Backcountry skiing usually refers to both downhill and uphill travel. Most skiers at resorts and professional trails use ski lifts, trams, or gondolas to gain access to downhill turns, but backcountry skiers must hike or skin up the slope. Skiers are able to travel uphill by simply attaching 'skins' to their skis.
Backcountry skiers must be skilled in traveling through the mountains, should be trained in practicing first aid in the wilderness, and must carry and know how to use avalanche safety gear. Learning how to keep safe and sound in backcountry terrain takes a great deal of in-depth study and continual practice.
Skiing without a guide is totally inappropriate for most recreational skiers, for families or young children, or for anyone with physical fitness challenges. There are many resources for assistance for skiers who would like to attempt skiing the backcountry terrain.
You are solely responsible for evaluating the risks and managing any situations that may arise. In the backcountry environment, something as simple as a sprained ankle can quickly become life-threatening if you are unable to move quickly and have not prepared to survive the night in the snow. Also, the threat of an avalanche is always a real possibility.
For this reason, everyone should always pack avalanche safety gear. This equipment includes, at a minimum, an avalanche shovel, an avalanche beacon or transceiver, a snow probe, and preferably a skiing partner who also has training and rescue gear.
Skiing solo in the backcountry is a disastrous idea. For the most successful adventure, be sure to have a partner on your journey, prepare and practice sufficiently, and pack all the gear necessary for survival.
For a feeling of solitude and freedom, and the adventure of exploring a wide white world of untracked powder, there is no greater thrill than backcountry skiing.