What even is it? Unlike resort skiing, the backcountry provides an opportunity to explore the snow without boundaries. No chairlifts, no groomers… you get to explore unmarked areas and carve untouched snow. Feeling ready to explore all that backcountry skiing has to offer, but not sure where to start? Here are some important points to get you into a backcountry mindset.
Get avalanche educated!
Your backcountry adventure starts before you get out there – with education!It is super important to understand the weather and avalanche forecast of the mountain. The wind, temperatures, and previous snowpack conditions will dictate your day in the backcountry. There are a variety of avalanche safety classes available, anywhere from a 1 day class, 3 day class, or even 10 day class! Totally up to you depending on your prior experience and knowledge. Find a local resource and sign up!
Photo Credit: Nicolas Cool (@shotz)
Get the gear!
A backcountry setup is different from a resort setup. Between specific bindings, equipment (ski or splitboard), skins, and ski poles with ability to extend or compact it to pack away, you will need different gear than a day on a resort hill.
Whether you shred on AT skis or a splitboard, the essentials of backcountry skiing that you will need training or experience before using are your beacon (locator if you get buried in an avalanche), probe (helps pinpoint location and depth of person in snow), and shovel (allows you to move the snow to get person out).
Finally, you will want a backpack to pack up your safety equipment and other important items such as water, extra layers, and a medical kit. Read more about the 9 must haves in the backcountry here.
Photo Credit: Hendrik Morkel (@hendrikmorkel)
Practice and get comfortable! A great way to rip the bandaid off your first time in the backcountry is to go on a guided trip. We recommend never going alone, and to let someone else know your plan for the day and when they should expect to hear from you next. Here are some ideas on where to backcountry ski in the US!
Photo Credit: Go Montgenevre (@gomontgenevre)
With the correct equipment, knowledge and experience, you will be ready to explore the backcountry! Don’t have your own gear? Check out some awesome rental options here!