Blog reader Scott brought up a good point (see his comment on previous post) about how the word “backcountry” is gradually creeping into the lexicon of developed ski resorts. Indeed, the word “backcountry” is so popular now it’s a powerful marketing word that’s used in a variety of ways and thus losing specificity. Witness the purchase of the domain name backcountry.com by Backcountry Store in 2004 for $75,000.
My first definition would be that a “backcountry” ski location would be an area without any ski related commercial maintenance such as cutting ski trails, and that it’s not patrolled by the ski patrol (though if close to a ski resort you could still get rescued by the patrol). But like many attempts at definition that’s got plenty of glitches. If a ski resort is closed and you skin up for a run, that could easily be backcountry skiing in my view.
We had this discussion a while back on the original Couloir web forums, and someone said they felt backcountry skiing was simply based on how you felt while making turns. That’s going a bit far for this kid, though perhaps it could be defined by what clothing you wear (smile)?
In all, the definition of “backcountry skiing” is like a lot of things: “I can’t define it in words but I know it when I see it…”
What’s your definition? Comments on!
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.