There is nothing like strapping a heavy pack on your back and forging off into the mountains for a basecamp or a traverse. Between yourself, your buddies and maybe your guide, you have everything you need to sustain yourselves in the backcountry for a given period of time. You will have probably researched the area or route in which you intend to travel, poured over maps, Google Earth and scoured the internet for beta. However, the reality of the terrain begins to unfold the moment you step into your bindings.
The question, for some, may be to traverse or basecamp.
The answer lies somewhere in the middle and perhaps depends upon the individual. They are both incredible experiences while yielding learning moments and fond memories. However the traverse will typically yield more walking, while the basecamp will often provide a more downhill oriented adventure.
Some trips, if planned properly, can be a hybrid of the two. Ultimately, it all comes down to the experience you seek. If you are interested in travelling on your own power through mountainous terrain, a traverse is probably the pinnacle of the backcountry experience. However, a basecamp is a means of delving into the minutiae of a remote zone.
The choice can be a function of comfort, basecamps can require little to no slogging with a heavy pack, while a heavy pack and some level of suffering is almost guaranteed on a ski traverse. That is not to say a ski traverse will be a negative experience though, rather it will probably be something you will be grateful you did.
To travel through the mountains on your own power for an extended period of time is the landlubber’s version of a nautical crossing, the destination is set while the journey is unknown. While you or your guide will probably watch the weather and the avalanche conditions closely leading up to your trip, there is always some level of uncertainty as to what Mother Nature will provide. Complex decision making will almost certainly ensue, as the conditions and weather evolves over your traverse.
Basecamps will yield similar challenges.
Yet you aren’t faced with the challenge of having to travel through terrain to get to your destination. The conditions and weather will, however, affect your terrain choices. That is why is is nice to choose an area that has a variety terrain for varying weather conditions.
Ultimately you can’t go wrong with either choice, as they both will provide you with unforgettable experiences.
Check out our Custom Trips for more information and please ask about our upcoming basecamps and traverses.