Ski mountaineering is quickly gaining popularity in western Canada. Originating in the Europe at the beginning of the last century. Since then ski mountaineering has evolved into an international sport. This type of ski method is used to access the higher summits of any involved mountain range. Providing safety for not only for themselves but for their guests as well.
Ski mountaineering is not limited to the most experienced back country skiers. Ski mountaineering is a higher level of learning for all back country skiers to experience. Proper instruction of the right tools, conditions and timing of application help build a good/safe foundation for achieving goals, summits and unbelievable ski descents.
The distinguishing differences between back country skiing and ski mountaineering are:
The Ski mountaineering ski season is very specific. Usually early winter or late winter/spring. The reasons are due to the settlement and predictability of the snow pack. Layers of concern which can appear and persist through out the cold months of winter are either non-existent during fall time or have had time for bonding and adequate settlement during late winter or spring time. This is due to an overall warmer daily temperature during the later months (March-May).
Ski mountaineering terrain is generally bigger and steeper then regular back country ski trips. When ski mountaineering, one would often take off their skis to boot pack couloirs, snow faces and ridges. Where as, when back country skiing, one would rarely or never remove the skis to ascend the mountain or slope.
Technical mountain equipment such as a T rated mountain axe, second technical ice axe, screws, crampons and a full strength rope is used. Good practice when ski mountaineering and steep skiing is to climb proposed ski objectives first. This technique allows the guide to fully investigate the proposed ski slope for ideal steep skiing conditions. The use of the axe, crampons and rope can be used on this type of terrain safe guarding against un ideal conditions. Such conditions are blue ice, very firm snow or melt freeze spring snow that has yet to warm. The guide and client can safely transition into a pitched climbing party using screw belays, lead protection, double ice axe and front point crampon technique. Which is a safe and enjoyable experience for any skier that enjoys being up high.
Ski mountaineering involves numerous transitions through out the day. Transitions are: glacier travel mode, short rope mode, anchored belays, pitched climbing, and finally steep skiing. Becoming an experienced and time efficient ski mountaineer takes continual practice with technical systemsand rope work.
- Ski mountaineering is not limited to the most experienced back country skiers.
Ski mountaineering is a higher level of learning for all back country skiers to experience. Proper instruction of the right tools, conditions and timing of application help build a good/safe foundation for achieving goals, summits and unbelievable ski descents.