Ski touring in the High Tauern mountain range near Bad Gastein, Austria
© RooM the Agency/Alam
Winter in the backcountry. Ski touring in Austria
The High Tauern mountain range above the Austrian spa town of Bad Gastein is one of many regions around the world that attract brave ski-touring enthusiasts, like the three skiers crossing the ridge here. Ski touring is a sport for only the most skilled athletes since it usually involves navigating remote alpine territory and climbing with mountaineering gear, generally without removing your skis.
It's usually done off-piste, or outside the established boundaries of ski resorts. And while 'backcountry' skiers will sometimes take a ski lift or helicopter to far-flung slopes in the upper elevations, those who commit to true ski touring do the hard work themselves—the point is often to reach the most remote areas they can find, and to do it under their own power. The skiing itself can be a combination of downhill and cross-country styles. Ski touring has been around since the late 19th century but has become more popular in the past few decades.