Ski mountaineering is about immense freedom

Ski mountaineering is about immense freedom

Winter season is in full swing and here come the questions how to diversify regular workout. Some are OK with downhill skiing or snowboarding; some want to be more active and go for cross-country skiing. But for some, freedom is more important, and ski mountaineering is for those.

What is the difference between cross-country skiing and ski mountaineering?

Ski mountaineering or ski touring is a sport that built the base for both cross-country skiing and classic downhill skiing. It gives an incomparable freedom of movement to any other ski types. Ski mountaineering skis are actually classic skis with adjusted bindings, that are a bit like cross-country skis, but with a heel that can be switched to a fixed-heel skiing mode. It is similar with the boots that are flexible, like cross-country boots. Or you can tighten them to make them classic ski boots. Thanks to this combination, you can move on flat platform or downhill very freely. Going uphill, you just stick textured skins, and you can climb much steeper hills than with cross-country skis.

What do they bring on top of freedom?

Ski mountaineering is a perfect endurance workout with a minimum strain on joints. It strengthens muscles that we use while running. Climbing up slopes or steep Alpine hills gives us necessary power and stamina. Going downhill practices our balance that will come handy when avoiding injuries during trail runs. A significant benefit of ski mountaineering is using the upper half of the body when such a complex use of the whole muscular apparatus outstandingly improves VO2Max.

Where to go ski mountaineering?

Of course, the best place are the Alps, where you can follow many marked routes, or you can hire a mountain leader that can take you to wonderful places. However, interesting routes can be found also here, in Dolní Morava or in Šumava, specifically the German parts of Velký Javor.

What all do you need?

The basics are good quality ski mountaineering skis, bindings, and boots. The clothes are the same as for winter running or cross-country skiing. So, something distinctly lighter and more flexible than for classic skiing but completed with a quality membrane jacket. It will be useful on a hill or for descending, which is going to be windy. Put some Flapjack or Voltage into your backpack because you may spend hours in the mountains in winter and the energy will come in handy. Me myself, I take with me two or three Endurosnack, because anything can happen in the mountains and having some extra energy won’t hurt.

How to go for ski mountaineering in Czechia or Moravia?

Here, it has been popular to go either downhill skiing or cross-country skiing. But times change and why couldn’t we put these two sports together? If you are into it, you should try ski mountaineering. A sport that keeps the best of both.

But – do we have suitable conditions for it here? The answer is surprisingly easy – yes, we do. Some ski mountaineers (or ski tourers) simply choose to climb the side of the slope up and then they go nicely down the hill. That is a great workout that will strengthen you and is perfect for the beginnings, when you need to get some experience, but year by year there are more and more marked ski mountaineering routes all over our country from Beskydy to Šumava. Since we share the mountains with another visitors, cross-country skiers, tourists, and classic skiers, it is good to know the basic rules when ski mountaineering in ski resorts:

  • We use only the marked routes for ski mountaineering. If there are no marked routes and the conditions do not allow me to move anywhere else than on the slope, then I always go up the slope on its side in a way, to minimize limitations and threats for other skiers.
  • If we move as a group, we always ascend in a row one behind the other.
  • I am utmost careful in the terrain or in a limited visibility, I use reflective colours or a reflective vest, and I always have my headlamp on at night.
  • I do not enter slopes that are under construction.
  • If I really need to go down a fresh slope, I always use its side in such a way to do the least damage.
  • I always follow the instructions and recommendations of employees of the ski resorts.
  • If the ski resort requires that, I pay the fee for artificial snow and slope maintenance.

If you follow these rules, there is nothing to worry about. Ski resorts invest each year considerable amounts of money to maintenance and artificial snow. It is desirable to act thoughtfully and be solidary. Since we usually move around national parks and natural reservations, we also abide by their rules, so we can freely spend our time there also in next years to come. I am looking forward to meeting you somewhere in the mountains this winder. Maybe during the test days, for the beginning – they will take place almost every week during winter.

Text: Michal,

Bc. Veronika Pokorná, DiS.

Bc. Veronika Pokorná, DiS. 8.1.2019

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