The backcountry is a beautiful, serene place. It’s a place where you can get away from the crowded resorts, lift lines, and screaming children. It’s a place where you can find solace and connect with nature, drawing your lines down the untouched canvas of lofty powder in an expression of pure enjoyment. For some, this is nirvana, but this bliss brings danger as well. Crumbling cornices, avalanches, tree wells, covered rocks, and branches; these are just a few of the threats that nature poses to the backcountry explorer. Having the right equipment and proper training is vital if you plan to play with the ever-shifting snowscape. Also, remember to never go into the backcountry (or even out of bounds at your resort) on your own.
A lightweight packable shovel is key for building jumps and features as well as digging your friends out from tree wells and, in the worst case, an avalanche. A beacon is key to surviving an avalanche so your friends can track your location and find where to start digging you out. A probe is a collapsible pole that is used to poke into the snow to find people that may have been buried in an avalanche. There are various other types of avalanche survival gear available including Avalung Backpacks (a backpack with a breathing nozzle that pulls air in from the surrounding snow and expels the CO2 allowing for users to breath for much longer when buried) and airbag backpacks, which have a pull tab that auto inflates the airbag, keeping you on top of the avalanche, (ideally) floating you to safety.
There’s more than one way to access the backcountry. Splitboarding has become a very popular means of doing so with plenty new products being released, increasing the ease and functionality of the system. A common alternative to splitboarding is snowshoeing with your board on your back. For people with a little more money and a little less patience, taking snowmobiles out and shuttling people up whatever face you want to ride is super fun, or you can go all out and have a helicopter drop you off at the peak of your choice! So however you get out there, make sure you’re prepared to handle nature’s ugly side while you’re enjoying its beauty.