Backcountry skiing can be a fun and enjoyable activity. Before entering the backcountry via a resort gate, a snowmobile, or purely through human power you need to be be aware of the differences and potential dangers that exist for skiers and snowboarders. This page is not meant to be a definitive guide to all of the knowledge needed to safely travel in the backcountry. Instead it is meant to give you a starting place for build your backcountry skill set. Please review our backcountry tips section that includes instructional videos and visit our partner links to information ranging from backcountry forecasts to backcountry safety sites intended to help you increase your educational awareness.
If you would like to add information or a resource to this page please send a message here. Thank you from all of your friends at Christy Sports and please use good judgment and be safe in the backcountry.
Touring Bindings -
We carry three types of touring bindings, Dynafit touring bindings, Fritschi touring bindings, and Marker touring bindings. Each binding has it own characteristics and benefits.
The Dynafit binding is known for it light weight minimalist design. The toe of your touring boot attaches to the binding by engaging two prongs on each side of the boot. The heel is secured by two posts that latch into the heelpiece of your boot. You must have a Dynafit compatible boot to use a Dynafit binding. For the weight conscious touring skier the Dyanfit binding is a great option. All the strides of a tour add up at the end of the day and a light setup can leave you with more energy for the downhill part of the trip.
The Fritschi binding is a versatile binding in that it accepts both touring and alpine boots. The Fritschi binding will feel a bit more familiar to a new Touring skier coming over from the alpine world. With a bar that connects the heel piece to the toe piece the Fritschi provides a very stable skiing platform and allows for a wide range of fit for different boot sole lengths. The Fritschi binding is not as light an option as the Dynafit but is still a great touring binding.
The Marker Tour is a very familiar touring binding for alpine skiers. It functions in much the same way a traditional alpine binding does and accepts both touring and alpine models boots.
All three bindings have different elevation settings for the heel lifters and all can be adjusted while the boot is in the binding.
Choose the binding that best fits your touring needs. A full time touring skier will want to consider the Dynafit while a skier that splits their time between the resort and backcountry may find the Fritschi or the Marker to be a good fit.
Climbing Skins -
Climbing Skins allow you to ascend slopes on your skis. With a touring set up and a good set of properly fit skins any terrain is within reach.
Climbing skins were originally made from animal skins hence the name. Current skins are made from plush nylon fibers and have a directional weave to them. This allows the skin to glide when the skier is sliding the ski forward and hold firm in place when the ski is weighted.
It is important to trim skins properly. Ideally a well trimmed skin will cover the entire width of the P-Tex base of a ski. The skin should not cover the metal edges as you may need the edge purchase when traversing a hard pack slope.
Skins have a special glue that allow them to stick to the ski and hold firmly in place. The glue allows you to remove the skin without leaving any residue on the base of the skis. When not in use on the ski the skins should be folded in halves or quarters with the glue side stuck together.
You can keep your skins warm when not in use by keeping them in your jacket during a tour. This will make them easier to unfold when you need them again.
Kick Turns -
The kick turn is an essential skill for all backcountry skiers. The kick turn enables skiers to climb steep terrain in the backcountry by creating a zig zag track up a slope. By taking a lower angle approach to the climb a skier can save leg strength for the ski down.
To execute a kick turn your skis should be pointed slightly uphill of perpendicular to the fall line of the slope. Your weight should be firmly on your down hill ski creating a stable platform to stand on. Take you uphill ski and turn it in the direction of intended travel which will typically be little less than 180* the other direction. Once you have executed the "pirouette" move the kick turn gets interesting. Transfer your weight to the uphill ski and make sure it is secure on the hill. You can use your poles to help brace yourself throughout the kick turn but be mindful of where they are located as you will need to get your skis around them. Now lift your down hill ski and give the ski a small kick with your heel. The idea is to get the tail to drop and the tip to lift toward your knee. This will allow you to bring your down hill ski around and point it in the new direction of intended travel. At this point what was your downhill ski now becomes your uphill ski and you are ready to make further uphill progress.
The kick turn is critical skill to master and may take time to become proficient at. If your kick turn dissolves into the praying spider pose don't get discouraged it is part of the learning curve. The more you practice the better you will become. Remember a good kick turn is one in which you remain standing at the end of it. Style points are nice but not required.
Ski Crampons -
Ski Crampons are a ridged metal binding attachment that allows you to ascend steep icy slopes. When a climbing skin does not provide enough purchase ski crampons are the answer.
Constructed of metal with serrated edges the crampon attaches to the binding and digs into the surface of the snow providing a stable platform to climb on. The crampon will allow you to climb a steep icy slope without fear of sliding down the slope and loosing the elevation you have already gained.
CAIC - The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is Colorado's premeire resource for up to date avalanche information, weather conditions and avalance forecasting. Based on 10 different zones across the state, much information on weather and avalanche conditions can be gleaned for the specific area of Colorado that you are venturing into.
Visit the CAIC´s website: http://avalanche.state.co.us/
Back Country Access - Back Country Access leads the industry in backcountry safety products and education. Their mission is to save lives. Through this mission, Back Country Access has developed some of the most innovated leading products in the backcountry skier & rider lifesaving business.
Black Diamond Equipment - Black Diamond Equipment is a company built and run by skiers and climbers. Their desires and dreams of new product and innovation are driven from their own experience in the backcountry. This passion has given Black Diamond Equipment many firsts in the ski and climbing industry and promises to keep this backcountry born company at the top of the list.
Dynafit - Dynafit's passion for ski mountaineering has placed them at the top of a highly specialized niche of lightweight high performance ski touring equipment. This technology now touches all facets of ski mountaineering from speed ascents to freeride mountain tours.
Marker - Marker focuses its backcountry equipment on the descent. And in doing so, they have created products like the Mark Tour F12 which is light enought to be used for all day tours, but features the downhill performance that makes Marker a skier's household name.
Arc'teryx- Arc'teryx has managed to create unprecedented art forms in its backcountry apparel through pure design for the highest performance possible. Arc'teryx chooses only the high performing material to mate with its innovative designs resulting in unrivaled backountry ski clothing.
Marmot - Eric Reynolds and Dave Huntley began the Marmot legacy from the necessity to keep warm while on school projects in the icefields of Juneau Alaska. First came Down Jackets and Sleeping bags in the 1970s; now Marmot has a reliable, outdoor tested outdoor clothing product for any backcountry adventure one could imagine.
Mammut - The Mammut Sports Group AG is now an innovative company which develops, manufactures and sells mountaineering, outdoor pursuits and snow sports products. Mammut owes its beginnings to Kaspar Tannerbegan the company in 1862 with the establishment of his traditional ropeworks in Dintikon near Lenzburg.
FlyLow - With roots in backcountry skiing, FlyLow makes ski clothing for the freeride skier who wants a Ski Outfit that is just at home in the backcountry as it is at resorts. Flylow has built a solid reputation around tough, reliable outerwear, ski pants in particular, that get the job done.
The closest touring binding to an alpine binding.
key feature: nylon construction = durable
din range: 3-10
weight: 1720 grams (lg) /pr
New Glide technology vastly improves the alpine feel of this binding.
key feature: wide stance, glide tech
din range: 4-12
weight: 2190 grams /pr
Dynafit's answer for Freeride skiers who are still weight conscious.
key feature: beefed up for this year, but still the lightest in the group
din range: 5-12
weight: 1198 grams /pr
The industry standard for climbing skins. Trim to fit.
key feature: nylon construction = durable
clip style: tip bail and stretch clip tail
The first 3 antenna Tracker. Significantly faster than the the original tracker.
key feature: simple, reliable and easy to use
display: LED, direction and distance
battery requirements : 3 alkaline AAA
Perfect size for extended day trips.
key feature: ski & board carry options
measurements: 24 x 13 x 9"
This snow shovel is tough, packable and versatile.
key feature : entrenching configuration option
shortened length: 49cm
The Quickdraw Super Tour probe is a great choice for long tours & individual rescues where seconds count.
key feature: light, compact & reliable
construction: aluminum, with speed cone system
length: 265cm (99in)
intended use: extended probing & deep snow probing