A Beginner&039s Guide To Ski Touring | Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports

    Backcountry skiing is the ultimate for many skiers as it opens up a whole new side to the mountain and the resort. the journey, the adventure and the virgin snow make it a very satisfying experience. however, it can seem a bit intimidating to those new to the sport, so we’ve put together this list of top tips to help provide a guide for beginners.

    ski touring gear: keep it light

    Backcountry skiing requires a lot of gear, so it really pays to take some time to research and make sure you have everything you need to start off on the front foot. As an absolute minimum you will need:

    Reading: What is ski touring

    • backcountry skis and bindings
    • skins
    • backcountry ski boots
    • ski poles – ideally adjustable/long grips and with baskets wide
    • transceiver, probe and shovel
    • backpack
    • suitable clothing (more on this shortly)

    with ski touring, lightness is key. the heavier your gear, the harder the climb will be, and ultimately your day won’t be as much fun (unless you’re looking for a heavy leg workout!).

    clothes – layer system

    Ski Touring

    Backcountry skiing is a sport of extreme temperatures. On the way up, you can get very hot very quickly, before quickly becoming very cold when you take a break, reach the top, or ski again. therefore, it is crucial that you wear your clothes properly.

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    The easiest and most effective way to deal with this is to use a layering system to allow for a comfortable body temperature at all times. while it completely depends on conditions and temperatures, you’ll often find that starting with just a base layer and cover is enough to start with, as it will heat up quickly as the gradient increases. then you can put on a warmer mid layer on top before going down to keep warm.

    A good pair of ski socks is a must for ski touring. look for a pair that provides good protection around the heel and toes with little extra bulk. a pair of merino-lined gloves are also very helpful for the skin.

    The usefulness of a layering system is a key reason to carry a backpack. not only can you use it to grab some supplies, but it’s crucial for storing your layers and is also handy for putting on your skins before descent.

    fitness – be physically prepared

    Backcountry powder after ski touring

    Backcountry skiing is a demanding sport and skinning uphill is excellent exercise. therefore, it is important that you have a good level of fitness before your first trip. In the summer and fall months, hiking, running, biking, and rock climbing will help you build your fitness for the winter months.

    Although ski touring is an efficient sport, the fitter you are, the easier it will be and the more you will enjoy the descent.

    your first tour

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    make sure you are a confident alpine skier. you want to be a good intermediate on the track: which means you feel completely comfortable on the blue and red tracks, and pretty solid on the black and off-piste.

    For your first run, be sure to keep it simple by choosing a smooth route. will help you introduce your team and start establishing basic technique.

    However, the most important advice before embarking on your first tour is to not go out alone. While the backcountry offers so many incredible opportunities for exploration, it can also be dangerous. ideally, make your first trip with a guide or a friend with experience in ski touring. they will be able to not only teach you crucial techniques, but also offer important safety tips and advice on what to watch out for.

    If possible, it’s also really beneficial to do field safety training before your first trip, learning basic mountain safety along with how to properly check the weather and avalanche danger levels. You should also make sure you are familiar with the use of your transceiver, sonar and shovel in the event of an avalanche. some basic training with this equipment is invaluable.

    progression: mark your skinning technique

    Putting skins on touring skis

    Efficient skinning is the key to a great day of ski touring. it saves energy and makes your day more enjoyable, while allowing you to cover more ground. here are some basic tips on skinning techniques that are key to taking your tour to the next level.

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    • slide the skis instead of lifting them. make sure the base is in contact with the snow throughout your stride.
    • master the kick turn. It’s arguably the most difficult aspect of skinning to master, so it’s really worth spending time practicing and improving your technique, as it’s hands down the best way to turn on the steep slopes.
    • hold your ski poles higher for more balance and forward propulsion, using your arms to support your legs.
    • manage and master the bindings in the different heel piece positions: flat – medium – tall. the touring bindings come with a heel assist that can be adjusted to different heights depending on the steepness of the slope. most of the time, it will pick up in the middle position, which generally provides the best grip for cross lines

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