It’s a known fact that you got to go up if you want to ride down. If the snow at the resort isn’t to your liking then trekking out of bounds is your best option. This can be as simple as grabbing your skate and plodding up hill, as E2 does in the picture above, its cheap, easy and a good workout. If there is more then one of ya, you can take turns putting in the boot track. The great thing is, on the next lap the boot will be solid and the climbing will be easy. The hard part though, if its deep it can take a lot of energy. You’ll most likely be soaked in sweat when you reach the top and not so ready for lap number two. Luckily there are a few tools available to make the up hill trek easier. Starting from the left MTN Approach skis, Atlas snowshoes, and Verts.
The cheapest option are Verts. These are the small plastic snowshoes on the right. They are light, easy to put on and kick ass in steep terrain. At around 110.00 shipped they are a great option for starting out. They only weigh 2 lbs and can easily fit into a pack making transitions even faster. It really just feels like your boot packing without sinking in so deep.
As you can see in the boot pack picture above, you do sink a bit but since your foot is at the front of the verts, its easy to step forward without dragging snow. As with boot packing the second lap will be a breeze and it will be fast as your path tends to go straight up. We usually drop from above then put the first boot pack in our track. This cuts down a bit on how much snow you have to walk through but is only an option if you get to start from the top.
Verts don’t perform as well on long flat sections. Your toe tends to dive since your strapped to the front of the shoe. On icy terrain they do ok but its more of a work out to get the toe to dig into the dense snow pack. If long flat sections are in the mix then traditional snow shoes are the way to go. You’ll want to make sure they have heal lifts. These are wire bails that flip up and support your heal when hiking steep terrain. You flip them down for the flats. A good set of snowshoes with heal climbers will run 200-250.00. They are a bit more weight, at around 4 lbs a pair. As with boot packing and verts, the second lap will be easy and working with a crew will make breaking trail a snap.
If you’re hiking the back country with alpine touring or telemarkers then snow shoes and verts won’t work quite as well. You can do it but snowshoeing on a skin track will usually get you some negative vibes from your touring partners. It tends to wear out the skin track and make it difficult for the skiers to climb. They main reason I don’t like it though is that skin tracks tend to wander across the hill. Side hilling on snow shoes sucks. It wears out your knees and ankles and isn’t very efficient. There is an option though, MTN Approach skis. These are foldable skis that fit into your pack. They are heavy weighing in at 8 lbs, there expensive costing around 800.00 and the hinge mechanism sometimes breaks. All that being said I really like them.
They haul ass over flat terrain. They are long enough with a wide waist that you don’t sink in but their short length makes kick turns on switchbacks a breeze. They transition really fast. They stow in your pack close to your back so it doesn’t throw off your weight when riding down hill. Best of all, no stink eye from the skin trackers. They just function really well. They are currently coming out with a much beefier hinge so the snapping hinges should be a thing of the past. You usually carry an extra hinge and surprisingly you can swap out a broken one faster then a split boarder can get their stuff back together. If your touring with skinners it’s the way to go.