My journey begins
My journey to ski touring doesn’t start anywhere unique. I grew up in New Jersey but spent almost every winter weekend of my childhood in the mountains of Vermont. I started as a skier, and transitioned to snowboarding as a teen because, it was so cool. To be honest, I never really loved snowboarding. I liked the concept of it, but I never found myself to be any good. I was always slow on the trails and I couldn’t do a trick to save my life – but hey, I looked cool. So years later when I met my now husband (who is an avid skier), I was intrigued by the concept of switching over. And so, late in my twenties with almost 10 years of sub-par snowboarding under my belt, I made the switch.
Strapping on skis
I want to say I was a natural, but it took me over a year before I even became comfortable, and yet another before I would tackle anything remotely off the beaten path. But that was the point where my life as a skier changed. New to ski touring, My husband challenged me to come with him, and I gave it a shot in snowshoes.
I went up the mountain, soaking wet in sweat, and looking down at the tree-filled route, I wondered how in the world I’d make it down. But I kept trudging along. My first couple of runs over my first season were a disaster. The way up was fine, but the backcountry was not my friend. I fell at almost every turn and if I didn’t fall, the fear of hitting a tree made me lock up in pizza-mode. But with all practice comes experience, experience comes skill, and for me – that skill begot passion.
and The ski touring passion Begins
I invested in ski touring bindings and skins and never looked back. I found myself no longer interested in traditional resort skiing, and deeply upset when my favorite resorts didn’t allow uphill travel. Even off season I would scout out places that would be perfect for a quick ski touring run. I became obsessed. But it was more than just the thrill of the downhill, it was the pride in the ascent. Friends I talk to can’t understand why I go through all of the hassle of climbing when there are lifts. But that is exactly why I love it so much. With each push up you are earning the joy of one turn, and that exchange brings a whole new life to skiing. Climbing the mountain almost gives you the right to ride down its trails.
But ski touring isn’t easy. It’s physically exhausting and takes a significant amount of time to find backcountry trails to explore. Luckily, the outdoors community is always keen to provide tips on local trails that are in good condition, and there are some great resorts who allow for uphill travel. All of these make the thrill of touring possible, and while I’m very new to the east coast scene, it is a passion I can’t wait to nurture.
If you are willing to give it a try, it doesn’t take much! Start by snowshoeing up with skis attached to your pack. This will give you a good understanding of what it’s like before you invest in gear. But as you fall in love, you’ll want to buy some skins (like these) and touring bindings (like these). Those are similar to what I have, but as you grow more experienced, there are better options. Like gear that is more optimal for technical climbs – like light, flexible boots made specifically for touring and Kingpin bindings.
Enjoy and get out there!