Backcountry has become a catch-all term to describe any skiing or snowboarding outside of controlled, maintained and pisted ski areas. This can include anything from true wilderness to within a few miles or even metres of controlled areas.
When backcountry involves a human-powered ascent; using a combination of climbing skins, crampons, or hiking to reach the most difficult terrain and powder, it is most often called alpine touring, or the French 'randonnée'. Riding backcountry is more dangerous as there are no ski patrols checking on snow stability and general mountain safety.
Other terms you may hear include sidecountry, slackcountry, or lift-accessed backcountry. This is used to describe backcountry areas that can be accessed from the usual ski lifts and pistes, but carry the same risks as true wilderness. Skiers and snowboarders seeking sidecountry will take a ski lift up the mountain, then use a combination of booting, skinning, and traversing to access their line.
Backcountry and sidecountry riding requires an acceptance and responsibility for the risks and dangers involved so it’s important to not only have the right equipment but know how to use it.
What about Avalanches, how do you know when it's going to slide?
For snowboarders, a splitboard is a great options. A splitboard is a snowboard that has been cut in two, vertically, to make two͚ skis͛. These skis can be used to hike uphill to reach the perfect powder out in the backcountry, using climbing skins, like a snowshoe. Once you've reached the top, you fit the skis back together to create a snowboard to ride down.
Read more about How to get Started with Spiltboarding
Every rider should carry an avalanche transceiver, a shovel, and a probe to help you find, and be found, in the event of an avalanche. Even with proper rescue technique, the chance of survival in an avalanche is very low so it's important you can act quickly.