Travis can't overstress the importance of making sure you're prepared to handle any unseen situation that might arise in the backcountry. Without groomed trails and ski patrol marking off hazardous features, every turn you take is inherently riskier than anything you'll ski in-bounds. Having a backpack with a shovel, beacon, and probe is definitely where you want to start. "Sometimes people don't take it that seriously, but I know from firsthand experience that there is literally nothing more helpless than going into the backcountry unprepared, having a situation arise, and being unable to deal with it," says Travis. "I've seen people sitting around unprepared while a buddy of theirs is buried underneath the snow and there's nothing they can do about it. It can be a pretty serious situation."
The best way to be prepared is to attend a backcountry camp, which some resorts like Jackson Hole are starting to offer.