57Hours connects you with local resources to make the most of your days off.
WORDS • LILY KRASS | FEATURED IMAGE • PAUL WRIGHT
As skiers, traveling to new places with two planks in tow is just about as exciting as it gets. However, fantasies of deep, untracked powder and friendly locals who will happily divulge their private stashes with the wave of a torn Kinco glove cloud the nitty-gritty details of real backcountry trip planning. Often, we’re so focused on getting ourselves to the destination, we don’t have time to do the research it takes to execute a big ski tour on a short trip. Sure, this isn’t the case for every backcountry traveler, but I know I’m not alone in admitting I’ve shown up to a new mountain range with little more than a downloaded Gaia map and a screenshot of the avy forecast.
That’s how New York-based Viktor Marohnic and Petra Levatic came up with 57Hours, an app that connects certified guides with clients in an “Airbnb format.” As climbers and skiers juggling recreation with full-time jobs, Marohnic and Levatic were determined to help other recreationists make the most of their limited days off.
“When I visited Jackson a few years ago, I didn’t have much knowledge of where to go, but I really wanted to ski in the backcountry,” said Marohnic. “I was hesitant to get a guide at first, but signed up for a four-day ski mountaineering course with Jackson Hole Mountain Guides.” The group descended Red Sentinel Couloir, a rarely-skied line off the north side of Disappointment Peak in Grand Teton National Park with a mandatory rappel. “That line I never would have found or had the confidence to ski on my own at the time,” Marohnic said. “I progressed so much with my own skiing and met new partners that I still ski and keep in touch with. It surprised me how much value I got out of spending time with a guide. There’s no shame in hiring a guide because of how much it can help you in the long run.”
While many skiers will agree that part of the fun of traveling is to wing it, make mistakes and learn on their own, this sometimes takes a toll on the actual amount of time we spend pointing our skis downhill. Unlike in Europe, where hiring a guide is an assumed part of mountain travel for recreational skiers, the North American attitude towards guiding can be a little more hesitant. “Everyone wants to go out on their own and figure it out,” said Greg Hill, professional skier and an Association of Canadian Mountain Guides-certified ski guide. “I love discovering a new place on my own, too, but it’s easy to kill time trying to figure out where to go when you first get there. Sure, you can bumble around and try to follow skin tracks, but when you hire a guide you’re maximizing your chance of skiing the best snow.”
Hill added that not all guided trips have to be a follow-the-leader style that core skiers pride themselves on avoiding. Through 57Hours, Hill guides a three-day Mountain Sense course on British Columbia’s Rogers Pass where skiers practice trip planning and route-finding skills while skiing in some of Hill’s favorite local zones. “Most clients have an end goal of going out on their own, and this course helps them become more independent and confident skiers in the backcountry,” said Hill. Other guides, like Doug Workman of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, Rob Copolillio of Vetta Mountain Guides in Chamonix and Tom Wolfe of Canada’s Sawback Alpine Adventures, guide single- and multi-day ski and climbing trips through 57Hours throughout North America and the Alps.
There are 57 hours from 3 p.m. on Friday to midnight on Sunday. 57Hours is set up so that with just a few clicks, users can create an itinerary that’s built around their experience and interests so they don’t have to waste any part of that window. “If they want to take an avalanche education course they can, or they can sign up and have a guide show them around Jackson Hole for two days, whatever you want. You can connect with the guides and create a plan for your ability,” said Marohnic. “Skiing with a guide is an amazing way to progress and get to know a new place. Even if you just do one day with a guide and then go out on your own after, it really sets you up for success.”