Sure wish I knew who keeps making these videos!
If I hear one more person say that they “skied the backcountry today” after riding the tram…I’m gonna puke! To purists like myself (maybe?) there is a BIG difference between backcountry, frontcountry, sidecountry and slackcountry. Yeah, we can have fun in all of them, but with the way skiing out-of-bounds and backountry skiing is taking off, it’s imperative that we get these terms and our actions straight. Granted, some of the terms may be included under the broad term of “backcountry skiing”, but some further description of the specific terrain is sometimes needed. Here’s what I think the terms mean.
Slackcountry = Terrain outside of the ski area boundary that is accessed from a lift without having to skin or bootpack. Usually this also bears true with access getting back to the lift as well. For purists, this could also include areas like Beartooth Pass where people ski from switchback to switchback and use a car as a shuttle.
Sidecountry = Terrain that is accesses from a lift with the use of a bootpack or skin track. Areas accessed by long traverses, though with no bootpack or skin track are still covered under the “sidecountry” label. For purists, no matter how far you skin away from the resort, if you used the lift to gain vertical, it’s still “sidecountry”.
Frontcountry = Mainly associated with mountain passes, it’s the areas that require a bootpack or skin track to access the goods, but then you ski right back to the road. For purists, this term could really be pushed to include anything that is a simple skin up…and ski back down to the road.
Backcountry = Ski terrain accessed by your own power, but I’m pretty sure it’s okay to drive to the trailhead. I think long approaches on flat terrain are what make the difference between frontcountry and backcountry…as well as starting from a low point or valley…as opposed to a mountain pass. For purists…this is where they prefer to spend their time…shredding the pow!!