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Backcountry skiing growth. Real or fictional?

Hawkshot99

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In the thread about the price of Disney vs. lift ticket Nick made a comment how the rise of ticket prices has increased backcountry skiing.

Side thought: I wonder if the growth in BC skiing is a result of current ticket price growth.

I didnt want to sidetrack that topic so I decide to start a new thread.

Backcountry gear is one of the fastest growing segments of the ski industrty. Nearly every manufacture has a AT boot, or a resort boot that is capable of some touring, and there are lots of options of touring bindings as well.
The retail side of the industry reports huge growth in the #'s of this type of gear sales.
But is there truly a growth in backcountry skiing? I personally say no. I know many people who own a boot that is designed for skinning, or bindings, or many peole with both. However I only know 1 person personally that has ever actually used this type of gear for BC skiing. In all of my trips away from a resort, I have never seen another person, or even tracks left by others.
I feel that BC gear can be related to a Jeep Wrangler. Lots of people buy it to go offroading, but rarely do most of them ever actully leave a road. Maybe the person buys the gear with the intentions of true use, or just for the image.
Unfortunetly there is no way to track actual BC skiing by lift ticket #'s or simular, so there is no idea at the actual amount that it is done.
The people of this site may do more BC skiing than the average person, but I do not consider us normal. We sit on a computer when it is summer dreaming about the upcoming cold and snow:lol::smash:.

So what do you all think of BC skiing? Is it a truely growing portion of the industry? I would really like to hear from the more northern people, who are closer to more consistant BC options.
 

thetrailboss

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It might be because of my locale, but there sure are a lot of BC folks out here. Lots of folks that do slackcountry at ski areas on both coasts (and as we know some that get into trouble). So I'd say, yes, there's growth.
 

watkin

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You can also consider all these early season hikers to be BC skiers since there are no resort resources available. One of the FIS posts stated that this past Weds morning there were 25+ cars at Stowe lot at 6 in the morning. So, yes there is growth.
 

Nick

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There was a news article I posted recently that had to do with a backcountry gathering. Here it is:

http://www.alpinezone.com/news-and-...ry-ski-forum-november-14th-promote-bc-skiing/

Actually - it's being held tonight I just realized!

Anyway, a conversation on Facebook surrounded this also where they talked about the growth of it. My guess is some of the more "core" backcountry skiers won't like the increased talk and maybe som elevel of mainstreaming of BC skiing.

Personally - I really do want to get into backcountry skiing. As of now, I have been skiing exclusively on lift served terrain. I was hoping to pick up AT bindings this year however with the new baby coming it might be postponed. The difficulty for me personally with getting into BC skiing is that I have a family / wife / kids and they want the amenities and downtime that you can get a resort (going inside for hot chocolate and lunch, etc). My son is only 18 months so there is no way I'm going to be able to carry him to the top of a back country slope hahaha.
 

Huck_It_Baby

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.

But is there truly a growth in backcountry skiing? I personally say no.

In all of my trips away from a resort, I have never seen another person, or even tracks left by others.

I think that you are just in the wrong location to notice a trend in a sport that requires healthy amounts of snow. Where do you BC ski?

BC is pretty popular up here in N. VT. On Oct 27th I skinned up Stowe and there were scores of people hiking. Families with little kids even. Everything off the quad was getting hit. I don't really consider hiking trails at Stowe before the lifts open to be BC but you get the idea...Earned turns with touring gear.

Go to the Tear Drop trail on the west side of Mansfield and you will see TONS of cars and skiers.

Go to Tux on a sunny day in the spring and see MASSES of ppl up there.

Popular BC options up here get tracked out very fast but the mountains are vast and powder is always to be found =)
 

Hawkshot99

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It seems that my person findings on this are in the minority. I am trully happy to hear that. More people doing it the better gear that will be developed and hopefully for cheaper.
Maybe it is because I spend most of my time down in the Birkshires and not N. VT. All I know is when talking to the manufactures they are pushing us very heavy on the BC gear, but very rarely do I have a person come in for it. I know many people who have "walkable" boots or bindings such as the Duke but pretty much none of them ever have used it for its intended purpose.
I am not a defender of the BC thinking I should be the only person out there, so I am happy to hear that the people in more perminetly snowy areas see much more of this segment of the industry.

Sent from my SGH-S959G using Tapatalk 2
 

millerm277

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I think there is significant growth in real backcountry, but that it's still a small minority, and probably always will be. I think the bigger sales driver is the increased popularity of "slackcountry" and other off-trail exploration.

To put it another way, there aren't that many people climbing up a mountain from the bottom. But there's a lot more people interested in a bit of a hike to get to and from interesting terrain, and there's a lot more of that terrain becoming available/mainstream. Think what Sugarloaf's doing with the whole Brackett Basin area, for example.
 

timm

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I'd be curious if there are any actual numbers on this but my personal observation is it seems like side/slackcountry has exploded but true backcountry skiing has seen a much, much smaller amount of growth and most of the new gear that's being pushed reflects this. It's not really true backcountry touring gear, it's way heavy alpine gear with some touring capabilities best used in the sidecountry.
 

timm

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I think there is significant growth in real backcountry, but that it's still a small minority, and probably always will be. I think the bigger sales driver is the increased popularity of "slackcountry" and other off-trail exploration.

To put it another way, there aren't that many people climbing up a mountain from the bottom. But there's a lot more people interested in a bit of a hike to get to and from interesting terrain, and there's a lot more of that terrain becoming available/mainstream. Think what Sugarloaf's doing with the whole Brackett Basin area, for example.

This. I should've hit refresh.
 

Huck_It_Baby

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I think there is significant growth in real backcountry, but that it's still a small minority, and probably always will be. I think the bigger sales driver is the increased popularity of "slackcountry" and other off-trail exploration.

I'd be curious if there are any actual numbers on this but my personal observation is it seems like side/slackcountry has exploded but true backcountry skiing has seen a much, much smaller amount of growth and most of the new gear that's being pushed reflects this. It's not really true backcountry touring gear, it's way heavy alpine gear with some touring capabilities best used in the sidecountry.


I agree with you guys on this. Lots of people are in the side country and that is driving things from a sale perspective.

The fact that there are now so many hybrid touring/alpine options proves growth in this area. Side-country is how it starts....eventually some (not all) of these side country people will start hike and skin in the BC.
 

dlague

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The think there is significant growth. However, it is not an all or nothing proposition. I think there are BC folks who still buy lift tickets and vice versa there are people who mostly downhill ski but buy BC gear for those times where they want to earn their turns! My son and I are getting together some gear so we have that option! We will be 90% resort skiing and 10% BC.
 

catsup948

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Manufacturers are looking at all these resorts opening sidecountry terrain both here in the east and out west. They are trying to create products that will allow skiers to access this terrain easier. They are looking to make money. Popularity is very much there.
I backcountry ski in and around southern Vermont so can agree that there is very little skier traffic in the woods around here. I can say there is a lot of good skiing and its ok with me that no one skis it!
 

goldsbar

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To put it another way, there aren't that many people climbing up a mountain from the bottom.

This. If you take a lift up and climb up or traverse another few hundred feet, not really back country by my definition. Not saying the terrain is different, just that it's very accessible and you could easily get by with normal gear.

How many people actually live near suitable terrain? SLC, Tetons, Sierras, N VT, Daks, etc. Sure, I'm sure there are times you could get true back country in the Cats but not consistently. Even the good areas are often under high avi threat.
 

Huck_It_Baby

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This. If you take a lift up and climb up or traverse another few hundred feet, not really back country by my definition. Not saying the terrain is different, just that it's very accessible and you could easily get by with normal gear.

How many people actually live near suitable terrain? SLC, Tetons, Sierras, N VT, Daks, etc. Sure, I'm sure there are times you could get true back country in the Cats but not consistently. Even the good areas are often under high avi threat.

More than you think!

It's really not as unattainable as you are portraying. Drive to some state land , Slap the skins on and hike. Enjoy the ride down. Repeat.
 

AHM

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Blowing up big and will only continue

Backcountry skiing is taking off big time, including NE. I was at the BC forum in Rochester VT (sponsored by RASTA:razz:) on Thursday night. The building was jammed with over 100 people. Check out most huts and they are booked: Summit huts etc. Go to any pull out, especially out west like Red Mt Pass summit or really any of the pull outs in those passes (Coalbank, Moles, RM, Berthoud, Loveland, the list goes on and on) and they're full of cars. Park in Baker's Heather Meadows parking lot and it is full and 90% of the skiers are just touring, never using the lifts. The Chic Chocs is getting way more skiers than previously.

EMS runs avi 1 courses every weekend and they are full constantly. As Huck it mentions, Tucks in the spring jammed, well you can add to that other major gullies as well and there are way more people there than a few years ago. On a single day in March this past season I saw 10 + skiers in King Ravine. Three years ago there would be none. The Eastern Snow and Avalanche workshop in NC on Nov 9 had 150 people paying 75/head to attend.

The backcountry ski bug is biting very hard throughout the sport and will only continue. I am an AIARE (American institute of avalanche research and education) instructor and I get calls from all over the place looking for instructors to come out and teach because all of their classes are full and they are looking to add more instructors and more people. Skins are your friend!
 

dmc

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I know a lot of people with BC gear in the corner collecting dust..

Include me in that group - i haven't had a chance to really BC in a while... :(
 
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