Living in a mountain town full of outdoor activities, uphill skiing has really caught on as the latest workout for the outdoor enthusiast. Have you heard of the term “earn your turns”? Uphill skiing (also known as skinning and ski touring) is your chance to earn those turns by gliding up the mountain on specific ski equipment and enjoying a ski down. No chairlifts (or lift ticket) required.
Although this may be the latest craze for people to get outside and exercise, skinning is not a new sport. Skinning has been embedded within European ski history for a long time and within the past 4-5 years has really launched as a local fitness staple getting up before dawn or after work exercise in our mountain town. Last weekend Aspen held the annual “America's Uphill”, a longtime Aspen favorite that attracts hundreds of racers each year. This spring ritual finishes at the top of Ajax, and hosts a big celebration after.
According to a Bloomberg Pursuits online article, Dan Sherman, Vice President of Marketing at Ski.com, said the rising trend can be attributed to gear improvements that make ski touring less onerous. “Uphill skiing has long been part of European ski culture,” he said. “But as gear is becoming more versatile and accessible, we’re seeing more and more vacation-goers taking an interest in North America.”
The issue with picking up a new sport, is the gear. Similar to your usual ski set up, Alpine Terrain (AT) gear is lighter in weight and allows enhanced flexibility. AT boots and bindings provide a free heel binding with a “walk/glide” mode and “ski” mode allowing you the opportunity to either glide uphill and ski down. The “skins” which are festoon below the skis are long strips of nylon with mohair or synthetic fur on one side and an adhesive on the other. Think of the skins like a cat’s tongue, with the ability to grip the snow as you walk up. To rent or buy, check out Four Mountain Sports for the latest equipment in ski touring.
Interested in getting your heart going and a great work out? All four Aspen Snowmass mountains have an uphill skiing policy. Click here to learn more about the designated routes and policies for each.
UPHILLING RULES FOR SNOWMASS
• Uphillers must remain visible at all times. • Uphillers must stay on the side of the trail. • Uphillers must be aware of downhill traffic and avoid blind spots. • Uphillers must be aware that the slopes are in use 24 hours a day, and to be on guard for snowmobiles, snowcats and other vehicular traffic operated by Aspen Snowmass. • Uphillers must stay away from all snowmaking equipment and may not cross snowmaking lines at any time. • All uphillers must have a valid lift ticket or pass to ride up any lifts. • Uphill traffic may be restricted due to avalanche mitigation efforts or ski area construction and maintenance activities. • As with downhill traffic, uphill traffic must obey all on-mountain signage — including closed runs — and ropelines. • Dogs are not permitted under any circumstances during operational hours. • Adams Avenue is closed to uphill traffic.
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