Gaining experience

Gaining and using the following cross country skiing skills provides the basis for ski touring and backcountry skiing:

  • Diagonal stride – a “kick and glide” with alternate pole plants

  • Double poling – using both poles to push down gentle descents

  • Skating – pushing on alternate skis at an angle in a manner similar to ice skating

  • Snowplough, stem christie, parallel turns and telemark turns for descents.

  • Kick turn and step turn for turning on steep slopes

Lessons in the above techniques are available from cross country ski schools at many ski resorts.

Going on ski tours with experienced people is also recommended.

Some outdoor and cross country ski clubs undertake ski touring and backcountry trips of various levels of challenge with experienced leaders that can provide good opportunities to learn from others.

Day ski tours

Day ski tours are good way to first experience in ski touring and gain skills and confidence and have the following advantages:

  • Good weather and snow conditions can be chosen

  • Short duration can make it easier to cope with varying snow conditions and weather

  • Light packs and less equipment allow more freedom of movement and energy to practice skiing techniques

  • Staying close to trail heads or resorts provides proximity to refuge and assistance in the event of an emergency or bad weather

  • Skiing and snowboarding use different muscles than other activities. Day trips are a good way to improve skiing fitness.

Multi day ski tours

As skills and confidence are gained, longer trips with more difficult terrain and variable snow conditions and weather can be undertaken.

The chances of encountering inclement weather and more difficult snow conditions are higher during a multi-day tour.

Skiing with a heavy pack is difficult. There is more weight on the skis which makes turning downhill and skiing uphill more strenuous.

Setting up a base camp in a sheltered location can provide the opportunity to do several day trips without heavy gear.

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