Anybody Can Ski Uphill

   S+B’s Robin Brown, a former Captain in the Army and an Iraq war veteran, skins up Mt. Halgurd in Iraq as part of the “Adventure Not War” documentary film. Visit   spokeandblossom.com     to see the film, or use the direct link  ( vimeo.com/242347548 ) . The very same ski mountaineering gear can be used to skin up our hometown mountains at Powderhorn Ski Resort. The benefits include a cardio workout, solitude, and access sans lifts.      Photograph by  Max Lowe

S+B’s Robin Brown, a former Captain in the Army and an Iraq war veteran, skins up Mt. Halgurd in Iraq as part of the “Adventure Not War” documentary film. Visit spokeandblossom.com to see the film, or use the direct link (vimeo.com/242347548). The very same ski mountaineering gear can be used to skin up our hometown mountains at Powderhorn Ski Resort. The benefits include a cardio workout, solitude, and access sans lifts.

Photograph by Max Lowe

    Yes, you can go up the mountain without a ski lift. Once you get there, you have as much fun coming down as ever — but this time you really earned it! For good reason, the skin up/ski down concept is gaining in popularity. If you’re the type that prefers the solitude of a long trail run or bike ride compared to the gym or a crowded park, backcountry skiing is the winter sport for you. 

    You can get started with a few modifications to your current downhill gear, adding to it as you explore this incredible Colorado experience. 

    In additon to the gear pictured here, you’ll need a pack for carrying your skins on the downhill and your clothing layers and drinks.

    Where can you skimo? Most resorts have specific uphill skin routes, and sometimes offer reduced prices to use the resort. The endgame is true backcountry skiing without a lift in sight, or (eventually) skimo racing events.

    To get started, visit the experts at our Grand Junction HQs: Board & Buckle on North Avenue, or Summit Canyon Mountaineering on Main Street. Go in with an open mind, and be honest about your goals. Is your plan to transition from 100 percent downhill skiing to occasionally skinning up and skiing down, still spending about half your time skiing inbounds and using the lift? Do you plan to get a dedicated set of equipment, skipping the resort altogether, and instead skiing the backcountry all day? Or do you envision yourself wearing spandex and following the skimo race circuit? 

    Whatever your goals, start the avalanche-training conversation now — it could save your life. As your AT skills evolve, you’ll need to think about avalanche gear like a beacon, a probe,  and a shovel.

    Next, find an out-of-the-way place on day one of learning to skin uphill and do kick turns, lest all your friends laugh at you. 

    Finally, have no fear — just when living in Colorado couldn’t get any better, you’re learning to ski uphill! 

Skis

Whatever you have now will work, as long as your skins fit. The sky is the limit as you explore lighter-weight, AT-specific skis.

Skins

For all options, you’ll need climbing skins, which stick to your skis and allow you to climb without sliding backwards. Your skins need to be sized right and trimmed to fit your skis. Secure the skins to the ski tips, roll them down, secure on the back tips, and repeat!

Clothes

You already have what you need. You’ll work hard on the uphill, so prepare to shed layers. Pants that have zippered vents are ideal.

Boots

No need to upgrade today, but a ski/walk mode is a huge bonus, as are AT-specific boots. Your boots have to match your binding style.

Bindings

For the uphill, you’ll need specific bindings that release your heel but keep your toe locked. Use your current boots with a frame AT binding on your current skis. For lower weight but higher cost, move to a tech binding. You’ll need an AT-specific boot for these, where pins lock in your toe.