Please write the most common/general/appropriate term (to be used as a tag) for the activity described below in an answer.

There is this one outdoorsy activity that we had some questions on, but that does not have a dedicated tag. I would like to use this tag, but as a non-native English speaker I am unsure what is the most common/general/appropriate term. There probably is one "correct" answer, at least in German there is. So let me describe what I mean (well it's in the title and probably obvious, so this might be too long).

The activity is simple: Go up a mountain with skis on your feet (meaning "motorised transportation" like lifts/helicopters/... may be used for initial access, but are not the main part of the ascent) and then descend them again. The equipment is a ski similar to a piste ski but normally lighter and wider. The binding has some sort of mechanism to either fixate the shoe on the ski totally (descent) or only at the tip, such that the foot can rotate forward (ascent). To not slip backwards you put skins on the bottom of the skis.

The reason I am asking is that I have two terms in mind, one is more or less the equivalent to German (so I would naturally pick that), but the other might be the "correct" one (or there is yet another).

As per @Sue's request here is a picture of the gear used. Well it isn't the best representation, but you can see the the bindings, lifting of the left heel (just about) and you can just make out the skins at the front (and clips at the back). Well, that's what I found when quickly looking through parts of my pictures, apparently I don't usually focus on gear. gear used in ascent mode

  • 2
    Backcountry skiing
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 16:26
  • It would help if you linked the questions you wanted to tag or asked the question. Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 2:42
  • @CharlieBrumbaugh I purposely didn't want to mention any specifics to get as non-biased answers as possible. Is the activity not clear based on the description?
    – imsodin
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 8:44
  • Do you want to include or exclude taking a helicopter to the top of the mountain then ski down? Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 13:11
  • 1
    @JamesJenkins Definitely exclude.
    – imsodin
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 13:39
  • Than I don't think the 'Backcountry skiing' would work, it would if it was inclusive of all means of access. Have you tried to get translations of the German word? Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 15:34
  • @JamesJenkins I did, I also read Wikipedia articles. I do have a clear favorite, but I haven't seen it used consistently and it is the most literal equivalent to the German term. That's why I think I might be biased and this term isn't actually commonly in use - which would kind of defeat it's purpose. I was secretly hoping someone brings that term up and others will support it, such that I can use it :P
    – imsodin
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 15:48
  • 1
    It has been a couple days, you might as well toss your word out and see if it works, if you want to wait a bit longer to see if someone responds, that is ok, but I would not wait more then about a week. Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 17:37
  • @Paparazzi I finally added an answer as proposed, please consider adding yours such that there can be some kind of vote (or anyone with any other term for that matter).
    – imsodin
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 10:59
  • I looked through the existing questions and it looks like we should clean up the skiing tags. Not sure I care enough to put the effort into it especially as the last time I proposed new tags without specifying the questions it went over like a ton of bricks. Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 20:13
  • I think we can rule out cross-country skiing, for the reasons I stated in a comment under JJ's answer. However, in browsing the web, I came upon ski-mountaineering. I voted for Back country skiing, which I find inclusive. If you want a tag specifically for walking up the mountain with skis on your feet, then you need a tag in addition to backcountry skiing. That means three tags: x-country, backcountry, and X. So my Q is: do you want to be a lumper or a splitter?
    – ab2
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 1:57
  • Would you mind posting a picture of the ski you're referring to for this activity? I Googled it but don't trust what I found because I'm not a skier. (I don't like anything that makes me cold!!) I also Googled the terminology but most of these terms somehow run around in circles and include each other! If there's a way I can help, let me know! Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 21:13
  • Thanks for the picture! In my head I was thinking of something a little different. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 1:59
  • @CharlieBrumbaugh You just added alpine-tour to a question - I wasn't aware this existed and have never heard those two terms used together, but from looking at the questions, it seems like it is exactly what I describe hear. I would love a comment on that and how it relates to the terms brought up in the answers here.
    – imsodin
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 17:44
  • I added the alpine-tour because the question had two tags alpine and tour (which the user had created just for that question) so it seemed a no-brainer to just use the alpine-tour instead. I don't really ski, so I am staying out of the debate on terms Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 1:14

3 Answers 3


So apparently my elaborate (actually rubbish) scheme to not bring up any terms myself has failed. The reason for doing so is that there is an abundance of terms which are to my level of understand equivalent: Alpine Touring (AT), ski randonee, ski touring and probably more. Then there is backcountry skiing, which seems to be most common but as far as I understand is just defined by skiing off-piste, so no skinning up the mountain required ( while not excluded). If it were me, I would use

Ski Touring

but as mentioned, that is based on the undisputed term used in German which is "Skitouren".

  • 1
    Off-piste is skiing off trail but in bounds at a ski area. Out of bounds and/or around the boundaries of a ski area is called side country. Ski touring would work but for me it carries a slight connotation of backpacking with skis unlike backcountry skiing which is more akin to hiking with skis
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 14:46
  • Also AT/randonee are synonymous, and both refer to a class binding used. Specifically they exclude the use of telemark bindings.
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 15:44

Backcountry skiing is the term I use.


TL:DR I think you are looking for the term cross country skiing

After looking up Ski Touring on Google and finding ~5M hits reading the description

Ski touring is a form of backcountry skiing where both uphill and downhill travel are possible without needing to remove skis. Typically touring is done off-piste and outside of ski resorts, and may extend over a period of more than one day.

I Think the more general English term would be cross country skiing which has ~36M hits, with the description.

Skis, poles, boots, bindings. Cross-country skiing is a form of skiing where skiers rely on their own locomotion to move across snow-covered terrain, rather than using ski lifts or other forms of assistance.

While backcountry skiing with ~2M hits is also an option, It includes backcountry skiing helicopter assisted events. Which your comments indicate you want to exclude.

Backcountry skiing (US), also called off-piste (Europe) or out-of-area, is skiing in the backcountry on unmarked or unpatrolled areas either inside or outside a ski resort's boundaries. This contrasts with alpine skiing which is typically done on groomed trails benefiting from a ski patrol.

  • 3
    Thanks for the explanations. What made me dismiss cross-country, is that on almost all images I see when searching for cross country skiing the slender type of skis without edges and bindings which are not fixable at the heel for downhill is shown. So I assumed that it is separate from the activity I described. But again, that may be a language bias, as cross-country is Langlauf in German, which is a very narrow term (and certainly does not include Skitouren). I am curious to see what will come out of this :)
    – imsodin
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 13:22
  • I agree with @imsodin cross country skiing is a specific discipline and often occurs on groomed trails.
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 14:50
  • 1
    @imsodin Cross-country skiing is much tamer than the activity you describe. Cross-country skiing is usually a one day excursion, and on trails, which are often groomed, or on un-ploughed roads. The elevation change is fairly gentle. My vote is for back-country skiing. A helicopter assist will be specifically mentioned; back-country skiing by itself does not include helicopter assist. The biggest difference is that you can put a total neophyte on cross country skis and point him to the trail and he will be able to have fun.
    – ab2
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 18:04
  • Good research!!
    – user2766
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 14:43
  • This makes sense. I'd personally go on with 'backcountry skiing'. +1!
    – WedaPashi Mod
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 6:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .