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Back, Slack and Side

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Define your terms. How far back is backcountry? What is the difference between sidecountry and slackcountry? Sound off.
post #2 of 11
Sidecountry or slackcountry is the area you can have at least part of the uphill assisted by a fixed mechanical lift.  Backcountry is everything else.
post #3 of 11
If it's uncontrolled I consider it backcountry. Even if I got off a lift and traversed in.
post #4 of 11
I'm not really in the scene, but here's the way I read it.
Jer is right -- it is all backcountry.  And it is important to reinforce that for safety reasons.

Sidecountry is backcountry that you don't have to work for, cause you can ski out of the boundaries at the top and back in at the bottom.
Slackcountry is a disparaging variation on sidecountry, used by those that think suffering is good for you or that sidecountry gets too much traffic to be the pure experience.  Or by ironic hipsters making fun of themselves.
post #5 of 11
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

......  Or by ironic hipsters making fun of themselves.

Really the latter.

Out of bounds can be slackcountry or backcountry.  If it is lift assisted, IMO it is slackcountry. I do lots of slackcountry (including earned turns) and some backcountry.  If it is well away from a resort, then you are in the backcountry.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

How far back do you define as backcountry? Here in the Alps, for example, there are lots of times where you can see villages, roads, lifts, even, but you are most decidedly in the backcountry. You are definitely on your own and the only way anyone's going to get you out would be by helicopter.

But, is slackcountry and sidecountry the same thing? I suspect mdf's take is correct, eg, sidecountry is the generic term/slackcountry a disparaging take on same.

post #7 of 11
Backcounty is not a place, but a method of skiing.  Although I have no outside basis for it, I have always thought the definitions have to do with the uphill mode.

Backcountry = totally human powered out of bounds.

Slackcountry = lift up, ski out of bounds back to the lifts.

Sidecoutry = lift up, to assit you in skiing off the area by additional human powered climbing.
Edited by mudfoot - 11/30/09 at 8:08am
post #8 of 11
Additionally, as with all outdoor activities, some find it important to differentiate their personal awesomeness over others by implying others are merely a slack or side country skier, compared to backcountry. Thus the 'slack country' term. In all cases, you can burn varying degrees of calories (requiring reasonable to extreme fitness) to earn turns and die if you aren't prepared, make bad choices and can't deal with dire situations. I like Jer's description best.

For some, side or slack country skiing is far more accessible, which by shear numbers (and ignorance) could result in more deaths. Backcountry typically takes more time, effort and you'd hope more preparedness......and a lifestyle that can allow this on a frequent basis.
Edited by Alpinord - 11/30/09 at 8:57am
post #9 of 11
My definitions were aimed at defining types of skiing.  I agree that any terrain outside the contolled ski area boundary is "backcountry," regardless of if it ends in a mall parking lot.
post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post

My definitions were aimed at defining types of skiing.

Which were good and concise. In case you took my comment the wrong way, I was pointing out that the 'slack' country term's roots were a form of disparagement AFAIK.
post #11 of 11

Any terrain that is not controlled for regualar rec use is backcountry. Sidecountry is truely backcountry.  Yet, they (I have no idea who?) came up with term sidecountry so that it could be viewed differently, mainly for avalanches.  This was due to the fact that frontcountry (another great term that I credit Martin Volken for) skiiers that go from the resort to the backcountry are expecting the snow conditions to be same as inbounds.  Yet, much to their suprise it is not (and this past year you can see this in the avalanche accidents in the US and Canada). 

Slackcountry is a slang term that someone invented for sidecountry, that came from the word slacker or someone who is lazy

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