarding skiing

© photo by Colin Hughes

A new generation of freeskiers and snowboarders is making Donner Pass a notable backcountry destination. With huge annual snowfalls (over 411 inches/year), ski zones are always changing and no two trips seem the same. Chutes, big airs and pointers aplenty – and great views.

Access from Nevada City is via Highway 20, which during winter is often a mellow ridge-top drive under a canopy of towering, snow-covered Ponderosas. To get stoked for your next Sierra adventure on extreme skiing or riding terrain, watch Sierroin. To put safety first, check Sierra avalanche conditions. Main attractions include:

  • the insane I-80 jump and backflips off the snowsheds above the Alpine Skills International (ASI) lodge
  • guided sidecountry tours at Sugar Bowl, offered by ASI for alpine, AT, splitboard and telemark
  • chutes, cliffs and bowls within skinning or bootpacking distance of the Old Donner Summit Road; visit for information on West Slope, Lake Run, Heart, Shoulder and Thumb routes
  • Donner Summit backcountry ski courses for advanced and expert skiers at the North American Ski Training Center