Winning the Uphill Battle – Part I

| August 11, 2008

Struggling uphill is an acquired taste that doesn’t come naturally to most people.  It’s hard, slow, sweaty, frustrating and at times monotonous, but if you can get over this, it is your ticket to backcountry bliss. The effort involved with earning your turns is the basic barrier that keeps the backcountry, being what it is – uncrowded. With time and practice, it not only gets easier, but often can be even more enjoyable than the downhill.  Really. 

Julia Niles smiling through the pain.
Julia Niles smiling through the pain.

Ascending is a mindset.  When you stop fighting it and learn to love it, everything just starts to flow uphill.  For many skiers, including myself, this is the magic moment when you suddenly “get” backcountry skiing, as it becomes much less work and a lot more fun.  How soon you reach this point depends on how hard you work at it, and the more you do it, the easier it gets.  Before long, the only high speed quads you’ll need will be your thighs, not the chairlift.  Embrace the burn, seek purification through perspiration and learn the true meaning behind “that which does not kill you, makes you stronger.”  Skinning is fun.

On a more practical note, eighty percent of your time in the backcountry will be spent ascending, so it is worth coming to terms with it.  Think of the uphill as the skiing and the downhill as the icing on the cake.  When the going gets really grim, remember, the harder it is going up, the better it is going down.

Help support and get 15% off on a Julia Niles style Mountain Hardwear Synchro Pants from! Click the photo below…

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Category: 05 Uphill

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (4)

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  1. Hacksaw says:


    Winning the uphill battle is easier if your knees haven’t been played on so much.


  2. Andrew says:

    Hehehe. Well, hopefully you got a lot of good use out of them beforehand.

  3. Hacksaw says:

    That’s one of the reasons I love heliskiing…..

  4. Jim says:


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