In recent years, backcountry snowboarding has become an increasingly popular way to enjoy the sport. While it can offer a unique and thrilling experience, it also comes with its own set of dangers and risks.
But if you’re new to snowboarding, you might be thinking what does it mean to go snowboarding backcountry?
Backcountry skiing or snowboarding is defined as traveling in the backcountry on foot or by ski/snowboard, typically off of marked trails or slopes. This can include venturing into fresh powder snow, using hiking skins to travel uphill, and riding down ungroomed slopes.
Many backcountry riders choose to minimize the risks by taking courses in avalanche safety and carrying the proper equipment. They also check the weather forecast before heading out and stick to marked trails or slopes.
To help you get started with backcountry skiing or snowboarding here is all information that you need to know about before heading for a backcountry tour:
- What is Backcountry Skiing or Snowboarding vs just skiing and snowboarding?
- Types of Backcountry Snowboarding
- Why Do People Backcountry Ski or Snowboard?
- What Are the Risks of Backcountry Skiing or Snowboarding?
- Safety Measures For Backcountry Snowboarders
1. What is Backcountry Skiing or Snowboarding vs just skiing and snowboarding?
Snowboarding in the backcountry can be a lot of fun, but it also comes with a lot of risks. You need to be aware of the dangers that come with this sport, and take the necessary precautions before heading out into the backcountry.
In contrast to skiing and snowboarding on groomed trails in a ski resort, backcountry skiing and snowboarding involve traveling in undeveloped areas away from ski resorts. This can include venturing into fresh powder snow, using hiking skins to travel uphill, and riding down ungroomed slopes.
What makes backcountry snowboarding so thrilling is the sense of adventure and exploration. You’re able to explore remote areas and ride down untouched slopes. This can be a lot of fun, but it also comes with a lot of risks.
Before heading out into the backcountry, you need to be aware of the dangers that come with this sport. This includes things like avalanches, deep snow, and exposure to the elements.
You also need to take the necessary precautions before heading out into the backcountry. This includes carrying the proper safety equipment, checking the weather forecast, and sticking to marked trails or slopes.
2. Types of Backcountry Snowboarding
There are numerous types of skiing or snowboarding such as alpine touring snowboarding or downhill snowboarding, telemark snowboarding, and even cross-country snowboarding.
However, backcountry ski (or snowboarding) is a term generally used to describe skiing or snowboarding in the untracked, natural environment – away from any groomed or developed ski runs.
This could be in the form of hiking up a mountainside to access untouched powder, or even skiing/snowboarding down a slope that has not been developed for the sport.
3. Why Do People Backcountry Ski or Snowboard?
There are many reasons why backcountry travelers choose to ski or snowboard in the backcountry.
For some, it’s a way to escape the crowds and find solitude in nature. Others are drawn to the challenge of exploring new terrain, or the sense of adventure that comes with venturing into the unknown.
And for many, backcountry skiing or snowboarding is simply a way to enjoy the sport in its purest form – away from the hustle and bustle of busy resorts.
A ski resort can often feel like a concrete jungle, with artificial lights, chairlifts, and man-made features.
In contrast, backcountry skiing or snowboarding offers a more natural experience, allowing you to appreciate the beauty of the mountains and the wilderness.
However, there are multiple ski resorts that are now incorporating backcountry skiing and snowboarding into their terrain offerings. Due to this, many backcountry skiers and snowboarders now have the best of both worlds – they can enjoy the solitude of the backcountry with the convenience of a ski resort.
4. What Are the Risks of Backcountry Skiing or Snowboarding?
While it can be an incredibly rewarding experience, it’s important to be aware of the dangers that come with venturing into the backcountry.
These include avalanches, fresh snow, tree wells, and hidden obstacles. There is also a greater risk of getting lost or injured when you’re away from the safety of marked trails and slopes.
If you started backcountry skiing or snowboarding without the proper knowledge or equipment, you could easily find yourself in a dangerous situation. So, it’s a good idea to do your research and be prepared before heading out into the backcountry.
5. Safety Measures For Backcountry Snowboarders
There are a few key things you can do to stay safe when backcountry skiing or snowboarding. These are as follows:
If you’re planning on skiing or snowboarding in an area where there is a risk of avalanches, it’s important to take the necessary precautions. This includes carrying avalanche safety gear, such as a beacon, shovel, and probe. It’s also a good idea to take an Avalanche Safety Course, so you know how to identify and avoid dangerous terrain.
Deep Snow Safety
When venturing into deep powder snow, it’s important to be aware of the hazards that come with it. These include tree wells and snow immersion suffocation. To stay safe, it’s important to travel with a partner and to keep an eye on each other at all times. It’s also a good idea to carry a shovel and probe, so you can dig each other out if necessary.
When hiking in the backcountry, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to take the necessary precautions. This includes wearing proper footwear, carrying a map and compass, and being prepared for sudden weather changes.
General Safety Tips
In addition to the above safety measures, there are a few general tips that will help you stay safe when backcountry skiing or snowboarding. These include:
Inform Your Dear Ones
It’s important to inform someone from your family or friend circle about your backcountry plans. This way, they will know where you are and can raise the alarm if you don’t return when expected.
Check the Weather
Before heading out into the backcountry, it’s important to check the weather forecast. This will help you avoid dangerous conditions, such as avalanche terrain or high winds, and plan your trip accordingly.
Be Ready for Sudden Weather Changes
Even if the forecast is good, it’s important to be prepared for sudden weather changes. This means packing extra clothes and food, and knowing how to build a shelter if necessary.
Carry Your Cell Phone and First-Aid Kit
It’s also a good idea to carry your cell phone and a first-aid kit with you when backcountry skiing or snowboarding. This way, you can call for help if necessary, and treat any injuries that you may sustain.
Stay on Marked Trails or Slopes
When possible, it’s best to stay on marked trails or slopes. This will help you avoid getting lost and make it easier for rescuers to find you if something goes wrong.
Avoid Areas That are Prone to Avalanches
If there is a risk of avalanches in the area you’re planning to ski or snowboard, it’s best to avoid it. This means checking the avalanche forecast and sticking to safe areas.
Learn Technique for Avalanche Rescue
If you’re planning on skiing or snowboarding in avalanche terrain, it’s important to learn the proper techniques for Avalanche Rescue. This includes how to use a beacon, shovel, and probe to find and dig out buried victims.
Wear Proper Clothing and Equipment
When venturing into the backcountry, it’s important to wear proper clothing and equipment. This includes layers of warm clothes, waterproof snowboard boots, and a helmet.
Avoid Alcohol or Drugs While Snowboarding or Skiing
It’s also important to avoid alcohol or drugs while backcountry skiing or snowboarding. This is because they can impair your judgment and reaction time, which could put you in danger.
Know Your Limits
It’s important to know your own limits and to only attempt backcountry skiing or snowboarding if you’re comfortable with the risks. If you’re unsure about something, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and turn back.
Due to the fact that backcountry skiing and snowboarding take place in natural terrain, it can present a number of dangers that other forms of the sport do not. These dangers include avalanches, deep snow, and hidden obstacles.
If you are an experienced backcountry snowboarder or skier, you probably already know how to stay safe in the backcountry. However, if you are new to the sport, it is important to educate yourself on the risks and how to avoid them.
Additionally, ski patrol is always a good idea when backcountry skiing or snowboarding. This is because they are trained to deal with the risks associated with this activity, and can help you if something goes wrong.
Overall, backcountry ski touring or snowboarding can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors and challenge yourself. Consider the risks involved before heading out, and always take the necessary precautions to stay safe. With these tips in mind, you’re sure to have a great time backcountry skiing or snowboarding.
Backcountry Snowboarding 101. (2022). Retrieved 13 October 2022, from https://www.skiutah.com/blog/authors/yeti/backcountry-snowboarding-101-six
How to Get Started Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding | evo. (2022). Retrieved 13 October 2022, from https://www.evo.com/guides/how-to-get-started-backcountry-skiing-snowboarding
Bloemsma, K. (2022). Beginner’s Guide to Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding. Retrieved 13 October 2022, from https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/beginner-s-guide-to-backcountry-skiing-and-snowboarding.html