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  • The World of Australian Backcountry Ski Touring

    March 14, 2021 5 min read

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    The World of Australian Backcountry Ski Touring

    Can you imagine the feeling of freedom and peace if you chose to ski outside the lines? There would be no more long wait times at the ski lifts and no more crowded snow playgrounds or ramps. For a seasoned skier, that sounds like a dream. If you have never tried backcountry ski touring, you are missing out!

    Backcountry Skiing in Australia

    What is Backcountry skiing?

    Backcountry skiing is skiing in remote areas, not within the ski area boundaries of the resort. The adrenaline junkies who seek adventure usually opt for backcountry skiing, pushing their capabilities and mental capacity. You never know what could be around the next corner or how big a drop-off may be. Backcountry skis have bindings that release for the uphill trek if your designated area is not accessible by chair lift or road. With a simple click back down, the binding and ski connect again, allowing you to control your downhill journey. Ultimately, backcountry skiing is a mix between downhill skiing and cross-country skiing, with more freedom and adventure.

    Where is The Best Place to Go Backcountry Skiing in Australia?

    In Australia, there is a vast number of great locations for backcountry ski touring. It's not as popular as North America and Europe, however, it's certainly growing in popularity each year, as more skiers are looking for something different and exhilarating. Several locations offer diverse terrains, picture-perfect locations, and breathtaking views for both beginner and advanced backcountry skiers.

    Best Place to Go Backcountry Skiing in Australia

    Image Source / Instagram (mjdphotosdotcom)

    Top 5 Locations for Backcountry Skiing in Australia

    The Snowy Mountains Backcountry Skiing (NSW)

    The Snowy Mountains is known to be one of the best backcountry skiing locations in Australia. With breathtaking views and an ever-changing landscape everywhere you look, these ranges should undoubtedly be at the top of your skiing bucket list. Snowy Mountains offer superb ski touring slopes, including the Main Range, Guthega River area & The Paralyser Range, perfect for any ability. If it is your first time, we recommend going through a program such as Snowy Mountains Backcountry Introductory Tours, where you'll be taught everything you need to know about backcountry skiing. There are also advanced tours for riders ready to face all mountain challenges, such as the Main Range Tour, Western Faces Experience and 3 Peaks High Route. Snowy Mountains Backcountry has something for every level of backcountry enthusiast.

    Snowy Mountains Skiing

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    The Snowy Mountains Backcountry Skiing

    Image Source / Instagram (blackersmelb_11)

    Mt. Howitt Backcountry Skiing (Victoria)

    Located north-west of Melbourne in the Great Dividing Range, Mount Howitt sits at the head of the Howqua, Wonnangatta, and Macalister valleys. Mt. Howitt attracts fewer crowds, thus a lot quieter than Mt Buller, due to how increasingly difficult it is to access. The untracked terrain and extended touring area proffers Mt. Howitt, a popular destination for backcountry skiing. Not to mention, The Crosscut Saw (the most impressive ridgeline in VIC) and The Razorback are crowd favourites. If you are an avid skier and looking for a playground to sink your skis into untouched terrain, the vast range of slopes to ride on will certainly not disappoint you.

    Mt Howitt

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    Mt Howitt  backcountry

    Image Source / Instagram (mark.oates)

    The Ducane Traverse Backcountry Skiing (Tasmania)

    Tasmania tends to get passed off when it comes to snow and backcountry skiing, but it's truly remarkable and levels upmost backcountry location in VIC and NSW. If you're a serious skier, The Ducane Traverse is for you, located in the southern heart of the Overland Track, it requires a few days trek or ferry ride to reach. The terrain is extremely difficult, recommended for avid backcountry skiers. The location is remote, and the weather is increasingly challenging, nothing like you would have seen before. If you are up for an extraordinary adventure and like to get the adrenaline pumping, The Ducane Traverse is perfect.

    Ducane Traverse

    Image Source / Instagram (mark.oates)

    Ducane Tasmania

    Image Source / Instagram (mark.oates)

    Mt Feathertop Backcountry Skiing (Victoria)

    Mt Feathertop is a popular backcountry touring destination in Victoria due to its proximity to Mt Hotham. The mountain has steep summit slopes instead of a rounded summit dome and towers over other Mountains in the distance. The South Face is well-known for its wide-open bowls, steep narrow chutes, and big cliffs. During the winter, a sizeable snow cornice can form along the summit ridge. When it collapses, it can become hazardous, thus guided tours and educating yourself about Mt Feathertop before proceeding is crucial.

    Ducane Traverse

    Image Source / Instagram (mark.oates)

    Ducane Tasmania

    Image Source / Instagram (mark.oates)

    Mt McKay Backcountry Skiing (Victoria)

    Mt Feathertop is a popular backcountry touring destination in Victoria due to its proximity to Mt Hotham. The mountain has steep summit slopes instead of a rounded summit dome and towers over other Mountains in the distance. The South Face is well-known for its wide-open bowls, steep narrow chutes, and big cliffs. During the winter, a sizeable snow cornice can form along the summit ridge. When it collapses, it can become hazardous, thus guided tours and educating yourself about Mt Feathertop before proceeding is crucial.

    Ducane Traverse

    Image Source / Instagram (mark.oates)

    Ducane Tasmania

    Image Source / Instagram (mark.oates)

    Guide for Backcountry Ski Tours

    Dressing Appropriately for the Mountains

    Backcountry skiing consists of uphill and downhill travel, making it difficult when choosing what to wear. Layering is key to staying warm, zipping up the jacket while skiing downhill, then taking off a layer while traveling uphill. Staying dry and having the correct ski gear on that allows for ventilation is another essential factor. Check out our Layering Guide on how to dress appropriately for the slopes. Adding to this, investing in quality footwear and a comfortable backpack is also essential to make your journey as easy as possible and to minimise any potential discomfort.

    Hiring Tour Guides for Your Backcountry Skiing

    We advise newcomers to have an accredited tour guide or group to ensure the journey is ultimately safe. Since these areas are unmarked by ski resorts, there is a higher chance of injuries or complications.

    Bring Enough Food and Water to Last You

    Bringing light snacks that are full of energy and are easy to carry will help keep you going for when you are spending hours experiencing the incredible backcountry. Snacks like muesli bars, a light sandwich or even some nuts to keep your body's energy up are perfect to put in your backpack. It is also imperative to have adequate water - investing in a 2 or more litre water bottle to ensure you are fully hydrated for the journey is essential.

    What is the Difference between Cross-Country Skiing and Backcountry Skiing?

    As mentioned before, backcountry skiing is typically skiing outside the patrolled boundaries of a ski resort. The terrain can get quite tricky and steep but incorporates uphill and downhill skiing. In contrast, cross-country skiing consists of skiing on rolling landscapes that are gentler and flat than downhill skiing terrain. The skis are long and skinny, with flexible boots designed to lift and down off the skis.

    Have any other recommended places for backcountry skiing? Let us know by getting in touch or hitting us up on Facebook!

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