Our backcountry skiing Experts have compiled this list of technique tips and general advice for maximizing fun and safety while skiing in the backcountry.
BC TECH TIP #1
Avalanche safety knowledge is absolutely critical in the backcountry. Make sure you're familiar with the terrain and the conditions, have proper avalanche gear and know how to use it. New to the backcountry or need to brush up on your skills? Take an avalanche course!.
BC TECH TIP #2
Keep your body weight centered directly over your feet and set the skins into the snow by transferring weight down through your boots on each successive glide. This makes the grain of the skin bite better into the snow which reduces backsliding and thus wasted energy.
BC TECH TIP #3
Be ready with multiple backcountry tour options in case your first choice becomes unsafe due to snowpack or weather conditions. Thankfully, the Wasatch offers a wealth of backcountry terrain, so if you keep your senses about you, there is virtually always a safe alternative.
BC TECH TIP #4
If you have adjustable poles, make them longer for support on the ascent, and shorter for more aggressive skiing on the descent. If it’s really cold, you may want to compromise on the length of the poles on the ascent so that your hands are rarely above the level of your heart; this will keep the blood flowing to them freely so they stay as toasty as the rest of you.
BC TECH TIP #5
If you have a long uphill traverse in one direction, it sometimes helps to lengthen the ski pole on your downhill side for better leverage. You can do the same thing with the multiple climbing bar heights on your bindings by setting the one on the downhill ski higher. It will make it so you don’t feel like one leg is shorter than the other.
BC TECH TIP #6
When you are done for the day, fold your climbing skins once with the “fur” on the outside and hang them up to dry. When they’re done drying, fold them into their bag and close it tightly to keep the glue from drying out. If you keep them clean and follow this procedure, your climbing skins will go several years without requiring a new application of glue.
BC TECH TIP #7
Don’t assume the sidecountry is safe just because it’s visible from a resort chairlift. Once you exit through a resort boundary gate, you enter wild, unpatrolled terrain, and unfortunately there have been several people killed 'just out of bounds.
BC TECH TIP #8
Familiarize yourself with your climbing bars (the lifts you can adjust under your heel) and don’t be afraid to use them on steep pitches. And, remember to set your boots into ‘walk mode’ for the uphill, and ‘ski mode’ for the downhill!
BC TECH TIP #9
To keep climbing skins effectively sticky, make sure the undersides only ever touch clean ski bases or fold over on themselves. (Dog hair is especially effective at making skins lose their stickiness.)
BC TECH TIP #10
Keep a skin wax like Glob Stopper handy in your pack to coat the outsides of the skins if they’re not gliding smoothly across the snow.
BC TECH TIP #11
Instead of climbing directly up the fall line, cut switchbacks when skinning uphill to conserve energy.
BC TECH TIP #12
It sounds really obvious, but remember to enjoy the uphill because you’re going to spend a whole lot more time going up than coming down.