Uphill Skiing: Subtract Crowds and Lift Lines, Add Cardio

The practice of uphill skiing — better known as skinning or alpine touring — is everywhere in snow country these days.

Comments: 12

  1. Or you could use cross country skis.

  2. The real attraction to backcountry skiing, at least out here in the Northwest, is being able to access areas to ski that are otherwise inaccessible. The threat of avalanches is present in most areas of the western US requiring that the hazard be assessed prior to and during each outing. Additionally, participants need to have avalanche training and carry specialized equipment for avalanche victim location and extraction. The article's failure to mention this is a disservice to the sport.

  3. What would make this sport even better is to make it something more than people just going up and down a mountain. If we could use the equipment to go across a variety of landscape, including more gentle terrain, it would be more like a safari. Better yet, if the equipment were lighter as well, people could use these new 'uphill-and-downhill' skis with less effort and risk of injury. Being lighter, presumably less costly, and suitable for woodlands and forests, the sport could attract a whole new audience to an outdoors experience We could call this new sport 'cross-country skiing'.

  4. There is some overlap, but beyond moving thru snow on skis, not much. Backcountry skiing is going up slopes that ordinary cross country skis could never manage in snow that is often far deeper than what XC skis can plow thru. That’s why they are wider and skins are needed. Of coarse, that makes the BC set up much slower than XC would be on flat terrain. The trade off is the steeper terrain and powder that the BC setup allows you to access. There is plenty of fun to had doing both.

  5. @AnotherNYburber There is some new equipment that's being made now that does what you say: it finds a goldilocks between fast xc skis and big fat backcountry powder skis. Some have removable skins that cover only the under-foot part of the ski that you can quickly take on/off, they have metal edges and intermediate stiffness boots. There is also ski mountaineering equipment and races that are often on very extreme terrain, but utilize featherweight gear and the skiing is done somewhat less well than on big touring gear--it's all fun!

  6. I can remember many years ago talking to an older colleague who grew up in Austria. He told me his favorite part of moving to America was that "I would never have to ski again!" Eventually his children got older and wanted to give it a try. Reluctantly he finally relented. "Then I found the most wonderful invention ever--the chairlift."

  7. I've done this sport for over a decade now. I'd say there are quite a few who have completely gone away from resorts. I've sat on a chairlift on one day in the last 6 years, and that was to try to teach my kid to ski---it'd didn't go well, as we just sat in line with massive crowds every where before we gave up and went cross country skiing instead. To me, I see chairlifts as cheating, not that I judge others, but, I don't see the value of getting to the bottom unless I took myself to the top. It's also true that a backcountry run will be far and away better, more memorable, than an in-bounds run.

  8. Fun to see its popularity grow - but hopefully it retains some of its soul... exploration vs races to the top, environmental stewardship vs parking lots of single occupant SUV’s and condo/airbnb developments. The bluebird idea is a good one in easing people in. Avy risk assessment and skills are very hard to learn on the fly

  9. I started skiing up hill decades ago before the resort opened, for conditioning and to get in the swing before the back country was ready (ok, before I was ready for it). I liked it so much I haven’t ridden a lift since the 90s and don’t miss them at all. With the newer equipment and headlamps it’s a fun “date” or dog walk after hours, in the dark, and a still safe and invigorating work out between trips to “real” ski country. And once you start down on the usual concrete of groomed slopes (the chamber of commerce refers to this stuff as “packed powder” ) you realize there’s little need to visit resort skiing for anything else.

  10. Nice to see this making news. It’s a great way to stay fit— “earn your turns”. Loved it, until he kneels gave out. Whether it’s alpine touring, telemark or simple Nordic, the different systems of boots, bindings and skis offer another way to experience the mountains ( and flats) in snow— and until now— a chance to get away from the crowds.

  11. tuckermans ravine in nh beckons uphill ski climbs with the equipment mentioned in this article. including it in the story along with other northeast opportunities would be helpful. tuckermans is on my bucket list along with skinning up a mountain on skis. nice to see an article about it.

  12. Public lands are public owned. Taos should not be allowed to prohibit access through their area. It's a lease agreement to allow the lifts on Forest Service land. Someone needs to take this to court.