Out-of-bounds backcountry terrain accessed from ski areas.

Credit: Teton Gravity Research

“Sidecountry” refers to out-of-bounds backcountry terrain accessed from ski areas. While ski patrol conducts extensive avalanche assessments and hazard mitigation inbounds, this is not the case on the other side of the boundary. Once you exit the ski resort through a gate or access point, you are entering the backcountry. The snowpack is different, as are rescue options. Treat lift-accessed backcountry just the same as you would any other backcountry terrain by checking the avalanche forecast, carrying avalanche rescue gear, and traveling with a partner one at a time through avalanche terrain.  In other parts of the world, “off-piste” terrain within the resort may not be mitigated either. Make sure you understand local protocols and travel accordingly.  

Even though there are other tracks leaving the resort boundary, the snowpack is unmitigated for avalanche hazards. This destructive avalanche occurred just outside the boundary of Bridger Bowl Ski Area. Credit: Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center

An avalanche just outside of the ski resort boundary. Credit: Sawtooth Avalanche Center

Ski patrol uses a combination of snowpack disruption techniques, explosive and ski cutting mitigation, and avalanche forecasting to mitigate avalanche hazards inbounds. These techniques are not applied out of bounds. In other parts of the world, ski patrol may not mitigate “off-piste” terrain or ungroomed terrain.  Credit: Mt. Baker Ski Area