So - what equipment do you need to go backcountry skiing. Well the short answer is none! There's absolutely nothing stopping you from slinging your skis over your shoulder and going for a walk to an untouched area. Plenty of top-notch skiing is accessed by a short bootpack from the top of a lift, however the further you intend to venture, the more this can be assisted by specialist equipment. Backcountry skiing is a world awash with equipment - obsessed with shaving grams with exotic materials. But in this article we will focus on the bare minimum equipment required for a hitherto Alpine Skier to venture into some slackcountry/backcountry lines.
I apologise in advance for the preachy tone of this article, but it never ceases to amaze me just how clueless Australians are when it comes to this topic, and just how aggro they become when confronted with it. Don't believe me? Head to the Peak at Niseko. My intention in this segment on Safety is not to educate on the specifics of avalanche safety, as I am vastly unqualified to do this, but to emphasise that no matter how experienced a resort skier may be, they need to swallow their ego, remove their hubris and educate & equip themselves appropriately to ski out of bounds.
The first question people ask me is why it took so long? Why did I wait until my early 30's to discover this latent passion for skiing beyond the ropes? Especially considering I spent 10 years skiing full time, back-to-back winters, with well over 2000 days on snow in this period. The main answer is that I was busy. As you move up the ranks of instructing your time becomes more scarce - request private lessons, work with the APSI, training for exams etc quickly gobbles up whatever free time you may have to the point where a day out of boots is bliss and if you do ski on a day off the concept of walking up the hill is somewhat abhorrent to your battle-scarred body.