How to Backcountry Ski

How to Backcountry Ski
Backcountry skiing is also known as Alpine touring or mountaineering. Backcountry skiing combines cross-country with ascents and descents away from the commercial trails favored by ski resorts. In this way, the backcountry skier is away from the crowds and engaging in a more independent experience. With this freedom, however, comes the responsibility of dealing with dangers on your own.


Difficulty: Challenging

Step 1
Get involved with a group. This type of skiing is far too dangerous to do on your own. In fact, you should never even go backcountry skiing without a trained mountain guide who can take responsibility for your safety and well-being.
Step 2
Carry some kind of communication equipment that allows you to stay in touch with each other. Backcountry skiing faces the real danger of avalanches, falls and even sliding into a crevasse. The best equipment to ensure immediate communication should something disastrous happen is a two-way radio system that also has a beeper in case you get trapped under snow.
Step 3
Buy boots that are made for the conditions involved in mountaineering skiing. Regular Alpine boots are fine for shorter treks, but you should get special boots for longer and more dangerous trails. Make sure these boots are longer than standard, waterproof and can keep your feet warm. They should also have adjustable hinges and profile soles in order to be flexible enough for walking up and down hills.
Step 4
Get skis specially made for the conditions involved in Alpine touring. These skis are not as long as regular Alpine skis, and are also lighter. Make sure, however, they are very tough and flexible by bending them before purchase to get a feel of their durability. Look for skis with a hole at the tip that can be used for making an emergency sledge. Nylon skins should be attached to the bottom of the skis to enhance the grip when used for climbing.
Step 5
Begin backcountry skiing early in the day. First light is usually the best time to start. By the afternoon, the snow conditions may begin to deteriorate, and this is the time to stop. Plan your ascent so that you can avoid very steep climbs. The technique for ascending a hill should be a cross-country step (see Resources).

Article Written By Timothy Sexton

Timothy Sexton is an award-winning author who started writing in 1994. He has written on topics ranging from politics and golf to nutrition and travel, and his work appears online for, Disaboom and MOJO, among others. He has also done work for "Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Florida.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.