This type of boarding started out with fresh powder-craving snowboarders who, most likely, didn't have the cash to spend at crowded upscale ski parks. In fact, before snowboarding was allowed at resorts, this was the only form of snowboarding; Jake Burton, one of the original pioneers of snowboarding, never even considered resorts; backcountry was what he envisioned as the future of snowboarding.
Today, backcountry snowboarding is often for those who have enough cash to afford trips to Alaska or the mountain ranges of the West, to ride outside resorts. Donning snowshoes or a split-board with skins, the backcountry snowboarder cuts a new path up the side of the mountain in search of the very best vistas and untouched snow.
Some of those more cash-endowed riders can even hire snowcats or helicopters to take them where they want to go; this is known as catboarding or heliboarding respectively.
A Split-board is a snowboard cut in half along its length. When apart, the two halves can be used like cross-country skis to ascend a hill. When the snowboarder is ready to descend, the halves are mechanically secured together, and the bindings are repositioned for a snowboarding stance. Without a split-board, snowboarders who want to experience backcountry terrain, bear a little extra burden by carrying their snowboards with a backpack and using snowshoes or cross country skis to ascend.
Snowboarders also use snowmobiles to ride in the backcountry. If the hill is too steep a snowmobile may not make it up the hill. Often snowboarders use snowmobiles to make jumps into the powder.
Safety is key when hiking and riding in the backcountry, especially after a fresh 'dump' of powder. Snow can be extremely unstable, often leading to avalanches. Backcountry riders are advised to take extreme caution in all conditions, to carry avalanche equipment including a probe, beacon, and shovel, and never to ride alone in the backcountry. Avalanche equipment can be purchased or rented at outdoor equipment stores. Courses in avalanche safety are also available.