Mountain Skills: The tools and tricks to stay motivated in the skintrack

In 2016, Aaron Rice skied 2.5 million human-powered vertical feet, and there were definitely times when he just didn’t feel like skinning. He often wanted to ski one less run or even lay down in the snow and cry. But he knew that, to reach his goal, he had to become a master of motivating himself to start earlier, go longer, go faster and stop later.

Mountain Skills: Essential Education

The list of skills and knowledge needed to get into the mountains is never ending. In fact, it’s subject matter that numerous careers are built on, but safe and efficient backcountry travel doesn’t necessarily require a PhD in snow science or a guide’s certification. It takes common sense, good partners, a willingness to learn and, above all, the following 10 things that every skier and rider should know.

Mountain Skills: Cody Townsend Ditches Deviance

What do space shuttles and backcountry skiing have in common? According to freeride skier Cody Townsend, it’s a relationship that stems from an explosion and a theory. Better yet, he’s adapted a method of assessing off-piste risk based on that relationship.

Talking Risk: How to Better Understand and Communicate About Uncertainty

Traveling in the backcountry means moving through a constantly changing environment. Because of this, it’s important to communicate about uncertainty throughout the day. Sometimes decisions are easy and obvious. Sometimes they’re tricky. The one constant is that uncertainty will exist, so guide and educator Sarah Carpenter shares how we can effectively talk about risk.

Mountain Skills: Knowing When To Turn Around

As spring approaches, the days get warmer and the snow on the ground changes; the daily cycle of snow warming and freezing heals many of the deep instabilities that persisted throughout the winter; typical instabilities become easier to predict. And while wet avalanches—either slab or loose—are easier to predict and run more slowly, they can still pack a punch. Therefore, getting off a slope before it becomes dangerous is important.

Mountain Skills: Hydrate or Die

We lose fluids through perspiration (sweating) and respiration (breathing). While ski touring, high elevation and drier air make this even more dramatic. And during the spring, warm weather further exaggerates the amount of fluid lost. Dehydration leads to a drop of performance—in stages from slowing down to bonking to needing medical attention.

Mountain Skills: Anticipating Point Release Avalanches

As the spring approaches, many of us turn our attention to steeper, more technical lines higher in the mountains. The layers of snow that formed throughout the winter begin to gain strength and the avalanche problem is less complicated—it’s ski mountaineering season! But as the temperatures climb, wet avalanches become a more regular, primary concern.

Checklists, Beacon Checks and Route Planning: Building Systems as a Backcountry Traveler

Avalanche educator Sarah Carpenter knows consistency is the key to backcountry safety. With that in mind, she’s created a system to make sure her beacon is turned on, her plan is in line with the forecast and her entire group is on the same page.

Mountain Skills: Professional vs. Recreational Avalanche Training…what’s in it for me?

This winter, avalanche education in the U.S. will be evolving. The old system of Level 1, 2, 3 will be replaced with two options: a recreational track and one geared toward professionals. The goal of the split is to deliver better, more focused courses to each user group. So how do you know which one’s for you? Here’s the breakdown.

Mountain Skills: The “Hell yes, or no way” approach to terrain management

Heading into the winter is a good time for professionals and recreators to re-evaluate their decision-making tactics. At the Wyoming Snow and Avalanche Workshop last month, speakers considered whether the larger backcountry community assimilates too much danger in its daily practices.

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