We like to categorize backcountry skiing into three main categories: touring, turning, and ski mountaineering.
Touring consists of cross-country skiing over flat or rolling terrain. Skiers travel off groomed trails and create their own track, generally never going down slopes greater than 20 degrees, and staying out of avalanche terrain.
Turning involves some touring to get to steeper slopes of 20-45 degrees where skiers and riders focus on downhill travel and making turns. Those focusing on turning will often “lap” a bowl (ski down and hike back up repeatedly) until the slope is tracked out.
Ski mountaineering involves traveling into alpine terrain with short roped sections, rock climbing and steep hiking. It often involves summiting a peak to ski or high-altitude traverses. The Tetons have many great options for all types of skiing.
The difference between these categories is skier ability, the terrain the skier will access, and the type of equipment they will use.
Touring uses light equipment, designed for efficiency in travel over rolling terrain. All ability levels.
Turning requires either telemark orf Alpine Touring equipment designed for traveling and turning. All ability levels.
Ski mountaineering requires alpine-touring equipment, or randonée gear, as well as ropes, harnesses and tools. Intermediate, advanced and expert ability levels.