A review of circumstances surrounding 19 backcountry deaths in Alberta, Canada, between 1980 and 1991 suggests several factors that increase the risk of injury or death. This study provides a descriptive profile of a fatally injured backcountry skier and the circumstances surrounding his or her death. The individual most likely to suffer a fatal injury while participating in a backcountry ski activity is a 36-year-old man. He is typically an experienced backcountry skier who chooses to ski in areas where the avalanche hazard is known to be moderate to extreme. Delineating the personal characteristics of those at risk for backcountry injury and identifying situations that put them at risk will enable better design of education programs. Targeting high-risk groups may also reduce the incidence of death from this activity.