What Are Backcountry Downhill Skis?

What Are Backcountry Downhill Skis?
Backcountry skiing is an exhilarating form of skiing that combines cross-country skiing with downhill skiing. Backcountry skiers climb slopes outside of ski-resort boundaries to access untouched terrain. The backcountry skier uses randonee or telemark skis, rather than traditional alpine ski equipment.


Randonee skiing utilizes convertible bindings that keep the heel free for uphill climbs and locked, similar to alpine skis, for downhill runs. In telemark skiing the heel is always free.

Randonee Skis

A randonee ski is a lightweight version of a traditional alpine ski. Randonee skis are designed for skiing on ungroomed slopes and are typically shorter and wider than alpine skis.

Telemark Skis

Telemark skis are heavy-duty cross-country skis that are appropriate for backcountry ascents. Telemark skis look like alpine skis but tend to be shorter, wider and more flexible.

Climbing Skins

Climbing skins temporarily adhere to the bottom of randonee or telemark skis and are necessary for ascending backcountry slopes. Skins provide traction and allow you to climb up the slopes.


Skiing in an unpatrolled, backcountry environment can be dangerous. Backcountry skiing requires excellent avalanche knowledge and specialized safety equipment.

Article Written By Wren Mcilroy

Based out of Salt Lake City, Wren Mcilroy has been writing outdoor recreation and travel-related articles for 3 years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and biology from Winona State University in Minnesota.

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