Do you love to ski or snowboard and are looking for your next adventure? Tired of sharing the same old slopes with a crowd of mixed skiing abilities? Backcountry skiing could be the solution you are after.
To help you plan your next snowy escape and backcountry adventure, here is our guide for how to get started.
What Is Backcountry Skiing?
Backcountry skiing involves skiing or snowboarding outside the bounds of a resort’s grounds or a designated ski field. This can mean trekking or taking a helicopter into secluded wilderness areas that are unpatrolled and unmarked. These off-piste areas offer an unmatched experience for those willing to trek to their location.
Backcountry skiing is not to be confused with alpine skiing which most often involves groomed trails and the presence of a patrol. Ski touring is similar to backcountry skiing, but usually eschews the use of transport such as a helicopter or ski lifts.
How To Prepare
While you do not need to be an elite athlete to enjoy backcountry skiing and snowboarding, you will need a decent level of physical fitness. Backcountry skiing involves a lot of climbing up steep slopes that are deep with snow which can be very physically taxing.
Aside from your fitness level, you need to prepare yourself with the appropriate gear. In addition to your skis or snowboard, this includes but is not limited to things such as:
Climbing skins are specially made pieces of plush material that are pre-cut and adhere to the bottom of your skis. They make it easier for you to climb uphill while wearing your ski as the ‘nap’ of the material helps you grip the snow while climbing but glide when skiing.
similar to regular ski poles, backcountry ski poles simply offer more functionality. Featuring an adjustable design you can lengthen them for flat terrain or shorten them for ascending steep terrain.
A tough, purpose-made backpack, a ski pack should easily hold avalanche rescue tools, a hydration bladder sleeve, food, attachment points for hanging essentials when not in use and more. A great ski pack will also be waterproof or heavily water resistant.
Highly recommended for backcountry skiers, an avalanche beacon supports rescue workers to locate you should you become trapped following an avalanche. Worn comfortably over your shoulder, it delivers valuable peace of mind.
Additional essentials such as jackets, gloves, a shovel, helmets and more are all available on our site.
In many backcountry skiing locations, avalanches are a common occurrence. You may also experience strong winds, icy slopes and fall risks from cliff tops. Due to the isolated nature of these areas, it is essential you be mindful of your safety and those with you at all times.
Aside from equipping yourself with the correct gear, you may like to consider attending an avalanche safety course as well as an avalanche rescue course. These courses prepare you for how to handle emergencies and how to make life-saving decisions.
Best Places In Australia For Backcountry Skiing
There are some fantastic backcountry skiing locations in the South East of Australia, particularly in the alpine regions of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. While the best time to visit these locations vary from year to year, the season most often begins around mid-June and can continue on till the end of November as Spring wraps up. You may like to consider visiting Mt Kosciusko in New South Wales, Mount Feathertop and the Razorback in Victoria or Cradle Mountain in Tasmania among other spectacular spots.