Don’t go too steep
A common mistake, both for beginners and more seasoned skiers, is to skin up on too steep a slope in the belief that you’ll reach the top faster. But unless you want a hard work out, it’s better to take it a little easier and choose a more mellow route to the top. Generally, it’s better to go so flat that you don’t even need to use the higher heel setting on your bindings.
Learn to do perfect kick turns
No matter how strong you are, you’ll still waste loads of energy (and even lose your balance and fall over) if you fail to master kick turns. There are a few different types of techniques for making kick turns, so find a few that suit you and that you can vary according to the gradient of the slope. Next time you go with the guide ask for their best tips.
Learn to take off your skins with the skis still
Even if you’ve thought this is more about looking cool rather than being practical, actually there are occasions when it’s an extremely worthwhile thing to be able to do, especially where there is so much snow that you’d just sink into it. There are a couple of different techniques, but the easiest is to loosen the rear bracket then pull/snap forward while moving your ski and leg back simultaneously. Youtube has loads of videos on this.
Don’t go too fast
A ski touring trip is often long, and not going too fast is harder than it may seem. If you need to stop and take regular breaks then you’re going too fast and in the long run it will feel more like interval training than a long-distance race. This is a total waste of energy. If you think the trip should take an hour, think about what pace you would have if you were to jog easily for an hour, or walk fast. Then try to keep the same pace all the way, so that you have plenty of energy left for the ride down – that’s the best part, after all.
Keep pressure on your heels
If you’re hiking up a steep track or if the conditions are hard or icy, it can sometimes be difficult for the skins to get a good grip. When it gets slippery many people tend to lean forward instinctively, perhaps even leaning a little on the poles, too. This is completely counterproductive – it actually worsens the grip. Instead, shift your weight back a little, into your heels. You’ll get much better grip.
Text: Johan Jonsson