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What You Need to Know About Skimo

Front-Country Skimo

Many ski areas allow people to skin up and then ski down, usually before or after normal hours of operation.

Here’s what you need to know before you go:

  • Call ahead to be sure the ski area allows it and find out where to go. Some ski areas allow you skin up and ski down only on certain trails.
  • Bring a headlamp, especially during December and January.
  • Wear goggles with clear lenses. It’s easier to see in limited light or when using a headlamp.
  • Dress in layers. You’ll heat up on the way up and then cool off on the way down.
  • Wear a helmet on the way down, just as you would when alpine skiing.
  • Use an insulated hydration system so it doesn’t freeze up.
  • Watch for snowmaking hoses and guns, which might be on the trail when the lifts are closed.
  • Grooming machines have the right-of-way. If you see one coming, get out of the way quickly.


Backcountry Skimo

Heading into the backcountry? In addition to the front-country tips above, here are a few more:

  • Check the snow conditions, particularly the avalanche danger, before you go. If it rains then freezes or vice versa, conditions may be particularly unstable.
  • Go with at least two other people. If one of you gets hurt, one can stay with the victim while the other goes for help. Calling 911 works in the backcountry if you have a cell signal.
  • Pick your day wisely. If the weather is marginal, don’t risk it.
  • Bring a down jacket and an extra base-layer top. When you stop to rest, throw on the puffy to stay warm. It may also save your life if you inadvertently spend a winter night in the woods. When you get to the top, change to your dry base layer. Remember, wet is cold and cotton kills in the backcountry.
  • Carry standard backcountry skiing gear, including a transceiver, shovel, and probe, and know how to use them.
  • If the snow seems unstable and you can’t bail out, stick to the ridgelines and higher humps rather than the middle of the ravines and gullies, and spread out.

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