I began tetonsandwasatch (t&w) for a number of reasons, one of which I long ago mentioned in the Origins section of this site. The reason then given? To present a more fully complete answer to a question which has been posed to me in various forms by many people. Despite the numerous variations, the question has essentially boiled down to, ‘Why do you ski in the backcountry?’
A slice of the backcountry.
Few people have ever questioned why I ski; I think even non-participants intuitively understand that skiing is fun. But the unstated portion of the question revolves around bafflement of why I, or others, would choose to make turns in the wild, untamed mountains, removed from the safety of a controlled ski area environment. You know, a ski resort, complete with chairlifts, ski patrol, warming huts, well plowed parking lots, marked hazards, and signs to keep one from getting lost.
The inquiry only seems to come from non-snow users (non-skiers), or from resort users. I cannot think of a time that a backcountry user has posed any of the variants of the question, as we stood knee deep in the fresh snows of the backcountry. Of course, in such situations, it can be hard not to occasionally mention how much one enjoys the present environment. Many a mountain moment has been filled with discussions of why backcountry skiing is so fun, but none have been precipitated by an inquiry as to why we’re out there.
There are, as you might expect, many answers to the question. Ostensibly, past posts that I’ve written about particular ski outings have posed their own individual answers. Regardless, I want to more fully, and more directly, answer the question. It’s with this in mind that I created a series of answers to present. They are by no means the only reasons, or even the best reasons, that I have chosen to regularly ski in the Teton or the Wasatch backcountry. But they are some of the reasons.
I hope they help those who do not now understand, to find some comprehension of a sport that can appear to involve great risk. And further, to understand why I so rarely say ‘yes’ to the numerous invites to ski inbounds. If reading the reasons (ie., fresh powder) wets your appetite to set your edges in the backcountry, then I’m probably working ever so slightly against myself there.. Although I know the mountains suffer from syndromes such as Wasatch crowding, (that is ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek) there is room for another user or two.
For those of you who already get it, and are out there in the backcountry – sometimes even with me – perhaps you’ll have a chuckle or two. Perhaps we’ll just have a meeting of the minds as you read.
Here follow (the first) dozen reasons why I enjoy skiing in the backcountry. Enjoy!
1 Open Terrain
2 A Sense of Accomplishment
4 The Sense of Adventure
5 Health and Fitness
6 No Set Hours
10 No Rules
12 The Experience