Whether skinning up the mountain on skis or a split board, uphill travel has slowly become a more regular activity seen on the mountain. What use to be limited to the more extreme winter sports veterans is quickly becoming a preferred alternative to taking the lifts or just a great way to get in an early morning workout. For skiers and riders looking to intensify their day, hiking up the mountain is a great way to boost your mountain experience.
If you’ve never attempted uphill mountain travel, there are a few things to consider. In order to trek uphill, you will need specialized equipment. For skiers, this includes alpine touring boots and bindings, as well as skins, the sticky cover for your skis that keeps you from sliding back. If you are snowboarding, you will need a split board to move up the mountain. Once you have your equipment, it’s important to remember to pack responsibly. The hike up will definitely get your blood pumping, so it’s important to dress in layers, and bring extra snacks and plenty of water. Plan on leaving with plenty of time to make it up before the mountain opens. And don’t forget your camera for the early morning sunrise views from the top!
A great way to ease into skinning is to first try out cross country skiing at the Keystone Nordic Center. Daily trail fees are $12 for adults and they offer equipment rentals as well. Lessons in cross country skiing, skate skiing and snowshoeing are available for all levels. An even milder form of mountain travel would be snow shoeing, which does not require uphill movement.
Just like regular mountain operations, there are rules and restrictions when traveling up the mountain. Along with following all of the standard Keystone Resort and US Forest Service rules, you must follow all signs, closures and restrictions on trails; refrain from obstructing normal mountain operations; and stay off the trails during lift operations, currently 8:30 am – 4 pm (or later), among other things (for a complete list of rules go to: http://www.keystoneresort.com/
Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin are also open for limited uphill use this winter. Please check online for specific resort information.