Backcountry skiing and splitboarding are having a moment, but plenty of adventurous folks are still on the fence about giving it a try. Maybe that describes you. Maybe it describes a friend or partner you’re trying to convince. Either way, we made this list to help you take the plunge.
1. It’s better than snowshoeing.
Ok, we’re a little biased, but backcountry touring is definitely cooler than post-holing in snowshoes. Skinning on AT skis or a splitboard is the most efficient way to cover distance over deep snow.
2. You can do it anywhere.
No need to drive hours to the nearest resort. Once you learn to tour safely, any mountain can be your playground. (Brand new? Bluebird Backcountry is a great place to practice backcountry skiing or splitboarding in a more controlled environment.)
3. It’s great exercise.
Legs, arms, core—touring is basically nature’s elliptical. Plus, just think how good that burger will taste when you’ve been charging uphill all day.
4. It’s better for the environment.
It’s easy math: Ski lifts run on fossil fuels; your legs run on burritos. The latter produce a lot less greenhouse gas. (We can’t speak to the other kind of gas, though.) Backcountry touring is one easy way to reduce your impact as a skier or snowboarder.
5. You won’t get cold.
Ever stripped down to your T-shirt on a lift? We didn’t think so. While resorts have you sitting still and cooling off between runs, skinning uphill keeps you moving at a steady pace and staying toasty all day long.
6. Backcountry skiing and splitboarding are easy to learn.
The backcountry does have a learning curve, but most of it is getting a feel for ungroomed snow and understanding avalanche safety (which you can learn in beginner-friendly backcountry education programs). The actual motion of skinning? It’s as simple as walking—just way more fun.
7. You’ll save money.
Yes, getting the appropriate backcountry setup and avalanche safety education can be expensive. But the lifetime savings of not having to buy a big resort pass—or overpriced resort food—more than makes up for the initial investment.
8. It opens up new objectives.
Maybe you’re not sure about backcountry skiing or splitboarding because you’ve already got your winter “thing.” Maybe it’s ice climbing, winter camping, photography, or even alpine ice skating. Learn to backcountry ski, and you’ll be able to reach cooler campsites, more ice, and better views with one of the most efficient modes of winter travel around.
9. You’ll experience the soul of winter.
Resorts can be loud and crowded. At times, they feel artificial. Backcountry touring lets you access the quiet peace of nature under snow—something that can be tougher to find at resorts.
10. The turns are way sweeter.
Learn to backcountry ski or splitboard, and you won’t have to fight for first chair to get first tracks. Plus, when you’ve worked hard to gain a ridge or summit, you appreciate every turn so much more.