Kids 101 — Swedish Fish Are Key for Backcountry Skiing

Post by blogger | May 1, 2009      
Backcountry skiing with kids.

Nurturing the brood

High, dry powder was what we found as we plied the boys with Swedish Fish to lure them up the climb.

Once on top we didn’t have to worry about their downhill skills, it was more a matter of reeling them in as the next generation certainly is not afraid of speed or charging the fall line.

As long time skiers my wife and I have always been excited to share the exploration and fun of backcountry skiing with our children. We got just that chance recently with a late season blast of snow and a hut trip we’d planned with our friends Kim and Lori and their two boys.

Backcountry Skiing

Chapin charging. Once on the down it's more a matter of slowing the guy's speed and being more careful, as they've grown up cranking turns at Aspen's resorts and tend to ski a bit too agro and fast when they're in the backcountry.

One safety key we feel is key is that of being like minded in risk assessment. Especially while working with younger folks, it’s important that everyone is on the same page when it comes to how much risk the adult leaders accept, and how they deal with this amongst themselves — as the kids listen in on the conversation. We of course practice avy self-rescue skills, and work on finer points of going uphill on skis, such as mastering those kick turns. Hydration is emphasized, and providing the correct food treats is essential. (Sugar works to an extent, but try to trick them into eating something more than candy.)

Backcountry Skiing

The family that earns together, turns together.

Oh, yeah, this sounds obvious and is when you are wrangling three boys ages 10, 11, and 12 – but most of all HAVE FUN!

Backcountry Skiing


Backcountry Skiing

More earnin'

Backcountry Skiing



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24 Responses to “Kids 101 — Swedish Fish Are Key for Backcountry Skiing”

  1. Pete May 1st, 2009 10:35 am

    Nice pics! These kids can rip!

  2. dongshow May 1st, 2009 2:47 pm

    Talk of kids skiing to fast and agro in the backcountry brought a smile to my face. Looks like a great time. My problem is the complete opposite however, how do the kids convince the parents to go backcountry skiing?

  3. Lou May 1st, 2009 2:49 pm

    There is fast and agro, and FAST and AGRO (grin).

  4. Markian Feduschak May 1st, 2009 6:13 pm

    Great post! Penn, can you provide more info on the kids equipment and terrain you chose. I have daughters that are 8 and 10, althetic and good skiers. On the cusp of getting them out into the backcountry and always want to learn from other’s experience.

  5. Penn Newhard May 1st, 2009 10:38 pm

    Markian – I have 4 in my brood – Chapin 11, Lacey 9, Natalie 7 and Teagan 1. We are “a take them with you” set of parents so the kids ski and hike and camp with us. The key for skiing is keep it fun and choose good weather days. Our kids have progressed from being pulled in polks to Nordic skiing into huts to easy skins and tours. We don’t force things at all and because we enjoy it they do too. This year we scored Chapin some old Dynafits and mondo 22 used Scarpa Magic AT boots. Last year, he had some old Diamirs and toured in his alpine boots (this is now Lacey’s set up). In both cases I found decent lw foam core skis at the used shop. We started the kiddos skinning up Buttermilk to get the basics and packed plenty of cheese, salami, apples and hot cocoa. It’s really about focusing at their level initially and soon enough you’ll be amazed at how much they can do!

  6. Steve May 2nd, 2009 12:51 pm

    Great post! It’s exciting to see other parents taking their kids along with them. That’s what we’ve tried to do with ours. Giving them a life-long love of the outdoors is worth way more than any inheritance or trust fund (but that would be OK too).

  7. Markian Feduschak May 2nd, 2009 1:28 pm


    Thanks for the tips. Our girls have been on a few hut trips, both skiing on Nordic skis and being pulled in the sled. They are avid outdoor kids, just like yours. The biggest hindrance to touring for turns right now seems to be equipment. We too have modest “ambitions” just trying to make it fun and have the right gear. Given the tech talk on Wildsnow, I am always trying to learn more about kids gear, since we as adults know what a difference it can make. It seems a shame that kids tele gear is readily available while AT is much more limited.

  8. Michael Silitch May 4th, 2009 9:13 am

    Hi Markian,

    How are you??? What are you up to? Come out for a visit in Chamonix some time.

  9. Michael Silitch May 4th, 2009 9:16 am

    We have 3 and 5 year old boys. They already cross country and alpine ski and our oldest always wants to come on tours with Nina and me. When we tell him that we dont have equipment for him he says thats ok, he can just duck walk up the hills. Currently they love mountain biking in the bois du bouchet behind our chalet.

  10. Markian Feduschak May 6th, 2009 7:42 am


    We are doing well, thanks for asking. I heard news of you from Paul Duba recently and red the Outside Magazine article on your guiding adventures. Sounds like life is treating you well. Would love to come visit in Chamonix. Send me your contact info.
    Look forward to hearing from you.

  11. Thomas January 31st, 2010 3:10 pm

    Who is making alpine touring gear for kids?


  12. Glenn August 8th, 2011 12:41 pm

    Like others, am trying to get a youngster into AT Gear. My grandson, age 9, 55 lbs, size 22 mondo wants to head up the mountain with me in the AM. I thought I could use a set of G3 Onyx I have, but can find a tech fitting/AT Boot, size 22. My other thought was to get a set of Marker FT 10 bindings, but it looks like the smallest size comes in at around a 23 mondo, depending on boot sole length. Has anyone found the right AT set up for the smaller sized child?


  13. David April 7th, 2013 11:54 am

    I have only been skiing for 4 years, my kids and I took lessons together. Last year I put together an AT setup for myself, and my son was disappointed to not be able to join me. Late spring skiing at a lift served area in vermont with open tree skiing allowed my son to show off his skills, and interest in getting off the resort. I found a pair of used silvretta pure kidz step in style AT bindings, and am still looking for a lightweight ski for him. the silvretta’s can adjust down to mondo 22, and there are a few websites with instructions on how to break down the binding and adjust the aluminum stringers to accomodate a smaller boot. I think the minimum sole length out of the box is 265mm. the binding weighs in at about 1150gm

  14. David October 12th, 2013 11:19 am

    After looking and looking, it seems the limiting factor in boot selection is the toe and heel piece. You can shorten the Pure Kidz binding, but need a full alpine toe and heel piece for the binding to securely fit to the boot. Further, outside of discontinued garmont kids AT boots, the rest of the manufacturers are ignoring this segment of skiers….. so for one more year, until my little man grows one more mondo size he is stuck in snowshoes for back country adventures. mondo 22.5 is the ize that steps up from a junior boot with a kids heel and toe piece to a junior boot with an adult heel and toe piece

  15. XXX_er October 12th, 2013 1:09 pm

    I think it was on TGR I read where an L or XL fritchsi freeride was shortened to fit a kids DIN boot

    the reason you need a big binding IS the slot milled in the rail of the fritschi would get in the way of cutting down/reattaching the rail but on the large size fr+ that slot gets cut off completely which then allows you to reattach the rail and mill a new slot

  16. XXX_er October 12th, 2013 1:14 pm
  17. David October 12th, 2013 6:17 pm

    How does the fritschi get past the boot toe and heel piece issue…. I appreciate the help

  18. XXX_er October 13th, 2013 9:07 am

    dunno, you could p-mail mnt lion he is always very helpful

  19. Lou Dawson October 13th, 2013 3:32 pm

    The best binding for shortening is the Silvretta Pure. Super easy project , and works with any boot.

    If you can find the Kidz version, so much the better.

    In terms for how it works with junior DIN shaped soles, should be fine. If heel unit doesn’t clamp tight enough, just add a spacer on top of the heel shelf.


  20. David October 13th, 2013 6:05 pm

    I’m gonna try this… Gonna take an old pair of 120cm rental skis to my local shop, have the silvretta’s mounted, get a longer screw for the adjuster and try adding a spacer… Worst case it costs me some shop time

  21. Lou Dawson October 13th, 2013 6:33 pm

    The easiest were the Ramers. That’s what we used for our son back in the day… Safety release is hard to tune, however…

  22. Stefano April 14th, 2014 1:00 am


    Since nothing on the market I found a custom made SKIMO solution for my 2 Kids Ale 5, Chicca 4

    For climbing:

    Custom made “sole” with dunafit holes in front and latch as in the picture
    plus Winter Walking Boots (Hot, Light and flexible)


    For Bindings: Maruelli CNC Binding

    For Ski: 80-90cm light dowhill skis

    For Dowhill:
    I use a pair of downhill boots (6 size in one) on what I install dynafit locking system (cameled in my 25kg backpack durring climbing…)

    The bigger problem is how much patience you’ve to spend with them: they’re not interested in climbing, just in else other… and if you take care of one you immediately have the other stopped and crying ;-P

    With lot of patience, anf fun for them we are now able to mae 6km / 300m tour…

    I don’t know if it will help them to love/detest mountians… for sure is the only way we have to be in the mountains all togheter…

  23. Stefano April 14th, 2014 1:03 am
  24. Peter Horváth April 5th, 2016 1:11 am

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