Avoid these Common Backcountry Skiing Mistakes

Skiers love taking on whatever the mountain can dish out. There is nothing better than hitting fresh powder in the backcountry with friends. Canada’s CBC news reported that sales of backcountry ski equipment were up 40 percent at the start of the 2012-13 season and backcountry is no longer a fringe sector.  Ski big, ski fearless, but keep your head on straight. Don’t be the one that needs to be rescued in the backcountry.

Skiing Apparel Crucial to Safety
You have to wear the right gear if you’re spending all day outside in the winter wilderness. The right clothing and equipment will make sure you come home with some legendary tales of skiing the backcountry .

Dress in three layers when carving up the backcountry. A base layer closest to your skin should be form fitting and comfortable. Cotton materials get too wet when you sweat, so choose a wicking and fast drying set of long underwear. The second layer should be clothing items that trap warm air and keep it close to you. Fleece vests or jackets are great options for a second layer. The third layer for skiing is a pair of ski pants and a sturdy ski jacket. They should be waterproof to prevent melting snow from weighing you down. Since skiing requires lots of movement, a ski jacket should fit closely but not restrict movement.

You’ll be much better off using skiing equipment that fits you correctly. Buy backcountry gear at a store that has staff that will help you find the right equipment in the right size. Ask them about freeride gear that can adapt to any type of skiing. Sometimes you really have to spend the extra money to rent any gear that you need instead of borrowing someone else’s equipment.

The Best Way to Stay Safe While Skiing in the Backcountry
There is no way around it; Skiing alone can be very dangerous. Snow, cold wind, and injury are all things that can ruin a day on the mountain. Take a friend out into the backcountry and you’ll both enjoy the fresh powder even more.

Someone else should know where you’ll be skiing and what runs you’re taking. If something happens, they will know where to find you and bring help. Stay in touch with a set of outdoor walkie-talkies while you’re in the backcountry with a group. Getting separated in the wilderness can mean serious problems and you don’t want your friends risking their necks to search for you.

New skiers always want to go big. Be smart. Definitely know what types of slopes and runs you belong on. A backcountry run that scares you probably isn’t a good choice. Live to challenge another day. A green circle, blue square, black diamond will indicate the skill levels required to safely enjoy the slope. Test yourself, but do it with a skilled partner who knows what they’re doing.

Take breaks to catch your breath and get some food. Because of the colder winter temperatures, many skiers can’t tell they are sweating and tired. Take time between each run to stay hydrated with water or sports drink and fueled up with food that serves up big calories.

Cold Weather Survival
If you want to check out the wilderness and push the limits of the mountain, there is no better way than backcountry skiing. The runs are fast and the skies are clear but even then skiers can overlook crucial danger signs.

Know the signs of a possible avalanche. IF you’re buried in an avalanche, you have no more than 5 minutes before serious danger sets in. Recent avalanches in the area, recent heavy snow or rain, and windblown snow drifts could mean that an avalanche may happen in the area. Avoid trails or runs that seem like they have unsteady snow.

Slow speech, slurred words, sleepiness, and unstable emotions could be signs of Hypothermia. This can happen because of extended exposure to the cold. If this happens, get the person indoors if possible.  Restore warmth slowly. Remove any wet clothing and replace it with blankets and dry clothes. Give the person warm liquids to increase their body temperature.

Skiing is the best way to soak up all that fresh snowfall. Keep pushing limits and crushing snow. The mountain awaits.