For those skiers who really love to indulge in a sense of adventure, backcountry skiing may be a great option to investigate.
The crew here at Aussieskier are very experienced at all things ski-touring and can offer some excellent advice on choosing the perfect gear setup to get you outside of the resort and earning your turns.
First and foremost, the safety of you and your touring buddies needs to be well considered. There is endless fun to be had in the backcountry but it’s wise to remember that Mother Nature is a fickle mistress and conditions can change in a heartbeat. Having a strong understanding of how weather conditions can affect snowpack, as well as being able to safely navigate your way around a mountain environment are necessary skills. There is also some essential avalanche safety equipment that you should carry with you and know how to use. An avalanche transceiver, a snow shovel and a probe should be the bare minimum.
A well designed ski backpack will assist in carrying these items with you, as well as providing space for water, and all important snacks!
Touring skis are designed to allow you to get uphill with less effort and manoeuvre the many conditions you may face in the ever-changing backcountry.
A good Alpine Touring ski has a couple of notable characteristics. Tip rocker, traditional camber and mild tail rocker is the perfect profile for touring in Australia. With larger rocker zones for touring overseas. ~100mm is a great waist width for touring in Australia, whereas 105-110mm may be preferred if you are chasing powder. Alpine Touring Skis should have a relatively lightweight core, and in most cases forgo the metal sheets that provide piste performance in All-Mountain Skis.
Alpine Touring bindings have seen a huge transformation in the last few years, with safer and burlier pin bindings coming out and lighter weight frame bindings as well. Check out the G3 Zed full tech binding, perfect for those missions up Mt Bogong. New from 2018/2019, the Fritschi Tecton and Salomon Shift open more new doors in the Alpine Touring world but flouting alpine performance in a tech toed touring binding.
Alpine Touring ski boots are designed for use in the back country and off-piste skiing. They utilize strong and lightweight plastic as well as a walk mode to make skinning and boot packing much easier and less energy consuming.
Adjustable ski poles will give you the advantage of being able to vary the length of your poles when walking up hill as well as being able to stash them in your pack when not in use.
Climbing Skins are one of the most important pieces of kit in the Backcountry. Having any piece of gear fail completely will likely ruin a backcountry trip but having a skin fail could have some dire consequences if you are miles from the trailhead or in glaciated terrain. Like most things in life, preventing issues is a lot cheaper and easier than fixing issues. Check this blog for advice on how best to care for your skins and keep them performing at their best
Finally, getting your outerwear and layering options dialled will ensure you are comfortable, warm, dry and protected on your epic adventure days. This guide will give you all the information you need to choose the best clothing options for the backcountry.