Winning the Uphill Battle – Part II

| August 12, 2008 | 2 Comments
continued from yesterday…

A good way to learn is to follow in the footsteps (or more likely, skin tracks) of more experienced skiers.  Try to match their stride, look where they plant their poles, get a feel for the all day ascent angle, mimic their posture, and generally try to absorb what they are doing, while of course maintaining a safe distance from their tails.  It is kind of like uphill osmosis.  If you don’t have someone to learn from, see if you can pick out clues from a pre-broken trail.  Ascending is only boring if you make it that way.  Instead, be active and involved — think about  improving and getting more efficient, not just plodding along. 

If you can stay focused and engaged, skinning is fun in the same way as friction climbing.  Armond, Weedy and Lorne punching it out up Thunder Mountain.
If you can stay focused and engaged, skinning is fun in the same way as friction climbing. Armond, Weedy and Lorne punching it out up Thunder Mountain.

I had the misfortune of learning how to skin from Alex Lowe.  Like most people who went out with him, I was overwhelmed just trying to keep up, let alone do any trail breaking.  Among our small group, we’d try to figure out strategies to keep from getting dusted by Alex, like carrying less weight, starting out with less clothing on, getting plenty of sleep, strapping water bottles to our waistbelts, always climbing with one heel lifter setting and many other futile tricks that never seemed to help.  What finally did help was when Alex won an international alpine speed climbing championship, as it made me realize it was pointless to try and keep up with him, so I slowed down and started developing my own pace, which over time has increased.  Skinning is one of those activities where you get faster by starting out slow, both in the long and short term.  The real (and only) secret to speedy climbing it is to do it a lot.

tomorrow – part III

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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 (2)

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  1. Hacksaw says:

    I once heard someone describe skining with Alex Lowe as, “taking a rambunctious Moose for a walk on a short leash…”

    Did you say that Andrew?

  2. Andrew says:

    I like it and suspect Alex would have as well! Just about anyone who went skiing or climbing with Alex came away with a newfound appreciation for the sport and how far they could take it. We use to kid him about being the only person we knew who got face-shots on the uphill as well as the down. He seemed to have an unlimited amount of energy and enthusiasm.

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